When travelling in Laos, I took a trip to a coffee plantation. It was connected to a coffee shop in the town of Luang Prabang. The coffee shop was busy, popular with both locals and tourists from across the world for serving delicious tasting drinks and home-made delicacies, but also for selling fresh coffee beans from their plantation.
When we first sit in a coffee shop, it is rare to make a connection with the network of activity that leads to the coffee that we are drinking. Usually, we tend to focus on the ultimate outcome: the taste! And even then we can be distracted by other things in our life, preventing us from being fully present.
When I visited the Laos coffee shop, looking around, I could see many people just like myself involved in their daily activities while enjoying their coffee. It requires time, space, and reflection to bring gratitude into our experience. I tried to encourage this to grow by taking a visit to this coffee shop’s plantation the following day, around a 35 km drive from the shop.
I took a step back from the busyness and got to see where the coffee had come from; its growth from a small seed and the extensive work that goes into getting the good quality beans into one’s cup. As this was a small plantation, some of the sorting work was still carried out by hand, a painstaking process of quality control where each bean was hand-checked for size and colour by a group of workers sitting in the same positions all day.
It was a privilege and a real insight to see this process. When returning to the coffee shop and taking a coffee the next day, I was able to fully immerse myself in the invisible gratitude meditation of cause and effect. The coffee tasted even better by reflecting on the actions that were taken for me to be able to enjoy this delicious drink.
Through using our imagination and mindful awareness, we can try to remember the extensive network that we benefit from and thereby enrich all the moments in our life.