The 34th episode of “Carnivore Theology”.
Book Talk and Coffee in Church
Steve’s AWOL today so Chad and Al get to nerd-out on the books they’re reading lately, answer a SpeakPipe question, and promo Al’s book.
Al’s Book List
Chad’s Book List
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I want to do something – as Monty Python used to say – “completely different”. A couple days ago I walked into one of my favourite coffee shops to buy some grinds and – after one thing lead to another – one of the managers asked me to review a new coffee making product! I can’t tell you how excited I was! I love writing, coffee, Keurig, and new gadgets, so this was perfect!
It (sort-of) fits with this blog’s mission too because our Christian worldview gives us more reason than anyone to take care of the planet God gave us. One of the ways we can do that is to think and act in environmentally sensitive ways. The Keurig K-Cup system, however, is very environmentally unfriendly. See here too. And here. And, ironically, here. So what to do? My answer has been to use a reusable coffee pod-system.
I love my coffee and I love my Keurig. It’s fun, fancy, super convenient, has a bazillion flavours, and the sounds it makes after I push the button gives me the illusion that I’m a fancy-schmancy barista. But there’s no getting around it – it’s the most wasteful and environmentally unfriendly way to make a cup of coffee. That’s why I’ve been exploring more eco-friendly options. So far I’ve tried three different reusable systems.
The KiennaCUP is definitely the worst of the bunch. It’s annoying to use, messy to clean, and still makes garbage by using a tea-bag-type system. On top of that, none of the three coffees I tried tasted very good (Columbian Supremo, Canadian Maple, & Hazelnut).
The system I’ve used for the longest time is the Keurig My K-Cup. It’s simple to use, easy to clean, and can use any type of grinds. I didn’t like it at first because the coffee was weak, but after some internet research and tweaking I was able to adapt it to make a decent brew. I’ve been happy with it for a long time.
I recently went to get some Mufferaw Jo from Equator Coffee Roasters Inc. and was asked to review a new, Canadian system called the EZ Way Pod Filter. It’s similar to Keurig’s My K-Cup but with two important differences. First, rather than having its own housing it fits into the existing K-Cup Holder, which is nice because it eliminates a step. Second, it can be pre-filled and stored, which might make bleary-eyed, pre-coffee mornings a little easier.
But, is it better than the Keurig My K-Cup? Here’s my comparative review:
- EZ’s system is a couple bucks cheaper than Keurig’s. Advantage: EZ.
EZ Way is a small, Canadian company from Trois-Rivieres, QC. Keurig is a huge, American company. Advantage: EZ (Go Canada!).
- Both are easy to use. Keurig has a twist lid while EZ uses tight silicone topper. Advantage: Tie.
- EZ doesn’t make me take apart my Keurig machine to use it, but its design means EZ’s filter basket has a 3mm smaller diameter than Keurig’s. It’s not much, but millimeters matter when you’re trying not to spill precious grinds. It also means that you fit less coffee. Advantage: Keurig.
- EZ’s filter basket has a much finer mesh than Keurig’s, therefore I didn’t have to adapt it to get a stronger flavour. However, it came out slower and the coffee was a little bit colder. Advantage: Tie.
EZ’s storage system is probably a cool idea if you buy a few of them and fill them in advance. However, since I only had one, it was quite a pain to clean (literally, since the filter was quite hot) so I could make a second cup for my wife. Advantage: Keurig (Unless you buy more than one, then Advantage: EZ.)
- Because of EZ’s smaller size and extra fine filter, it is also harder to clean than Keurig’s. I had to rinse and rinse and brush and scrub to get all the coffee out, something I never had to do with Keurig’s. Advantage: Keurig.
- I can’t comment on EZ’s longevity since I’ve only had it for a short time, but its open design and silicone topper don’t feel as sturdy as Keurig’s hard plastic system. Potential Advantage: Keurig.
- But how’s the coffee?! If I hadn’t adapted the Keurig My K-Cup, EZ would win hands down. However, with the fix, they are about the same. Advantage: EZ.K Cups will always be more convenient than a reusable system, but not by much. I’ve made the switch and I’m not going back. Whichever one you use, I hope you ditch the K-Cups and switch to a reusable, eco-friendlier system right away. It will help the environment and you’ll get to experience a lot more types of coffee that aren’t available for the K-Cup system.
So there you go. K Cups will always be more convenient than a reusable system, but not by much. I’ve made the switch and I’m not going back. Whichever one you use, I hope you ditch the K-Cups and switch to a reusable, eco-friendlier system right away. It will help the environment and you’ll get to experience a lot more types of coffee that aren’t available for the K-Cup system. I’d love to hear some feedback from you about this article. How do you make coffee? Which system do you like? Did you agree with my review? Should I do more things like this? Let me know by e-mail or in the comments section on the blog. Thanks for listening!
So far so good this week, so let’s continue our experiment and see if we can connect Coffee and Outreach.
Outreach, in its most basic form, is simply sharing the love we have experienced through Jesus Christ with others through our words and deeds. We are grace, therefore we are gracious. We have been forgiven, therefore we forgive. We are to God, so we are peacemakers. Our Father gives us good gifts and we share them. We have been given the message of the Gospel, the only way by which we are saved from the consequences of our sin, and so we share that story with others.
Touching People’s Hearts With Coffee
I believe it is possible to use all of God’s good gifts (James 1:17) to share His love with others — and that includes Coffee. Here’s a great video from The Skit Guys connecting coffee and love:
Now was it the coffee that touched this father’s heart? No, it was the love of his children. In the same way, we can use something as simple as a cup of coffee to show people that we love them, will listen to them, acknowledge their hurts, and want to be used by God to bring them peace (even if only for the time it takes to drink a coffee).
1. Take a depressed friend out for coffee. Part of the struggle of depression is that it drives people into isolation. Depressed people begin to believe that no one cares about them, and then reinforce this belief by avoiding contact with people. They wait for someone to call, and when no one does, their perception is confirmed. Be active and call them, take them outside their environment, encourage them to sit on the patio in the sun (or even the rain!) and let them know in no uncertain terms that you love them, God loves them, and both of you will continue to care for them.
2. Use your Coffee With Your Father time (see Coffee & Worship) to specifically focus on praying for people’s salvation.
3. Here’s a way to use your next coffee time to present the gospel! Here’s a great video from Billy Kangas connecting Coffee to the Gospel of Jesus:
Coffee and Fellowship… Fellowship and Coffee… they go together like coffee and cream. Cream and sugar. Coffee and cookies. Chocolate and coffee. Coffee and cake. Cake and ice cream. Ice cream and chocolate sauce. Mmmm… coffee flavoured ice cream… Ooops, sorry! Got carried away.
Some Surprising Similarities
I’m sure you agree fellowship (aka people getting to know one another, supporting one another, serving one another..) seems indelibly connected to coffee. It’s treated like the glue that binds the fellowship together. But did you know there are other similarities?
1. Both seem simple at first, but are far more complex than we realize. Check this out these suggestions: 70g/Litre, course ground trimodal particle distribution, no covering to allow the grinds to bloom so you don’t get an uneven extraction from the cake of coffee. Wow!
Similarly, one would think that sticking people in a room with readily available hot beverages would create Fellowship. Not so, but this is the approach of most of the churches I’ve been to take. Provide a space, perk some coffee, make juice, pour water, steep tea (for the hippies), add some no-nut cookies and sliced veggies (again, for the hippies), and just watch the fellowship bloom. But it’s not that simple is it?
True fellowship is not just meandering around the same floor space sharing insights about the weather and the local sports teams. True Christian fellowship requires time, risk, sacrifice, determination, leadership, emotional energy, purposeful interaction, mission and the imbuement of the Holy Spirit. People need education on how to move their conversation to a deeper level, they need encouragment to let down their guard because many of them have been hurt, they need a reason to meet together beyond sharing a location (a good cause, a decision to make, an issue to support, etc.), and they need lots of time (15 minutes on Sunday after church isn’t enough).
2. Both are terrible lukewarm. No one, not even Jesus, likes lukewarm drinks (Rev 3:16)! They are best hot, or cold. Lukewarm fellowship is even worse. No one likes a hypocrite, and most people can tell pretty quickly when someone is detached, inauthentic or uninterested, even though they walk up to you with a cheery, “How are you?” It only takes a couple of emotionless, mindless, useless conversations for a person to know that the relationship is fake and that they don’t want to waste their time. I’m sure you’ve felt this.
3. It’s not good when it’s too strong. Some people like strong coffee, but even they say it can be too strong. In the same way, when a fellowship goes from being committed and loving (Acts 2:42-47) to being a clique full of nosey busybodies (James 2:1-13, 1 Tim 5:13), they’ve taken a good, God-given thing, and made it into something bad.
Connecting Coffee to Fellowship
So here’s some ideas:
1. Pretend you’re a barista and serve everyone else first. Be the first one to the coffee pot and the last one to take a sip.
2. Make some coffee gifts. A dollar store mug with some chocolate covered espresso beans and a nice, non-preachy note is cheap and does the trick. Give them to folks you see on the periphery of your daily life (Store clerk, bank teller, newcomer to church, neighbour, mechanic, etc.).
3. Have an International Coffee Tasting night where people bring over their coffee machines and a unique blend of coffee and try them all out! I recommend “Kopi Luwak” or “Weasel Poop Coffee”. (I bought it for my brother for Christmas one year.)
What about you? Have you ever drank a drink that came from the rear end of an animal? What has been your best fellowship experience? What has been your worst?
Let’s keep the brainstorm going and see if we can connect Coffee and Discipleship.
Coffee/Discipleship is Personal
Coffee, like discipleship, is a very personal thing. People like their coffee a certain way, and if it’s not done right… well, as my dad used to say, “It’s like drinking dirty dishwater.” Walk into a Starbucks sometime and listen to how people order their drinks – some of them sound like they are crafting it right down to the molecule.
“I’ll have a Venti, sugar-free vanilla, non fat and soy, 1/2 pump almond, half pump mocha, two pumps sugar-free cinnamon dolce, with whip and caramel drizzle.”
[Here’s a list of “Secret Frappuccinos” if you want to get into the craziness]
Christian disciples can become the same way about their discipleship.
“I’ll have an Utmost for His Highest reading, 3 chapters of the Gospels, 1 Psalm, 4 proverbs, 10 minutes of prayer, 3 minutes of meditation, 1 contemporary church service, a Wednesday night traditional prayer meeting, teach Sunday School twice a month, and may I please have some Chris Tomlin CD’s drizzled on top.”
Can Coffee Help us Become Better Disciples?
I believe it can. Here are some ideas:
1. Try Different Coffees & Methods of Discipleship – Consistency is wonderful and important for building habits, complacency and being dispassionately mechanical in your walk with God is not. Knock yourself off of your rut by experimenting with kinds of coffee and coffee drinks. Expand your horizons! (Here’s 22 ways to brew coffee. Here’s 63 different coffee drinks to try.)
And at the same time, try different Discipleship methods.
- Change your time, place, book, words of your prayer, place you serve.
- Here’s a challenge: Don’t use the words “Lord, be with him” when praying for someone else. And don’t use the word “just” at all.
- Try not singing for a Sunday, and just let the words wash over you.
- Try taking notes (or not taking notes) during the sermon.
- Be the last person to stay on a Sunday morning.
- Ask a friend to meet you for a spiritual conversation.
- Research a theological question that has bugged you and don’t stop until satisfied.
2. Drink Coffee from Missionary Locations – If your church sponsors missionaries, do some research on how their country drinks coffee, buy some and drink it for a while. Learn about that country and the missionary, pray extra for them until the coffee is gone, and then move on to a different missionary.
3. Study Fair Trade – Scripture is clear that we are to take care of our environment (it was our first job) and those around us. If you have your head in the sand about where your morning cup of joe comes from, and are unaware of the implications of globalization, then it’s time to pull it out and take a look around. Here’s 2 places to start: Here. Here.
What about you? What’s your favourite way to drink coffee and practice Discipleship? Can you think of any other ways to connect Coffee and Discipleship? Have you become complacent in your faith journey?
This is the first of some week-long experiments where we take something ordinary and see if we can use it to Worship God, grow as Disciples, encourage Fellowship, and practice Outreach. And the first thing that springs to mind is the writer’s best friend — coffee.
Did you know:
- Coffee was discovered by an Ethiopian goat herder who noticed his herd acted pretty excited after eating a certain kind of berries.
- Coffee beans aren’t beans at all, but are the seeds inside a kind of cherry.
One of the main focuses of this blog is to grow a passion towards making your relationship with God a part of every moment of your life. That’s why I started “Project: Always & Everything”,“an every growing list of unique, interesting, exciting and challenging ways that we can meet God in our daily lives and practice keeping Him Always involved with Everything we do.”
So in keeping with that idea, I want to brainstorm a bit about coffee and worship.
For some, drinking coffee is an act of worship — not one focused on God, but in fact worshipping the ever-so-delectable-bean itself. Think about it. Worship is to give honour, reverence, regard, homage and sacrifice to someone or something regarded as sacred. Now run your attitude for coffee through that matrix.
- If you don’t have coffee for a few days, how do you feel?
- Do you pursue coffee as a necessary part of your day?
- How much time, effort, energy and money to you sacrifice for coffee?
- How do you celebrate coffee in your life? Do you have a sanctified chalice (special mug)? Do you have any consecrated garments to celebrate your object of worship (any clothes with coffee on them)?
- When you wake up in the morning to the smell of freshly brewed coffee, filled with longing and desire to roll that first, hot, delicious, sip across your lips and past your long waiting taste buds — is it an act of emotional worship?
- Is coffee the first thought on your mind in the morning, and your source of energy and inspiration throughout the day?
- Is your coffee an idol?
Worship With Coffee
Yes, coffee can become an idol, but can drinking it also be an act of worship? If we approach coffee remembering that God created this world full of amazing things to enjoy but not worshiped (1 Corinthians 6:12-13, 19-20), have our hearts focused on God in thanksgiving and prayer (Ephesians 5:20, 6:18), then I believe we can redeem our coffee time and make it an act of worship. How?
- Make God your first thought in the morning, and then thank Him for creating things we can enjoy, and even use to perk us up for His service – like coffee!
- Do an idol check now and again by not having coffee for a time (a week, a month) to be sure that it is not controlling you, and you are not dependant on it. (Here’s an infographic about caffeine.)
- Thank God for all the people, from harvest to processing to delivery to the store clerk, that worked hard to get that coffee into your hands. You may want to (strongly) consider drinking only fair-trade coffee.
- Have coffee with your Father. Capture the time you take drinking that first cup as a time to simply be with God. Not rushing around, not dumping it into a to-go mug, not even during your bible-study time. Just take that time to talk things over with your Father in Heaven.
What about you? Have you ever worshipped at the altar of the great bean? Can you think of ways you can connect coffee and worship?