Written by Nick Hartley Kansas City Fellow – Class of 2016-2017
Most mornings I wake up in the Fellow’s House and walk to the kitchen to start making coffee. I grab my small kitchen scale and scoop out exactly 30 grams of coffee beans. Then I put the beans in my coffee grinder on the semi-course setting. Next I measure my water kettle, it weighs exactly 536 grams, no more no less. Then I go to my purified water and measure out exactly 600 grams of water. My kettle heats the water to 205 degrees, every time. I place a pre-folded filter in my Chem-X and pour 100 grams of 205 degree water over the filter. This removes the taste of the filter and preheats the Chem-X. I pour out that water. Then I add the coffee grounds and pour in just enough that it makes all of the coffee grounds damp. I wait 15 seconds, exactly. Then I start pouring in concentric circles starting in the middle working my way to the edge of the coffee. I pour for twenty seconds then I wait 40 seconds and repeat. I do this 5 times, and if I do it right I will have poured 100 grams each time.
Why do all of that? It’s a painfully tedious process (especially before I have even had any coffee). I’ll tell you: Control. I control every step of the process completely. I can make the exact same cup of coffee day after day consistently. Coffee is one of the most diverse drinks with a myriad of factors that affects taste. To be able to make the same cup of coffee on any given day is to me a form of mastery over volatility. At the end of that process I make an excellent coffee that you just can’t get from a coffee machine. In a world full of changing circumstances I can control my coffee.
Upon entering the Kansas City Fellows program I ended up losing a lot of my own personal control. I moved to a new city and as the rest of the fellows started on their first days of work I felt a deep sense of helplessness. I did not have a job to start like my peers (mine had fallen through at the last minute). For the first time in my life since I was twelve or so I didn’t have a “job.” I usually knew exactly what I was doing. I went from hopeful and exciting interview to interview being rejected. In hindsight it was a blessing in disguise. I had to rely in God and learn to trust that His plan was ultimately better than any story I could orchestrate.
At church we just started a sermon series on Daniel. This is a story where Daniel is taken from his homeland and forced to serve the brutal Babylonians. For me it has been especially convicting and inspiring. Daniel, through terrible circumstances, never lost faith in the Lord and the Lord was faithful to Daniel eventually raising him to a high statesmen. Many times when I struggle with control my head knows God is faithful but my heart doesn’t believe. Through the story of Daniel the Lord is working to make my head and my heart agree.
Ultimately, living without control was good for me. I realized I was treating myself as my own god and I make a horrible god. Thanks to the support of the Fellows program, I was given the encouragement to fully trust in God’s plan. Eventually, a job lined up where I could use the full breadth of my education where I am exposed to so much as a young professional. The beauty in that is that as doors closed for me they led me to this opportunity. As my good friend RJ would say, “Typical God!”
God has more control and can better control the circumstances of my life than I ever could, he is more exact and attentive. He writes a better story but he doesn’t guarantee an easy one. The Lord probably even makes a better cup of coffee.