Tuesday, February 27, 2007


All of the employees and owners of BFC&T have been working on what is known as Latte Art. Jason has some pictures of his work on his site. This strange blend of physics, chemistry, and dexterity produces some beautiful cups of espresso. The ability to make rosettes and hearts is considered by many to be the mark of a true barista. The thing that every wannabe wants to hear is, "This is so beautiful I don't think I can drink it!"


In our culture of rush-rush-rush, a cup of coffee must be fast and frill-less. Folks who are used to a home brewing experience of instaneousness find it hard to wait in a line at a coffeeshop while a barista is making a cup. Many times I've found myself in that same position, looking at my watch, wondering what is taking them so darn long. Latte art, while not actually taking that much longer than the production of a non-art latte, serves as a justification for the wait. If your barista/entry-leverer does not provide the visual stimulation (or doesn't try, at the least--nobody said art was easy) for your wait, there is a legitimacy to the grumble. However, if your barista tries--sees coffee and milk and their combination as a gift--then hopefully the rush-rush-rush will for a second slow down for a wonderfully fully-orbed experience of coffee. And maybe, just maybe, the gift can be passed on.

We're trying it here and we hope you like it.

Friday, February 23, 2007

BFCAT vs. The World

In many ways I feel quite fortunate to be working at a place like BFCAT (yes, I refuse to include the "i" as I feel it is unnecessary and causes too much confusion). First and foremost: it's a well known fact that only the coolest people can work in coffee shops (see: Russ, Jason and myself. I rest my case.) Second, I get free drinks. I am personally well-acquainted with several people who would shed innocent blood for this kind of perk. Third, well, Russ summed it up pretty nicely with his previous post about Mr. DeFerio's article.

But fourth and finally, I love the big picture behind it all.

Beaver Falls is not known for making good first impressions. A number of Geneva College students leave with negative feelings towards this town and maybe those negative feelings are warranted. Afterall, Beaver Falls does not offer much in terms of a night life, or a cultural district, or a music scene, or... well... you get the idea. The simple fact remains that Beaver Falls is downright depressing. Are you going to tell me I'm wrong?

Like many Americans I am good at figuring out the problem, but what do you do next?

Sadly, the answer seems to be, more often than not, "Not much." We assess the problem, then promptly shake our heads as if to say, "What can you do?" and proceed with our lives that probably exist well outside the realm of Beaver County. It's an arduous task to find people willing to tackle the problems of a depressed city when they have bills of their own, mortgages to pay, work to be done, lawns to be mowed... And besides, what can one man do?

This is where places like BFCAT come in. On the surface of BFCAT is a place where students come to study, mothers come to meet, good coffee is served and "baristas" work on their latte "art". But if you ask Russ or Bethany you'll find there's more going on here. You see, BFCAT is ideally just the beginning: the beginning of many shops that add character to a community, that focus on service as an act of worship, that want to promote relationships, that want to instill a bit of pride in a town that desperately needs it. Hopefully, BFCAT is an inspiration that, with the help of projects like City House and places like Pine Valley Bible Camp, will foster the type of love and dedication that give people a respect for the place where they live. People in Beaver Falls need to know they live in a unique place. They need to know their community is worth effort and hard work. They need to know that if they're willing then they'll find others who are willing too. Otherwise they are left to wallow in self-pity while things cease to change.

Want to talk about it more? Come find us at the coffee shop.

It's a lofty goal, but one worth striving towards. Could it be possible that a cup of coffee leads to a prosperous community? Only time will tell.

Coffee as a Gift

I'm reflecting on an article by Chris DeFerio about what it means for him to be a barista. At one point, he says:
Coffee beans are practically vibrating with potential. Throughout its history, centuries of species migration and cultivation, hundreds of steps and stages in the processing of the green bean, the roasting of the bean to develop its potential further--all of it leads to differences from bean to bean. Then the barista recieves this little package and is responsible fro creating an accurate representation of all that has gone into that coffee....I feel priveleged to be a professional barista because I am the last link between grower and consumer, and it is my job to expose the bean's potential to the world.
As a potential barista (my quality level is not quite there yet, but getting better everyday), I like knowing the same thing.

It involves a certain understanding that the barista has received a gift. Many corporate/entry level "barista" treat the bean like most Americans treat everything else: disposable. But to think of the work, love, and time that has been expended to get the bean to the barista is staggering. How can we not approach it with a level of humility and gentleness?

Even in a capitalist system, commodities do not need to be viewed as bought (and abusable) property, but rather as gifts. All things that are created are given to us by the Father God, so regardless if we have paid for them or not, thanks must be shown in our dealings with everything. Imagine the difference between a cup of coffee prepared by someone who views all beans as expendable foodstuffs or one who is passionately grateful for the product and the opportunity to make that product shine especially for you.

Drink for thought.

Already but Not Yet

Since we are waiting for the website to become fully functional, I thought I'd start doing some coffee blogging here. I've invited both Jason and Brett to join, we'll see what happens. Thanks for viewing and try the Americano, it's great.