The curse of coffee

About five years ago I decided that I would stop drinking soft drink as part of my efforts to reduce sugar in my diet. I didn’t have heaps of soft drinks, maybe one drink every two or three days, or if we were having a meal out. This significantly reduced my drink options to water and coffee or tea.

While at home or the office, this isn’t too much of a problem, but as I have an aversion to buying bottled water (I believe that tap water is just as good [even in Adelaide] and reduces plastic waste) when I am out and about has caused an issue.

Especially as the weather heats up my options for cool liquid refreshment have often been quite limited, until I discovered an iced latte. To me it sounded like the perfect solution, but even then I have found it fraught with disappointment.

Theoretically it is supposed to be ice, milk and a shot of coffee. In reality however, I have discovered that lots of people have different views on what an iced latte is. Some put in sugar syrup if you don’t ask for it not to be included. Others add ice cream and/or cream. Some even blend it all in a frappe style.

This makes ordering for me a long, drawn out process. “Can I please have an iced latte? No syrup, no ice cream, no cream, no sugar.” I have discovered that if I am not specific about what I don’t want I invariably end up with a less than ideal end product.

It is almost enough to give up on my cold drink option when dining out, and then I went to Darwin for holidays. From the very first iced latte order I felt I was able to breathe a sigh of relief. In the Northern Territory capital they know how to make an iced latte, and a really, really good one at that.

Each and every one I had during those 10 days away was awesome. No long order explanation required. I almost feel like I have found ‘my people.’ In the past, when I have ordered my sugar free cool drink I have been greeted with surprised expressions. In Darwin, no such thing. I was the normal one and anyone who asks for variations in their latte is the ‘freak’.

It was surprising the sense of relief I felt to discover that my simple coffee order was okay to be a ‘thing’. It was an uncomplicated way to help me feel like I belonged. This has led me to contemplate the ways in which I might help or hinder other’s sense that they are okay and/or accepted.

It might be in very simple, subtle ways that I may make people feel they’re expectations are unreasonable or strange. Just because it’s not something I would prefer, or the majority request doesn’t mean the individual is expecting something completely ridiculous. I wonder how many amazing ideas have started from someone asking for something out of the ordinary.

In the book of Romans chapter 14 verse 13 it tells us, “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.” Feeling judged for my choices is what is at the heart of my experience, I believe and I want to be sure it is not at the heart of anyone who interacts with me.

I wonder, though, how much of the ‘judgement’ is actually there, or is it frustration that I can’t always get exactly what I want without long drawn out explanations? Should I believe others will automatically know my expectations when I don’t express them? While I may be feeling judged by baristas unable to understand my iced latte desires, am I not myself judging them for not providing my unexpressed requirements?

I am pleased to say that I am beginning to find places in Adelaide that understand what I need in an iced latte, as well as knowing other places where I need to be more specific in my requests. Taking the time to reflect on this situation has given me the opportunity to examine the judgement tendencies I may hold, even as I order my cold coffee.

I wonder what other areas this may play out in my life? How about in yours? Something to consider over your next coffee perhaps?

Be blessed.

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