Whilst on holiday in Gran Canaria we went to visit a coffee plantation in the beautiful lush valley of Agaete. These wonderful trees filled with green and red berries that would be harvested & transformed into the beverage that a large part of the world loves and is addicted to.
To see where it all begins is most inspiring, these shiny leaved 2 meter high beings who have the capacity to grow to 7 meters high ( but which isn't practical for fruit picking so generally are kept small) are quite particular and can not just be grown anywhere. In this valley of the Agaete mountains they flourish but in other parts of the island can not be grown at all. Their companions here are the banana tree, guava, fig, persimmon, papaya and avocado trees, they help create the shade they need although they seem to have adapted to a lot of direct sun here too.
These coffee trees are of the Arabica variety, they produce flowers that only appear for 24 hours but luckily are self fertilizing so don't rely on bees to be there for this brief floral array. There is only one harvest a year as they only fruit one time a year unlike some other kinds of coffee that has 2 harvests per year. This makes Arabica quite expensive compared to other coffee varieties.
The fruit itself is not what turns into the bean, its the green seeds inside the fruit that will become the beloved coffee bean we cherish. Each fruit contains two seeds that are first dried and then roasted, as they are roasted a thin papery skin falls from them and is blown away, then the green bean begins to go brown and as it does it doubles in size as its flavors and caffeine properties are released. The green beans themselves if eaten just as they are have no real aroma, taste or caffeine hit, its the roasting that sets these elements free. Note; the Arabica variety is quite mild compared to the kick of other coffee varieties.
We had the chance as part of the tour to roast some beans in a clay pot, afterwards we sat down to a fresh brew made from already ground fresh roasted beans in miniature sized cups.
Ritual & Fulfillment
Our tour guide spoke about how during lock down she began to roast her own coffee beans and grind them at home in a traditional manual grinder, she said how being so involved in the process helped her to really be present and appreciate her cup of coffee so much more than just opening a packet, it has now become a daily ritual for her that feels special.
It seems that she wasn’t the only one either, she went on to say that since lock down coffee has had a renewed interest, with more people wanting to grind their own coffee and cafes popping up that promote freshly roasted and ground coffee experiences in ritual drinking style. She explained that our hands rather than being there just for consuming things want to also be a part of the bigger process, we may not consciously realise it but when we take an active role in something rather than just consuming we tend to feel more empowered and fulfilled.
How true this is, I can relate to the fulfilment I felt at creating my own off grid home where I had to organise the water, the electricity, the heating, the rubbish removal, etc. Nothing was taken for granted and I was hands on with all of it. Coming back to the UK and living in a house where I only need to pay the bills or should I say give my husband some money to pay the bills and not concern myself with any other part of the process, sounds and is a lot easier but initially I felt a big loss from not being part of its creation and upkeep. Strange but true.
When we slow down and get hands on in our lives we feel empowered and life even if very ordinary or seemingly mundane can become a truly sacred and meaningful experience. By slowing down we give ourselves the opportunity to become more present in the moment and appreciate the intricacies of being alive. Or another way to put it is taking time to smell the roses, or should I say ...coffee!
Creating your coffee ritual
What you need:
Arabic coffee beans (preferably organic & fairtrade)
Special coffee cup and saucer
Quiet moment to yourself.