Yesterday I had the cool opportunity to do some coffee roasting with a friend of mine. It’s a really cool process to see coffee go from the green bean to the delicious light to dark brown color. Hearing the bean crack like popcorn is a really cool sound and is a great reminder of how through heat and fire are brought beautiful things.
I’ve had some great coffee in my day, but I’ve also had some really bad coffee and while there are a lot of different factors that go into making a cup of coffee enjoyable I’m always amazed at how little, subtle changes go into making such a big difference.
A few months ago I had a cup of coffee that tasted like burnt marshmallows. And while I love smores, I was pretty sure this wasn’t the flavor that the roaster was going for. Come to find out that the coffee was indeed over roasted and almost burnt. I figured that while the coffee was roasting he had walked away or started working on something else and let it roast for far too long on accident. I asked this roaster how long he let the beans roast over the ideal time and he responded with “15 seconds.”
15 seconds! Can you imagine only having 15 seconds to get something right? There are times where I just stare off into nothingness for more than 15 seconds!
While my friend and I were roasting yesterday we had some time to kill. After all, part of roasting coffee is just waiting for the roaster to be done. So, we figured, why not pull some espresso shots? So it began. The first shot turned out ok. The water went too quick through the grounds so it was a little watery. So we tried adjusting the grind. We made it a little finer so it would hold the water better. Apparently, we went too fine because it took about 20 seconds before the water even started to drip through. On our third try we made the grind a little coarser to cut the difference, but it still didn’t turn out right. After a couple more tries and checking to see if there was enough water in the espresso machine (there was) and some really shaky hands we stopped pulling shots and got back to roasting.
I did notice something during our experiments though. Even though we were using the same coffee, the same water and the same methods, each shot had a different, distinct flavor. The very little changes we made to the grind size of each shot pulled out different flavors and characteristics of the coffee.
The same goes with the 15 second over roasted coffee I drank. I don’t know about you, but I would call letting something cook for 15 seconds too long is a very little thing.
The same goes for life, doesn’t it? It’s the little things that make a difference.
Sometimes we think that we have to make these huge adjustments to our lives or these really big life changes in order for us to achieve what we want or be where we want to be. The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of the time if we will make better little decisions the overall trajectory of our lives will be altered in the direction in which we want to go.
Focusing on the little, day to day decisions in life is also good training for when we have the opportunity to make a big change and big decisions. Think about it. If you continually make small decisions that go against the goals you have or go against the direction you want to be headed, what kind of decision do you think you’ll make when you’re presented with a much larger opportunity. You’re going to choose in the same manner in which you’ve already been choosing.
I’m reminded of a great quote from the movie For Love of the Game: “A lot of little bottles make a big bottle.”
Your seemingly small and insignificant decisions carry with them more weight than you probably know. Give them more attention. Because when it comes time to make the big decisions you’ll already know what to do because you’ve been working towards the direction you want go each and every day.