On the merits of group coffee consumption

Mountain Connection, January 16th, 2023

During Winter Break, some divine entity – which either inspired the generosity of a terrestrial benefactor or landed on earth itself, shrouded in the mystic clouds that otherwise grace the peaks of Olympus, and delivered the literal contents of this article – bequeathed to the Upper School faculty an amazing Breville all-purpose, do-it-your-self, coffee-house-esque extravaganza. The single device, now housed permanently in the front office atop the refrigerator, grinds beans, heats water to exact, select temperatures, perfectly tamps grounds, yields one and two-shot espressos, steams milk, and a host of other variations and combinations that I’ve not yet learned as indicated by its several-inches-thick instruction manual, all to the delight of the caffeine connoisseur. Samantha attributes its manifestation to an anonymous donor, and surely that person is as benevolent as they are generous since the results have been grandly productive. As Samantha states, the total magnificence of the machine may be measured in two equally profound ways: “1) It has tested the growth mindset of our faculty as they have developed new modes and the fine art of making coffee-related drinks, and 2) it has built collegiality around the shared interest of getting caffeinated and teaching one another the various tricks of the trade we’ve acquired.” Indeed, she is quite right. On any given day (at least betwixt the hours of 8:00 and 11:00, and often extending well past noon), the front office is alive with energy as faculty from all corners of the building gather to brew. We wait patiently in line, some with eyes half closed during their first visit of the day, others bubbling over with stories regaling the several successful experiments they’ve already consumed, while the strum of various bells and whistles percolate through the atmosphere. Personally, I’ve been elated to test the simple but effective Americano button, which (assuming that I’ve already completed the few steps required to properly load the portafilter) neatly dispenses two shots espresso and six ounces of water heated to exactly 200 degrees Fahrenheit such that, combined with the ounce of whole milk I bring from the kitchen to coat the bottom of my mug, results in a creamy, sumptuous concoction. I haven’t done the research to confirm, though I estimate that one such Americano equals the caffeine of perhaps six cups of drip coffee and, per the substantial upgrade of deliciousness involved, I, among my colleagues, am oft tempted to overdue. Fortunately, recent published studies have concluded what teachers have long suspected: coffee does not, in fact, cause dehydration and that, quite to the contrary, it counts as daily water intake among the already innumerable and still growing tally of its various benefits as nature’s most perfect food. Indeed, the general collection of energetic faculty who surround our heavenly gift each day speaks volumes to Samantha’s distillation of its greatness. Our conversations are lively and inventive, and the mood is jovial, as we savor our various renderings and share our wealth of accumulated knowledge. Occasionally the phone will ring, and Lainey will ask politely for a repeat of information or offer a humble apology until the grinder subsides, at which point we’ll bite our tongues for a moment to offer her a short respite from the din. Then it’s back to controlled chaos, laughter, anecdotes, the hissing of the steamer, questions and demonstrations of particular methods and refinements, all amid the aroma of what must be Elysium. The device is really a time machine, therefore, one that splendidly prolongs the present as it heightens our senses to the point of acute awareness; we feel the very rhythms of the earth, revel in the ineffable quality of comradery, and construct profound philosophies all within the span of a few seconds. The gift produces the quickened collective heartbeat that permeates the entire building, resonating in upbeat tones and energized discussions as we impart knowledge and élan alike to our students. To our wonderful benefactor, whether celestial or purely divine, we tip our cup in heartfelt thanks.