Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bad Coffee

I have a congregant who actually likes his coffee from a Styrofoam cup. I wished that I did because that’s how I’ve drunk an awful lot of coffee—and I do mean the word, awful.

I’m not sure why it is, but almost all church coffee is bad. It’s always the cheapest store brand brewed in an old urn, where it has sat too long before it’s served in the aforementioned Styrofoam cup.

Then on the other side, I’ve known of very large churches that have their own gourmet coffee shops in the foyer, which seems to go a bit far the other direction. While drinking coffee shouldn’t be a Spartan effort, perhaps it doesn’t need that much emphasis either.

But I can hear the discussions throughout the brotherhood: “We need a coffee ministry like the First Affluent Church has. How are we going to reach the lost if we don’t have a Starbucks?”

Bad quality or not, people need their coffee. In my current church, if it’s not waiting for them, the old timers get pretty cranky. “Where’s the coffee? Why isn’t it ready?” they’ll ask, as if the waitress hasn’t moved fast enough for them in a restaurant.

Many retorts come to my mind:

“Why so cranky over this swill?”

“The café is just around the corner.”

“We need a volunteer for this; since you’re so interested….”

I decided I’d make the coffee myself if it was that important to them. People say, “Pastor, you shouldn’t have to do that.”

And they’re right. I don’t have to. I do it simply as an act of service, a favor that no one pays me for. I also do it because I drink coffee and I can’t stand how others make it.

I’m going to start buying the coffee, too. What’s more, I’m going to buy the more expensive stuff.

It’s all part of the service, folks.


  1. The first coffee house inside a church I ever saw was called Holy Grounds. ;-)

  2. Now if you were in the UK, you'd have to drink it out of green cups and saucers - and it'd be instant!

    Actually, things have improved: our church does French-press coffee and cake (cake!) before the service: very good, very appreciated. I'm surprised no-one has come out of the woodwork and volunteered in your church, if the coffee was that bad...

    Love the illustrations, btw!

    - Chris.

  3. I would never underestimate the power of a good cup of Starbucks! ;) ~K

  4. Sanityman,occasionally we spring or donuts around here. French press is okay but instant (I don't know how to spell it; just imagine me shivering).

    K: ;)back at you.

  5. I have the first of those posters in my kitchen :-)

    I do find it kind of weird that the biggest mega-church in Australia also owns the biggest coffee franchise in Australia. There's something in that that makes me wary, and I've never been able to figure out why. I'm pretty wary of mega-churches anyway, so maybe it's part of that. That's not to say I don't like a good latte, but the coffee culture/ministry thing in churches is currently a bit OTT.

    I've been known to take decent coffee and a large plunger for everyone to use on camps where people would otherwise be too distracted by not having access to anything other than instant - which is possibly a comment on the attitude of some of the people I hang out with - coming as I do from an area where the coffee culture despises Starbucks for being too commercial and 'chain-store', not to mention insipid.

  6. Hi Bird, good to hear from you. Coffee franchise, huh? Could it be a way of raising funds for mission work?


  7. It's good to be back :-) I can find reference to aid and development on the church's main website, but no details of actual mission projects. I'm not saying there aren't, though. I am aware that my wariness doesn't necessarily add up to anything! The coffee franchise has certainly been found guilty of engaging in false and misleading conduct with respect to a charity that they sponsored, however. The church and the coffee franchise have since cut ties with that group and now direct funds towards well-known aid and development organisations.

  8. Well, maybe fundraising for a ministry may not be so bad. We sell cinamin rolls, steak sandwiches, have pancake and sausage dinners and chili suppers to raise funds for our work. Nobody ever thought to give th preacher an honorarium. Heck they even make me wash dishes :).

  9. of all the posts...this one rings so true. at our church when i teach classes i try to have coffee. i'm typically about 15 minutes late everywhere i go. the curse of being a gen-x hippie slacker i guess. but anyway. the coffee will still be brewing and people are standing there staring at it...poised and waiting on the pot to fill up just enough to get their cup full...and looking at me like i'm some kind of jerk because i didn't brew the fair trade, shade grown, organic coffee i bought with my own money in my own coffee pot early enough for them to have it waiting on them. (of course, reading this, i realize that i have some very serious gospel issues stemming from my coffee righteousness...but then, i'm a sinner and i need jesus.)

    anyway. that's one reason why i'm hoping to plant a church in boone, nc. maybe we could meet in the "grateful grounds"...grateful dead themed coffee shop. maybe ask one of the employees to fix the coffee so i don't have to. then people could be mad at someone who gets paid to make the coffee...

  10. Andrew, I've stood around the coffee maker in just the same way--like a man in the desert waiting or just enough water to bubble up from the spring to give him a mouthful to quench his thirst.