Thank you, world, for my coffee

Thank you, world, for my coffee. It takes a lot of work by a lot of people for me to have it.

The coffee itself I bought as whole beans at an independent coffee shop in the next town over. It's a delightful place to meet a friend for coffee, although that hasn't been possible during the pandemic. I am thankful that they are still there, serving takeout coffee and selling coffee to be brewed at home.

Thank you, team at Karma, for supplying coffee beans.

As I understand it, the beans used in their espresso blend come from Africa. Thank you, coffee farmers in Africa, and thank you to coffee farmers all over the world. Thank you also to the people who transport the coffee to market, who move them on trucks and ships and railroads or whatever means to get them to America. Thank you to the people who make, operate, and service all the means of transportation involved.

Thank you to the people who designed, built, and service the equipment that Karma uses to roast the coffee. And to those whose work provides the electricity for the machines. Thank you to those who designed, make, and deliver the ziplock bags the coffee comes in.

Thank you, everyone, for making it possible for me to get great coffee beans at Karma.

I grind the coffee beans by hand using a hand grinder made of steel and ceramic. I thank the makers of steel and ceramics, those who refine the design of burr grinders for an excellent and precise grind, and the people who manufactured it. I have one little quibble with the design: the removable handle has a tendency to come off the grinder while you are turning it, which is a bit inconvenient. I bought it from Amazon, so thank you Internet and Amazon and all of the people who make all of those system work, even though I'm not sure that Amazon's effect on business has been all good, especially for the book business. On the other hand without the Internet and Amazon I probably never would have found the grinder at all. Even though it sounds like a lot of work to grind coffee beans by hand in the morning, it is a pleasant, almost meditative activity, without the early-morning noise of an electric grinder.

I use the espresso beans to make a faux latte. Instead of a real espresso machine, I brew it with an Aeropress, I heat milk in the microwave, and I froth it by hand with a whisk. Thank you to those who made my Aeropress, the scientists and engineers who discovered microwaves and invented the microwave ovens, those who manufactured the microwave oven and transported it so I could have it, and those who did the same for my nice whisk and the glass measuring cup that contains the milk.

Water is essential for coffee. Thank you to the town workers who operate the wells and the treatment system and the pipes that deliver water to my house, to all the workers who dug the wells and built the treatment system and laid the pipes. Thank you to the those who made and service all the parts in our house that make and deliver hot water.

I use milk to make the latte. I thank the generations of people who refined method of making lattes and roasting espresso. I thank the cows produce the milk, and the dairy farmers who take care of the cows, and the people who make sure that safe-to-drink milk makes its way from the farms to the store. I thank my wife for the grocery shopping and bringing home the milk from the store.

Of course, it's impossible to enumerate all of those who did some part of what it takes for me to have the coffee, and their part it in may be a tiny fraction of what they do. Even those with a direct step in the process are supported by many other people, and their work in turn is supported by yet more. It's easy to think of the people doing these many things as interchangeable, but all of the work was done by individual people.

Our worldwide systems for exchange, even with all their troubles and inequities, are remarkable creations. We can and we should work together to make those systems better for everyone. And I am thankful for the work of thousands—perhaps millions—for what may seem everyday and trivial.

Thank you, world, for my coffee.

Footnote: I wrote the first draft of this in a notebook, sipping my morning latte, in March of 2016. In 2018, author A. J. Jacobs came out with a book, Thanks a Thousand: A Gratitude Journey, in which he documents his attempt to thank every person involved in the making of the cup of coffee he has every morning. It's probably a great book. When I wrote this, I had no idea what he was up to.