Sunday, July 6, 2008

5 Weekly Gallons of the Good Stuff

A cool little combination cafe-bike store opened up in our neighborhood recently (* The owner is a local guy who also coaches the Terra Linda High mountain bike team. We went over there initially a few months ago just to check it out and were blown away by how cool the spot is. It's a funny little corner between the 7-11 and the laundromat that used to house a video rental store (VHS and Beta, way before DVDs), then a mail-order spice business. Bikes and Beans is our favorite use of the space by far.

The day we first checked the place out I asked if I could have the coffee grounds. So now we pick up a 5-gallon bucket a week of used espresso and drip. It's become a new ritual of our Sunday afternoons, and has had the very beneficial effect of driving us to yard-work for a couple of hours.

Here's how it works. I get home from yoga, Joe from his ride; we grab the dog, the clean bucket and our coffee cups and stroll to the corner. Justin brews us up some delicious coffee (from De La Paz Coffee in San Francisco, www., yum!) and we swap out the full bucket for the empty one, then make our way home. I sit on the stoop, drink coffee and get the used coffee ready for prime-time: with both hands, crushing the espresso pods, dumping out and shredding the paper filters. Meanwhile Joe's mowing the lawn or weeding or trimming. We flip the existing pile and layer in the coffee and new stuff, and generally marvel at the worms at the top of the pile, the heat at the center, and how much things have broken down since the last weekend. The apricots, for example, that we put in two weeks ago, are 100% gone. Love that!

There's so much about this activity that I love. There's the connection to the cafe, the elimination of the coffee from the waste stream and returning it to earth. There's the walking there with our coffee cups, and balancing everything + Jasper on our way back, and the meditative process of prepping the coffee for the pile. There's the amazing fragrance and heat of the pile as we turn it, the stages of decomposition we witness and the surprises like the baby praying mantis we pulled out of there today or the little alligator lizard hunting worms that we saw. It's such a simple little thing and so deeply, deeply satisfying.

And in a few months, we'll have gorgeous very coffee-looking soil to add back to our garden beds and feed the next season's crop of lettuce and flowers. When I asked for the coffee grounds, I only imagined it would be a great addition to our compost. What I ended up getting is a regular serving of peaceful simple pleasure every Sunday, a coffee high that I coast on for days.

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