There was a time not too long ago that I disliked routines. Get up at 6:45, make coffee, take a shower, walk to the train, etc. I felt shackled by these routines, to the point where I would intentionally set my alarm for a different time each morning (by 10 or 15 minutes), sometimes go to Starbucks rather than drink my coffee at home, or take a slightly different route to work. These were my very unsubtle ways of trying to break out of the routines that I felt were destroying my freedom of action. Even though I had to be at work at a certain time (and continued to need coffee in the mornings to ensure a decent mood and any semblance of productivity), I messed wih my routine just enough to lift the dreaded “another day of work – blah” feeling.
More recently, though, I have begun to find a certain comfort in these routines. Making the coffee has become one of those routines that anchors my day, that gives me a few minutes to wake up and get oriented before I have to jump into my day. We are French Press People, meaning that the process is slightly more involved than tossing some coffee in the filter basket, filling up the water, and pressing the “on” button. Because fresh ground coffee tastes so much better (in my opinion), we start from the whole beans (some of which I have actually roasted myself – I’ll post about that some other time). And because we’re using a french press, which is notoriously fussy about grind size and consistency, we use a burr grinder (as opposed to a blade grinder). And because most electric burr grinders are really expensive, we use a hand-crank model that produces fantastic consistency with a dialed-in grind size. Which means that after filling up the kettle and washing out the french press, I spend a few minutes weighing and grinding. While the water heats and the coffee steeps I might pick up the kitchen a little, check the weather, or pack my lunch. When it’s done, I have the seeds of awakeness right in my hands and, partaking with gratitude, actually start my day.
This little coffee ritual has come to serve a nice function in my morning, not only making me feel productive right from the beginning of the day (I successfully made coffee before ingesting any coffee, navigating a seven step process with only one eye open), but also giving me the space to gradually arise from the involuntary loss of consciousness in which I spent the last eight to ten hours. Rather than being a waste of time, like I used to think, coffee prep serves as a liminal space between sleeping and wakefulness, keeping what could be the shock of a morning decidedly lower-key. Far from feeling shackled, I now feel that the morning routine helps organize and center my days, and make them more productive.