The Coffee Pot: Can It Save Our Humanity?

July 09, 2011

The coffee pot symbolizes many different things to those who value it. And each pot brings out different responses from its owner than a pot of a different design. Moka pots might symbolize and come to mean a totally different thing than an electric perk, though both make a pot of coffee, delivering basically the same beverage. Historian Mark Wallace has published an essay this week that paints the generic coffee pot as a sort of symbol for our humanity, at least in terms of how our senses impact on our humanness. In a world of digital information that is constantly upgrading and updating, the coffee pot speaks to our senses - and not just one or two of them, but all of them - in a non-technological way. As Wallace points out, all five senses are involved in the making of a pot of coffee, regardless of the brew method chosen. We hear the coffee perking or gurgling, we definitely smell the wonderful aromas, we see the brown liquid filling the pot or the cup and judge its strength by its color, and we use touch to sense the heat and prevent burns to our mouth. “Finally our taste buds blossom as we savor the freshly made coffee.” Beyond our sensual involvement there is the social interaction surrounding coffee. We sit around a pot to chat with friends, eat breakfast with family, finish dinner with family, meet with business associates, plan events for our community groups and so on. The coffee maker takes us away from our solitude and digital-ordered world in numerous ways, framing our humanity. Wallace writes that this is no small matter and it is imperative to our humanness not to ignore the call of the coffee pot. From the day’s beginning to its ending, the coffee pot and its aromatic, soothing and satisfying content is by our side. Wallace seemingly assumes that if we make an appointment with our coffee pots, the social part will follow. But there are many who have a close relationship with their coffee and the pot that brews it who will have to make a great effort to share the pot with others, as neighbors and co-workers may not be readily available to those who work in solitary offices and other environments. It’s something to think about as you break from your routine for a few minutes to savor your daily cups. Good things were meant to be shared, and saving your humanity from digital overkill is no small thing either. Here’s an idea- try some gourmet Kenyan coffee – below - and use it as an excuse to invite your neighbor over for a cup.



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