Does Kona coffee hold the key to the meaning of life? I certainly hope so. For the past few days, starting on Maui and continuing here at home in Oregon, I’ve been working my way through an eight ounce bag of 100% Kona coffee, which Mark Twain praised as “having a richer flavor than any other.”
I wholeheartedly agree. This is the best coffee I’ve ever had, the only downside to Kona coffee being it’s $20 + price per pound. But, you get what you pay for. And part of what I’m paying for here is an aid to finding the meaning of life, so twenty bucks a pound is pretty damn cheap if Kona coffee leads me to the edge of enlightenment. Which is what I’m counting on, my thirty-plus years of daily meditation having taught me that the wise meditator follows a simple rule: do whatever works.
In general, people who meditate can be divided into herbalists and caffeineists. There is nothing more likely to get a good old-fashioned bared-teeth, in-your-face argument going between serious meditators than the simple question: “What do you drink before you meditate?” Herb tea drinkers think it’s good to mellow out. For me, “mellow out” is a synonym for “fall asleep.” I figure it’s better to be awake and wired in meditation than asleep and mellow. So I’m a dyed-in-the-wool caffeineist, which means the stronger the coffee the better.
I've never forgotten a decades-old conversation I had with Simon Menasche, who, a Google search reveals, is still a Portland massage therapist. One Sunday in the 1970s, when I lived in Portland, I went to pick up Simon to give him a ride to the weekly meeting of our meditation group. I could smell super-strong coffee as soon as I entered his home.
When I said something about drinking coffee before meditating Simon launched into a wonderful riff about the sacredness of coffee, likening it to the energy that fuels a psychic helicopter: as the caffeine-stimulated mantra spins around in one’s consciousness, a via negativa vacuum is created that lifts the meditator up into elevated spiritual regions.
Simon had the history of coffee down, correctly telling me that the Sufis were one of the first to drink coffee, using it to stay awake during their all-night vigils of God-seeking. Coffee is called the wine of Islam. Hey, if it works for the Sufis, it should work for me.
Especially Kona coffee. I find that Kona coffee gives the lift without the jitteriness. It’s a perfect blend of herbal-mellow and caffeinated-awake. I’m pretty sure that I’ve got enough of the bag left to take me right to the doorstep of Allah’s coffeehouse (of course, that could just be the ever-optimistic coffee speaking). Then the aroma should be enough to lift me through the lintel. I’m expecting to find Rumi sipping some strong brew with his Sufi buddies and telling some hilarious stories. Hope to meet you there soon—unless you’re a herb tea drinking meditator, in which case we coffee-drinkers will wait for you.