Blog | Rose & Cactus

Love in a cup

While we were searching for a charming coffee love story for valentine’s day, we thought we would be seeking two people that had stumbled upon love at first sight, while starting their first barista course together. Or discover a story of two individuals that had separately ventured across continents to experience different cultures and languages, and as they struck hands while plucking the same cherry from a coffee tree in North America… the rest is history. However, I guess, as the saying goes, you always find a story when you least expect it…

Instead of a romantic story of two people finding love, we found something all the more delightful, regarding the love that is established from the small things in life. The everyday things, like sunrises, great friends, a decent book, and a beautiful cup of hot coffee.

While John was growing up in Uganda, he studied hard, dreaming of a remarkable future for himself. John sat with his closest friend in art class and was mesmerized by the way colors and shapes intermingled together to produce talent so unique and beautiful.

John excelled at science, especially physics, English, and math, and was heading towards a reputable career in engineering.

Unfortunately, some unforeseen circumstances emanated. John could no longer carry on his studies, and so started to immediately look for a job in his city of Kampala. He had some friends working in the hotel and tourism industry and thought that it might be a good place to start.

He could imagine himself as a waiter, meeting various people, serving with a smile and enthusiasm. The manager that interviewed him suggested that he start in the kitchen in order for John to learn all about the dishes and how they’re made so that he would become a knowledgeable waiter. John agreed and started right away.

His first shift was a morning shift, he remembers being talked through the ways of the kitchen by a senior chef, explaining to him where things are kept and the daily running and operations of the hotel kitchen.

The door swung open suddenly, and when John looked over, he saw his school friend walking towards him. “Oli otya?” – how are you in Luganda. “What are you doing here?” John asked his friend Abby. “I am a barista here; I make art with coffee” Abby answered back. John had no idea what that quite meant, uninformed of what is his friend did in the hotel. “Come and find me on your break, and I’ll show you,” Abby told John.

On his break, John went to find his friend. In the back of the restaurant, was a bar. There Abby stood, behind a huge machine, thick steam noisily spouting from the system, with an intensely magical smell of coffee waving through the air. When Abby turned, a white cup in one hand and a silver jug in the other, he cautiously started moving the jug. Up and down, side to side. Then he placed the cup on the counter for John to see.

Sat on the top of the coffee was the most beautiful love heart. Swirls of creamy milk and toffee-colored coffee presented to perfection with such feeling, love, and emotion, delivered in one cup.  

John instantly went to see his new manager, Mr. Anderson, to explain he no longer wanted to work in the kitchen, but instead envisioned himself as a barista. Mr. Anderson could see the enthusiasm and eagerness to learn barista skills, genuinely, in John’s eyes. He informed John that he would let him work as a barista as long as John went to a special school to learn the proper skills.

John worked solidly. He watched his friend and colleagues creating beautiful coffee, he practiced hard and studied even harder. The energy that John had for the coffee and for the people he served was such a joy to watch. After three months of very hard work, John’s friend moved on from the hotel, and John was promoted to head barista.

His passion and desire grew more and more, and John found himself hearing within the coffee community about ‘specialty coffee’. A fellow barista that had traveled the world, had come back and set up a school to teach people just like John, all about the world of specialty coffee. He grew intrigued to hear that the barista could play a huge part in the story chain of coffee and went back to school to study once again. He gained more knowledge about the beans and their origins, along with correct industry terminology.

John tells us “You need to love being a barista, that way people will really taste superior coffee and see it in a different way. The barista is given so much respect by people when he shows that he fully understands and cares about the coffee bean and where it is from. It isn’t just about making art, it’s giving people an experience and knowledge that the farmer’s best efforts have really paid off.”

“The creativity in art looks so hard to gather sometimes, but with only a simple change of the artist’s mind, the whole picture ahead of you changes. There is never a mistake in art and only coincidence that created something even better.”

  • John    –

John can be found working in a gorgeous coffee shop @CaffeineandCulture down in D3, Dubai. He is always prepared and excited to share his passion and his coffee with any customer and disclose to them the story behind every single farmer and his bean. John found love for the world of coffee in just one cup. We are hoping that someday soon, something will inspire you and you will fall in love with coffee too.  

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