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Of Coffee and Capitalism

Young female customer taking coffee from barista in coffee shopIf the gods drink wine in the evening, surely they awaken to a freshly brewed cup of coffee.

Recently I walked into a coffee shop near my home and talked to the owner for maybe half an hour about his products. He explained to me the critical importance of roasting and grinding the coffee correctly to brew the perfect cup. He lamented that the local water has become too soft for perfect coffee (a problem he plans to address). He explained to me in loving detail why the freshly roasted coffee beans he sells are superior to the coffee typically found in the grocery store. He has been so successful that he plans expand to a shop twice the size and move his roaster, currently located elsewhere, into the new shop.

It is a privilege to witness someone so passionate about his work.

From the shop I purchased a package of coffee beans produced by Sweet Bloom, a local roaster. According to Sweet Bloom’s web site,

Your beautiful cup of coffee begins with an elegant and fragrant white bloom. This flower matures into a small two-seeded berry (cherry), which when fully ripe, has the potential to be transformed into one of the most complex and flavorful beverages on earth.

What makes it possible for individuals so passionate about something so specialized as importing, roasting, and selling coffee to be able to devote their lives to delivering the perfect cup? Such specialization is made possible by the enormous productive output of a relatively free economy and the complex division of labor such an economy supports.

I happily paid two to three times as much for my Sweet Bloom coffee as I might have paid for lesser (but still good) coffee from the grocery store shelf. Such pleasures, although relatively costly, are accessible even to those of modest means (by today’s standards).

Our modern world has its problems, to be sure. But it also offers an abundance of values, great and small, starting with the world-class coffee I can purchase at the local coffee shop for a few minutes’ worth of work.

What a pleasure to wake up and smell the fruits of capitalism.



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