“Which grinder do you use for your decaf?” I called out to my daughter.
“The small one.”
I grumbled inwardly—at home I used a nice burr grinder, and I worried that the blade grinder wouldn’t produce the same taste (I’m not a coffee snob, really). My burr grinder odyssey had started with the best of intentions—I wanted to save money and create my own coffee-shop-worthy lattes at home. So, I did what I do before making big decisions—I researched on the Internet how one can craft good lattes at home.
According to my research, a burr grinder produced a finer, more even grind—which allowed the water to get pressed through at just the right rate to produce smooth, beautiful crema (the nirvana of coffee aficionados). As a result, I found a good burr grinder on closeout at Costco along with an inexpensive espresso machine.
I love vacation, and I love my daughter, but I worried that my latte would lack the taste I’d worked os hard to achieve. As I poured beans into my daughter’s grinder, I couldn’t remember how long one has to hold down the lid to get a fine grind. I hoped counting to 100 would produce a good enough latte.
As the coffee came out the spouts with perfect crema, I marveled at the efficiency of my daughter’s cheap blade grinder. After all, I’d been having trouble with my espresso machine at home producing watered-down coffee with little to no crema.
Maybe I had failed to use a fine enough grind on my machine at home.
When I returned from vacation, I eagerly set my burr grinder to a finer setting, only to have even more watery results. Maybe the higher elevation affected the brew, I thought. The next time, I moved the dial ever further—but the results disappointed me again. Perhaps I wasn’t compacting the coffee into the filter enough, so I tried pressing with all my might. On the third try, I moved the dial all the way to fine grind—but my grinder didn’t seem capable of making the almost powdery grind that my daughter’s blade grinder produced.
Frustrated, I finally cleaned the inner mechanism of my grinder and shook it a little (as if that would solve the problem). That’s when I realized that for who knows how long (maybe ever since I purchased the grinder), I had been slowly moving the dial in the wrong direction.
Instead of setting my grinder to a fine grind, I had been inching it towards the coarse grind. No wonder my espresso machine had produced an increasingly watery brew!
After my careful research, I knew that a burr grinder should produce a better-tasting brew—but while I felt vaguely satisfied (maybe even self-satisfied that I saved money whilst other chumps forked out five bucks for a venti), I always felt vaguely cheated because my decaf skinny lattes didn’t taste like the ones in the coffee shop.
After properly adjusting the grind to ‘fine’, I have savored my money-saving, crema-rich lattes—but my experience left me uneasy. In what other areas of my life have I fallen short because I failed to set the dial at the proper setting?
Christianity, for one thing. For the longest time I thought I was a Christian because I had bought into a religion. Baptized at seven, I did all of those things I thought I should do to be a ‘good Christian girl.’
For some reason, I thought that part of my Christian persona included judging others by my new standards. I bought into a culture of comparison that eventually left me dissatisfied with my weak and judgmental religion—mostly because I realized that my Judgy McJudgerton mentality had become my own harshest critic.I bought into a culture of comparison that left me dissatisfied with my weak and judgemental religion. Click To Tweet
Maybe that’s what Jesus talks about when he says, “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging” (Matthew 7:1-2 MSG).
If I feed myself a steady stream of internal (or external) criticism of others, pretty soon I will direct that stream at myself—I become coarse and produce a bitter brew in my life.
I have discovered the value of checking the settings in my life—whether they be the dial on my coffee grinder or the reasons behind why I do the things I do. When I allow God to constrain me and break down my natural inclinations, I turn into something finer that will produce a pleasing crema.
Christianity is more than just a category on a checklist. It’s a living, vibrant relationship that works within me. When I lose my settings, no matter how hard I try to squish all those ‘right things’ into my life, I end up producing a weak witness that doesn’t deserve the name Christian.
How’s your brew been lately?
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