Shooting Sacred Evangelical Cows: Coffee Drinking

coffeeIt’s time to resurrect a little series I did a little while back: Shooting Sacred Evangelical Cows.  This time, my target is something I’ll call “poseur coffee drinking.”  It’s a makeshift title, I admit, but I think you’ll see that it has merit.

From where does this latest installment of SSEC proceed, you ask?  Here’s where: from perusing any number of blogs run by folks in my peer group: youngish, theologically oriented, book-loving, culturally plugged in, ironically inclined, that sort of thing.

What you find on many websites is some kind of description like this: “I love reformed theology, U2, anything by Steven Soderbergh, and a fresh cup of joe.”  Or maybe: “My interests are theology, issues of social justice, Beastie Boys, and an Americano from (fill in neighborhood coffee shop here).”  Or perhaps: “Can’t resist a good Bonhoeffer quotation, Edwardsean philosophy, and a venti mocha with light whip.”

You get the point.  Here’s the thing about this situation: there’s nothing ironic or unique about liking coffee.  We all like coffee.  Coffee is good.  Made well, it’s really good.  It’s kind of like saying you like bread.  “Anything by Piper, Band of Horses, and Pepperidge Farm rocks my world.”  Everyone likes bread.  And everyone likes coffee.

This includes me.  I like coffee.  I like mochas with a fierce passion.  I like a cappucino with dessert.  Coffee is good.  This, however, sets me apart from approximately no one.  Coffee is one of the pleasures of this fallen world.  I and a good portion of the rest of the human race enjoy it.

So, reformed hipster/progressive/student/master-of-irony, next time you consider charting your particular coffee-related beverage of choice, next time you wear it as a distinctive identity marker, remember: everyone else likes coffee.  Work harder on the goatee pattern, find another brand of undiscovered denim, dig even deeper in the alternative music shop to lay hands on the truly avant-garde musical act, because your love for coffee–it ain’t getting you there.

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  • Mark Rogers

    hmmm… I do not like coffee. Maybe I should use that in my self-description.

  • Al Mather

    I do not drink coffee, I disclosed with a self-righteous, slightly disdainful smile. 🙂 What are you talking about??

    By the way, I enjoyed and was challenged by yesterday blog and quote.

  • Terry Lange

    I can’t stand coffee. I must not be culturally relevant!

  • Riley

    This is pretty good Owen. I laughed. Pepperidge Farm rocks my world. That was nice. Good job.

  • Josh Powell

    I wish I would have written this.

  • John

    My son recently saw a coffee maker and asked what it was. Our coffee drinking friends laughed. Count us among the countercultural.

  • B.C. McWhite

    Maybe the only thing more cliche than enjoying coffee, in our generation, is the cliche of iconoclastic attacks on cliches.

  • Nice.

    “Give us this day, our Iron Kids Bread.”

  • Hmmm.

    I take vacations specifically so that I can visit particular coffee shops.

    I write blog posts detailing the subtle — and sometimes not-so-subtle — nuances of whichever single-origin coffee is in my mug.

    I’ve given rather extensive thought to the parallels between gospel discipleship and process of roasting coffee.

    I’m hosting a coffee tasting this Saturday morning at Quills Coffee on Baxter Avenue, right next to Flanagan’s.

    I once told Raleigh Sadler that if God gets the whole bible and the Word Incarnate to communicate Himself, I can surely use all 140 characters of a Twitter tweet to communicate my delight in a particular brew.

    Hmmm. Is it okay for me to say, “I like coffee”?

  • As a card carrying coffee loving Christian I must raise a small objection. There’s “liking” coffee, and there’s liking coffee. For some people, even those who list coffee on their online profiles, coffee is that powdered stuff you add to water and stir. There are those for whom “coffee” means a drink that has been rendered unrecognisable by the addition of syrups, sauces and sweeteners.

    For others there’s an obsession that extends to roasting beans at home and owning ex-commercial machines.

    There needs to be space for the latter to declare their love/obsession/addiction/snobbery. How do you suggest these coffee savants do that?

  • Ha!

  • Espresso with pudding please; cappucino should only be drunk before 10am. You crazy Americans!

  • Conor

    ‘a cup of joe’ – isn’t that tea, not coffee?

  • Here’s another Evangelical Sacred Cow:

    Making fun of Evangelical Sacred Cows.

    Set up two mirrors facing each other, and count the reflections.



  • While I think it’s true that some people do wear their coffee preferences like a badge of honor a little too frequently and as though it meant something, I think this reveals a bigger issue. Too often we (humans, not just Christians) set out to make a mere personal preference be more significant than it is or matter more than it does.

  • Chris

    I like beer and ice cream as well. I will have to add those to my personal stats sidebar.

  • As someone who does home roast my own coffee beans, and has a 150 lb. burlap sack of green Arabica beans from El Salvador in my bedroom closet. I agree with Nathan above. I like coffee–just doesn’t say enough though.

  • Collin

    Dear Owen, you miss the point. Everyone drinks coffee, but not everyone loves coffee. And, you show a disturbing lack of sensitivity to caffeinated nuance. When writers define themselves by a particular coffee beverage, it tells others-who-know-about-such-things something about their personality. I wouldn’t expect a mocha sipper, like you, to understand. And besides, cappuccino (spelled with 2 c’s) is a breakfast drink. I can only hope that you are more informed about avant-garde music.

  • Actually, everyone DOESN’T like coffee. I don’t. So maybe I can better describe myself in terms of what I don’t like, because it seems to really set me apart when I tell people that. Like I’m unclean.

  • Gale Ebie

    I guess I was counter-culture back in 1970. I first grew my mustache and I first started drinking coffee.

    I shaved my ‘stache off for the first time in 39 years last month. But I am not about to stop with coffee. I now home roast my own coffee, much better then store bought.

    Jared File: a 150 lb sack of green in your closet???!!! That would last me two years.

    My likes are “reformed theology, social justice, D.A. Carson, and a cup of Ecuador Puyango Loja roasted at city+”

  • Kyle

    My problem is that it puts our taste for something trivial and ridiculous like coffee at the same level as something as significant and glorious as theology. How is it appropriate for someone to say “I like God and coffee?” Does he like them the same amount? Does he like one more than the other? And if so – good grief, which one?!

  • Thomas Kunkel

    Everybody likes/uses cars too but WHAT kind of car makes the difference. Classic car? Sports car? SUV? Plain vanilla sedan? Saying, “I love my aging Trans AM” is so much different than saying “I love my reliable Volvo”. I think what we might have here in this article is jealosy of those of us who have highly cultured java sensibilities.
    P.S. I don’t have a goatee. I have the whole beard!

  • What’s the point of this blog, exactly? How is “liking coffee” a sacred cow, at that? This post comes across as pointless and arrogant, especially the singling out of the alleged “reformed hipster/progressive/student/master-of-irony.”

  • Just for the record – despite my comments to the contrary I thought this was funny, and I’d like to see you take down U2 next.

  • Le Gallois

    Coffee, yes.

    A mega-chino-macciato-cappu-frappu-mocha-nut-lite with whipped cream and chocolate powder for the price of a square meal, NO NO NO !!!

    And a thousand times, NO !

  • Brian

    There are some coffee-loving unreached people groups in Eritrea waiting for the coffee-loving dudes to show up and tell them about Jesus. They drink the poor quality java though since all the good beans get exported… still, as Owen says, everyone loves coffee.

  • tlangejr

    Hey Owen, I thought of another good post. How about people who not only drink coffee but study in places like Starbucks, etc.? I still cannot figure out how anyone can get anything accomplished in those places, but people are there drinking coffee, reading, studying, sermon prep, etc…. just a thought

  • Sean Nelson

    Meh…I liked coffee before it was popular.

  • Good coffee is very hard to find and people who like lattes, etc are very hard to find in my experience as well. Most people are quite happy to suck down something that is just not coffee so I may be a coffee snob but I disagree wholeheartedly with your assumptions. Almost everyone likes bread but what kind of bread? Many people would happily inhale wonder bread every day. To me, that is not bread just as Folgers or the like simply is not coffee.

    As for studying in coffee shops, something whihc one commenter mentioned, that is where I got my best studying done in collage. The whole aura of the place encourages creativity. As an English major writing many an essay, I needed that.

    Ah, I suppose I completely live up to all your preconceived stereo types of the Christian hypster or whatever but at the end of the day, I say I win out because I get a great late to start out the morning made in my very own kitchen and I love it. I am proud to make people good lattes when they come over and people are always very thankful to have one made because they say a good cup of Joe is a very hard thing to find. I agree.

    I thank God for good coffee beans and I thank God that He has given us the freedom to enjoy such a delicious, satisfying treat that brings people together and promotes an immediate common interest.

  • as an often weary mom of four, i can honestly say i praise God for coffee as well as reformed blogs.

  • I think most of those commenting here are missing Owen’s main point:

    “Coffee is good. This, however, sets me apart from approximately no one. Coffee is one of the pleasures of this fallen world. I and a good portion of the rest of the human race enjoy it.”

    I could be totally off-base, but I gather by the tone that Owen is taking a rather tongue-in-cheek view of his own — and our — preferences. Even more so, he’s stating, perhaps a bit too vaguely, judging by the commentary, that in the end our likes and dislikes don’t matter; Jesus Christ crucified does.

  • Okay. I confess. My bio includes the statement:

    “Avid reader of theology and coffee aficionado.”

  • JM

    Toto hit the nail.

    Good article Owen.

    Ps… I love coffee ice cream.

  • I do not drink coffee and I do not use Steve Jobs’ computers or phones 🙂

  • Hey I clicked on your page by mistake on ask while hunting for something completely different but I am truly glad that I did, You have just captured yourself another subscriber. 🙂

  • Wes

    So, how is this post supposed to give any wisdom to the issue about taking a supposed label (of coffee drinking) to distinguish yourself as unique when, in the end, it is a critique which would be given by all the other coffee living hipsters out there. But I guess this just shows blogs are about pointing out the obvious rather then actually speaking into anyone’s lives about issues that matter.

  • Thomas Slawson

    Yes, most people like coffee, but most people do not really KNOW coffee. It’s like meeting someone who call’s himself a “wine drinker” because he drinks the latest screw-capped $2 alcohol-laced grape juice from Wal-Mart, or a “beer expert” because he buys a six-pack of Miller Lite every weekend.

    Most of what people drink as “coffee” in this country is horrible. If you doubt me, just stop off at any gas station almost anywhere and you’ll understand.