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Sacred Bean

Tonight, our church was host to an evening Darren Howie and some of his team from Sacred Bean Coffee in Derby. Darren had attended one of our virtual men’s breakfasts last year but it was even better to meet him in person and smell (and sample) the coffee he was talking about.

Sacred Bean is a non-profit social enterprise that is particularly linked with ethical trading, for its coffee, and support of “people overcoming life-controlling issues” (eg. addiction, post-prison rehabilitation, etc) by training and employing them. I enjoy my coffee but I’m not a true aficionado and most of the time I use a relatively sloppy methodology. Yes, I grind my own beans and don’t scald the coffee with boiling water but I don’t (normally) measure coffee to water ratios, water temperature and brewing time.

The particular thing I learned tonight about coffee was the difference between under-extracted (sour) and over-extracted (bitter) brews; in the practical exercise, we spent a long time setting up our brew (cafetière on my table) but didn’t leave it quite long enough. At first it was a bit sour and weak but, trying again a couple of minutes later, it had transformed into an excellent drink.

Darren doesn’t just talk about coffee. He also shared something of his journey from addiction to hard drugs, prison, meeting Jesus and becoming an Anglican priest (and how he has ended up in his present ministry). He also commented on the pictures we can see in the process of making a good cup of coffee. There’s the aspect of ritual as something humans are drawn to – familiar from both drug addiction and the drama of Holy Communion. There is also the story of the coffee bean (or, more accurately, seed), which is affected by how and where it is cultivated but then also refined by the roaster and transformed into something wonderful.

I haven’t visited their café but next time I’m in Derby (or have half an excuse to be there) I think I’ll pay them a visit.

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