Be the Rebel Bean

Have you ever taken a moment to ponder the things in life that seem to defy logic? Like how airplanes get off the ground. Or why Jell-O changes from watery to rubbery in the fridge but doesn’t go watery again when taken out. Why the express lane is always the slowest. Or why sales people are never around when you need them but always asking if you need help when you don’t. And then there’s the one that I personally have given a lot of consideration: Why do millions of people every week tune in to watch ‘The Bachelor’? Ok, so maybe these aren’t important examples. But we all know something or someone that questions what we think we know about science or humanity or nature. For instance, you may know a couple, like I do, who seems so completely incompatible but carves out a lasting relationship that from the outside can’t be explained. Or a flower that blooms out of season. And we’ve all heard a story of someone who walked away from what should have been a deadly crash without a single scratch. Why? Is it just persistence? Is it a decision? Are they freaks? Is it part of something bigger? Lately, I’ve been considering this every time I roast coffee. If you’ve been following along you might know that I’m a coffee roaster-in-training. During my very first lesson on my very first batch of beans, Mary Ann, the Head Roaster at Be’ato Coffee Company told me that in every batch she’s ever roasted with her current Toper-brand Roaster, there is one single bean that inexplicably doesn’t roast. And in that batch and every batch since, I have helped her find what we have termed “the Rebel Bean.” It simply defies logic. That bean is among the thousands in each batch that is exposed to heat in excess of 200 degrees celsius. Every other bean in that batch has lost a good deal of its moisture, lost a percentage of its natural caffeine, and its sugars have caramelized to darken its colour. But not the Rebel Bean. It seemingly flips the bird at chemistry and DOES NOT ROAST. At first I thought that maybe a green bean had just fallen into the cooling tray. But closer inspection shows that the rebel bean is not green, it’s slightly golden proving that it has been exposed to heat. In fact, find it soon enough, and it’s still hot. Mary Ann has come to believe that finding the rebel bean is a silent communication between her and the roasting equipment that tells her the batch is perfect. It’s a good omen. Hers is as good an explanation as any, I suppose. I have a more romantic notion about the rebel bean. I see it as a visual reminder to cherish our uniqueness and to accept that ours is a big, beautiful, crazy world where not everything can or should be explained. The rebel bean is different from every other coffee bean and for that we cherish it. In fact, I pluck the bean from the batch and carry it in my pocket as a reminder to be who I’m meant to be. To stay true to myself. To find my own path. Even when life gets hot and it’s tempting to blend in with the others. Be the Rebel Bean. P.S. If you are a science geek (Hi Carla. and actually have a scientifically sound reason why my Rebel Bean doesn’t roast, please keep it to yourself. I like my version better. :P