On a sunshiny Sunday afternoon, the Lanes Coffee Festival captivated the hearts of two coffee-culture loving baristas. From the moment we turned our eyes to the hidden alleys of Fortitude Valley, we were filled with the contagious life and joy shared by this community of coffee connoisseurs. Live music and the scent of freshly brewed coffee stimulated our senses, with the atmosphere bringing a well-balanced mixture of expertise, hospitality, and an apparent love for people and the profession. A sense of refreshment and renewed inspiration quickly followed. After all, it's not everyday that you stumble across a community of businesses that can find the beauty of balance through expertise, maintaining their vision, quality customer service, and care for their employees.
As we approached each coffee stand, a friendly invitation to share a free cuppa (or four) instantly followed. Although my personal perception of something given freely is generally accompanied by an expectation of receiving a mediocre product, this was not the case. Each stand openly shared the best they had to offer, as well as a thorough explanation of the origin of each roast. And before being permitted to leave a stand, we were almost always given a coupon inviting us to enjoy another free cuppa at their cafe, the generosity consistent and unending throughout each pop-up.
To add to the overall experience, the baristas consistently struck up a conversation with each of their customers. After hundreds of people passing through these stands for free coffee for hours on end, the passion these people had for their work never wavered, they continued to equally value each customer, making it evident they were in the business for more than the coffee - the relationship developed with their customers was of much greater importance to them.
In my opinion, this coffee festival was a great reflection of today’s coffee culture. Yes, we tend to value the overall aesthetic of the experience and quality of coffee, but ultimately we are drawn to connection. We want to leave these cafes or cafe events feeling inspired, encouraged - like we are capable of making a difference. When stewarded well, it’s these small interactions that have the power to accomplish just that.
In the end, connection and community is what the human heart craves most in this life - coffee culture can either be to the detriment or the benefit of that desire. Which of these are we going to choose? The Lanes Coffee Festival was the setting for passionate baristas, talented coffee roasters, businesses, and people coming together to choose community, and to choose connection. I believe they chose the best things life had to offer that Sunday afternoon, if only in the form of serving free coffee for a few hours. This is the reason that these two baristas from the beginning of this story fell in love with the festival itself; not because of what was happening around us, but the implication of why. Craftsmen and consumers coming together for one magical moment to model the why of coffee culture - simply put, to enjoy this life, with connections surrounding us and a cup in hand.
Jaycie Roth -TMPC Barista and Intern
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