My journey with coffee and tea has been inextricably linked with my journey with Islam.
Just ten years ago my idea of ‘good coffee’ involved stale, hollow and bland mainstream American drip that I either drank black, convincing myself that it tasted good, or covered up with sugar, milk and other flavour enhancers to make it palatable.
My situation with coffee was unfortunately a metaphor for my station in life as well. While able to cover up its emptiness with entertainment, drinking and other common pursuits, when all the covers went away I was left unable to find much good or meaning.
Moving to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2010, discovering specialty coffee coincided with me discovering Islam. Seeking out specialty coffee roasters across the region I exposed myself to people with a love and affection for coffee I’d yet to encounter.
They served me Ethiopian beans blossoming with floral and fruity complexities, Kenyan beans bursting with refreshing berry and citrus tartness, and Central and South America beans dancing between notes of chocolate, nuts and spice.
The less I endeavoured to cover up coffee with unnecessary additions, and the more I surrounded myself with people who had passion for its natural beauty, the more I appreciated the wonderful complexities it contained when grown, sourced and roasted with a love and respect for its existence.
Simultaneously, as I further pursued religion and spirituality with Muslims who had a deep love and passion for Islam and community, I shedded all the meaningless layers of self I had cloaked myself in to make life bearable. In doing so, I discovered the beauty of a life lived with an appreciation of its numerous and diverse complexities combined with its simplest truths.
In pursuing both Islam and coffee I stumbled upon a wonderous intersection of religion and culture that now permeates my identity and caffeinates my existence. An Ethiopian brother and his family introduced me to the origins of coffee cultivation in African Muslim communities centuries ago. A Yemeni brother leading the resurgence of the Arabian coffee trade routes taught me the history of coffee trade in the Muslim world.
Most importantly however, through discovering coffee and tea in Muslim spaces I also learned the importance of service and community. Usama Canon, a Bay Area teacher whom I was blessed to learn a great deal from, and his beautiful family did not just pass onto me ijaza in the art of making Moroccan mint tea, but the importance of serving it to guests once prepared.
In Canberra there is a beautiful community in which my wife and I are invited into homes, often with dozens of other guests, and Turkish tea will be prepared in bulk by the host and served until our glasses have been emptied several times over.
Serving our creator by serving each other and appreciating His creation—this beautiful intersection of coffee, tea and Islam fills our history and spans cultural differences and drives me to travel and experience it in all its variations. I look forward to sharing the adventure with you.
Follow Brice’s journey with coffee and life at www.caffeinatedconvert.com