Leavers, Stayers and more Panama
Although it’s silly to break the entire human population down to “two types,” it’s feasible to place people into two categories according to their location: Leavers and Stayers, those who leave their hometowns and those who stay, respectively. Transplants usually have interesting experiences, seeing “more of the world” than those they leave behind, but the drawback is that the Holiday experience is a lonely one, without the large family gatherings that are simultaneously fleeting and endless.
Luckily, Leavers have a compulsion to form makeshift families wherever they land, filling the potentially lonely Holidays with the company of others while filling their bellies with the bounty of communal feasting. Being a Leaver myself, I had the good fortune, thanks to Ben W. (barista at the B&B Coffeehouse in Olympia), of meeting a group in Seattle this Thanksgiving whose purpose is to connect Leavers and fill the Holiday void. They ranged from older folks in their 70s to younger folks fresh out of college, from pastors to financiers to baristas to the unemployed, all full of good cheer. I chummed it up with Shaun, a barista for Zoka in Seattle, who stuck by my side like a magnet once he found a fellow coffee nerd, especially when he saw that, along with my press pot, I brought a bag of Panama Esmeralda. We traded stories and technical tips over cup after cup of the tropical fruit and black tea-like goodness, simultaneously rolling our eyes when someone would ask for sugar and cream.
We did manage to get nearly everyone who wanted to try it to taste the coffee black before continuing with the additions. Most of the folks there “got it,” commenting on the strong fruity aroma and the lightbody. Tom, a retiree in his mid-70s, wouldn’t even bring the cup to his nose before locating the condiments, though he said it was the “most special” cup he’s ever had.
“Interesting,” some said.
“This is the best thing I’ve ever tasted!” exclaimed another.
“What did you do to make it taste this way?” was my favorite comment.
We brewed a press pot before the feast began and three more during dessert. Between the peanut butter pie and apple crisp, I quickly lost count of how many slices and cups I had. There wasn’t quite enough coffee for another pot by the end of the night, so I gave the remaining beans to Shaun, who planned on treating himself and some coworkers to a taste the following day.