Birth of a Coffee Roaster

“The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you understand why.” – Mark Twain Have you ever heard that quote?

In the past few years, I have heard it countless times. And every time I did, I felt nauseous. I mean, really, that’s a LOT of pressure. Life purpose is a biggie -- especially among those of us in the 40+ crowd. Sure, when I was a teenager I thought I knew what my life’s purpose was. Obviously it was to party hard with my friends every weekend and make the most of every hedonistic moment. Then in my 20’s life became about working long hours at my ‘career’ and making as much money as possible. My 30’s were all about my kids. I was too busy with diapers and play dates to have a shower, let alone pursue a life’s purpose.

But now I’m 42. The friends have all grown up and embraced their own dull realities. Work became less fulfilling and money became less important. My kids are now at an age where they are asserting their own independence and need me less and less every day. So, now what? What happens next? Why was I born? I’ve been wandering around in a fog that settled right after my fortieth birthday guests had gone home.

I was successful in the communications career that I left for motherhood, but the idea of going back to world where the spin I put on a message did nothing but pad the bottom line for big business leaves me numb. I was bored. I was aimless. I was the perfect candidate to work at my friend Heather’s new coffee shop.

I’m sure when she asked me to come work a few days a week it was a pity outreach. Anyone could see that I needed a reason to leave the house every day. A reason to shower. But I was hesitant. “Try it,” she said. “If you don’t like it, you can quit. Life is too short to work at something you don‘t enjoy.” Amen, sister. And there would be free coffee. I do like coffee. So, I started. And I liked it – the job and the coffee.

Then the coffee roaster who worked in the building invited me to train to be her back-up roaster. And my life changed. That first night in the roasting room was the first time in years I’d felt entirely turned on and tuned in. Roasting coffee is a completely sensory experience. You need to listen, smell, understand and experience the transformation of the bean and coax the best of the flavours from each variety. (Even writing that sentence seems cheesy but please indulge me.) I went home that night and couldn’t sleep. I created my first blog post in my head and later published it here. I wondered if this was it. Was this the reason I was born? Surely not. I’d been expecting something much nobler. I have friends who truly contribute to society: scientists, and E.R. docs, and police detectives. Those people are making a difference. Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Surely, he didn’t mean make it more caffeinated, right? But wait a minute. Scientists…E.R. docs…police detectives…where would they be without coffee? There is a reason that 62% of Canadians drink coffee every single day. It’s practically a life support system. And I truly believe that coffee is one of life’s great connectors. After all, “let’s go for coffee” could change the world, right?

The more I thought about it, coffee roasting seemed to be the thing I’d been preparing to do my whole life. It’s the perfect fit. The roasting process itself allows me the creativity I crave while still allowing my entrepreneurial spirit to thrive. All my years in P.R., marketing, and communications would help me support a coffee roasting business and through this blog I could even indulge my passion for writing. By choosing to roast only organic, fairly-traded coffee and selling it from my ‘buy locally’ pulpit would allow me to run a business in alignment with my own principles. Plus, I love coffee. And then, because the universe is strange and wonderful, the Roaster I was training with announced that she’d like to move on to a different passion in her life and wondered if I would be interested in buying her roasting equipment. I am happy to announce that by the end of the month I will be roasting and selling my own organic coffee under the name ‘Rebel Bean Roasters’. I am excited. I am nervous. But finally, I am certain.