It’s been a while since I’ve had a God Shot. If I’m being honest, it’s probably been 6 months or more. And I’m not proud to admit that. In the last two years my career in coffee has taken on a new shape, and thus, I hold myself to a lot higher standards. So it’s embarrassing to admit that I’ve been slacking.
The thing about the God Shot is its definition is forever fleeting. Every time you find your new God Shot, the next one becomes even more difficult to find. You have to dig even deeper and try even harder to obtain it. It’s a constant strive to “one-up” yourself, to make your next espresso that much better than your last. These rare God Shots figuratively open up the heavens so you can clearly hear the angels singing.
Everyday you dial in, fine tune your grind, and you make some damn good espresso. Then there’s that day that your senses are laser focused, for no particular reason, but you test that spro and it’s just… music. It’s the definition of umami. As Chef Massimo Bottura would put it,
“It’s the perfect balance of sweet, savory, acidic and bitterness. You don’t feel anything, but there’s everything there. You taste it, and you’re just like, ‘…Wow… Can I have some more?’”
It doesn’t hit any spot on your tongue harder than the others. It goes down effortlessly.
You can make a thousand good, even great espressos, but there’s just that moment in the short window of the God Shot that reignites your passion. Like THIS is why I’m here. And then it’s gone. The two ounces are finished, the moment is over, and you’re on to finding your next God Shot. The thing about finding your God Shot is you have to continually push yourself one step further. It’s about waking up every single day with the attitude of your espresso never being “good enough.” It’s about never brushing off your duties and letting the words, “It’ll do” come out of your mouth.
I think the part that hooks us as baristas, the part that locks into your bones, is your first “God” experience. That first sip where everything becomes clear, and you can’t believe you ever felt or thought differently about coffee. Things just snap into place and you realize, “this is where I’m supposed to be.” Once you have this experience, it drops you to your knees, your soul feeling the heaviest and the brightest it has ever felt, and you willingly “submit” your life to the industry.
Maybe that’s romanticizing it a little, so you’ll have to excuse me. I mean, I DID just have my most recent and long overdo God Shot, so I’m feeling a little emotional right now.
There’s something to say about these moments in the culinary industry. There’s something to say about the moment you find your life’s calling. Espresso gets a bad rep about being too strong and too bitter. A great espresso can diminish its own stigma, can wipe out the fear, and convert any coffee drinker into an espresso drinker. For those of us who have had the experience of our God Shots, it becomes critical for us to share that experience. We know how that moment changed our lives, changed our perspectives, and it becomes imperative that we expose as many people as we can to that. But alas, we’re humans.
Sometimes life gets in the way, and sometimes my mission feels more like mission impossible. I mean, how many “caramel macchiatos” which aren’t actually macchiatos and aren’t even on the menu can I make and still feel like I’m making a difference? It got to me. I let it get to me. And my mission came to a halt. My espresso became “good enough.” I was on the verge of giving up; I had lost faith in my dream. I lost faith in myself. What did it even matter anymore?
Today I woke up to the rain and I fought the wind as I drove to work. I walked into the place with the *worst* music playing, hands freezing as I carried milk jugs to the shop, and I got the shop set up. And then I looked outside the window, and out of the blackness of the rain clouds there was this beautiful gradient of this soul tugging deep orange to a deep pink – like there was a wild fire in the distance who’s light was trying to fight its way through the smoke. But it was just a sunrise.
I dialed in my machine, and my first set was “good enough.” A week ago, my first set would’ve felt just fine. Today was different though. I set up again, and I pulled another, and another, and then it happened. I found my God Shot again.
That first sip snapped me back into reality and out of my slump so quickly. I was so taken back by how seamless this shot was. I had to take another sip just to make sure I tasted it right; and then I knew I had found it again. It kind of broke my heart a little, when I realized how long it had been since I had had one of these. I realized how long it had been since I tried. I didn’t feel like I had given up over night. It was definitely a slow process and I think I woke up one day feeling worthless, so I stopped pushing. I stopped pushing myself to find my next God Shot. I stopped pushing myself to be innovative. I stopped pushing myself to grow, learn, and study. I stopped trying and I just started existing, filling empty space.
It’s amazing what one shot of espresso can do. It’s incredible how much it woke me up, caffeine aside. I had been looking for a way to reignite my passion. In a literal and not so literal sense I had been looking for God again, and today I found what I had been looking for in my new God Shot. And I mean that with no disrespect to the man upstairs, I use it more as a tribute. God has so many ways to present Himself in our lives, and I truly believe that he presents Himself in the ways we can feel Him the most. Some people are called to ministry to teach. Some people are called to the armed forces to protect. I was called to the coffee industry to serve.
This was written one year ago, but I neglected to post it. I found it a couple days ago, and it was a great reminder of why we’re here.