It is nearly impossible to go about your day without coming into contact with coffee. Either you need it to exist or someone you know does. Coffee culture has become a staple in society, and yet many people take coffee for granted. Andy Gilman is vice-president of roasting operations at Bee Coffee Roasters, a locally owned coffee shop in the heart of downtown Indianapolis. He has always stressed the importance of every step in the coffee process.
“From seed to cup, the idea of coffee is really a bracketed global system. There are hands that plant the seed, the hands that aid production, the hands that brew it, and the hands that bring the cup to your lips.” Unfortunately, too many people get caught up in the last step in the process and forget everything that enables them to experience coffee in the first place. Gilman’s early experiences in coffee were just like the rest of us.
“There is this basic concept of coffee, it’s what people grow up with. They see people in the movies or on television, but for me, I totally fell into it by accident,” Gilman says, bringing a cup of Tanzanian Peaberry to his mouth, the shop’s most recent roast. He is sitting at the bar talking animatedly and laughing with regulars and his employees alike. He enjoys being a people person and reaches out to those that visit his shop to learn their personal stories.
“People gather around this product not just for the taste, but for the historical institution it represents. That’s what coffee culture really is,” Gilman says. Marlowe, a barista that works at Bee Coffee Roasters, loves everything about where she works. “Bee Coffee provides a space where I can foster intimate relationships with customers and coworkers alike,” she emphasizes as she pours hot water into her brewing method of choice, the Chemex.
“It’s impossible to focus on maybe one or two variables in a cup of coffee, because there are an impossible amount of things that make a cup of coffee great,” she says. Gilman nods his head in agreement with her. “The final product is a sensory, artistic experience that combines art, science and collaboration from around the world,” he adds.
Tim and Jim, a pair of regulars that have frequented the shop for over a decade now thinks it’s ironic that they can see Starbucks through the large windows. Jim is sitting on one of the coffee colored couches in the lounge area, cradling a book that boasts “500 Trivia Facts You’ve Never Known!”
“I’ve been coming here for ten years,” Jim says, whistling loudly. “I bring my own sleeve everytime because my focus has always been on conservation.” He enjoys the personal touch each barista has and continues to come for the great coffee and the “plush couches”.
“The aesthetics of this place-, you know because of the comfortable seating and the music, really welcome me. I feel at home in this place,” Jim sighs and looks around.
Gilman finishes his cup of coffee. He looks dreamily into the empty cup and says, “Coffee is a global effort. I like to imagine that the farmers who grow these beans are thinking of the people who will partake of them. It’s like a long-distance relationship that way.”