Why We Build a Wall, or, The Connections We Make that Make the World So Small

Two men stand taking a selfie in a construction zone with a wall being built in the background and sign for Williamsburg Coffee Certified TrainingThe Coffee world. The final frontier. These are the voyages that surprise and delight us.

Today started like any other. Driving until 4:30 am to fix a problem that wasn’t a problem due to someone’s lack of understanding or problem solving skills. It’s not that persons fault. We are only equipped with the ability to handle so much in a day. When our load crosses that threshold we wind up in a wavy area. Like looking at an image through heat waves, things become hard to understand. At this point, some things will take priority while others get dismissed. So, no blame.

Having to make this drive put me on the path to stop by a good friend and collaborator, Todd Arnette from Academy of Coffee Excellence aka Williamsburg Coffee and Tea. He and I had some catching up to do, while he stood 8 feet in the air, on a ladder. Todd started an amazingly large project a couple-few months ago.  He is building the teaching lab of my dreams. When I first saw this, I was still caught in Eggland and so admired his ingenuity from a distance. I mean what kind of person just decides they are going to design and build something this large from scratch, when they are not a builder by profession?


The Todd-type of person. Todd-of-all-Trades.

It turned out that I ended up working on this project with Todd only a couple weeks later, after desperation, depression, and self-respect caused me to leave my corporate job. Luck and/or serendipity aligned us in a way that Todd needed some help and I needed some to. So, I became the kind of person that just builds a wall.

That was a bit of a rewind. So. Current day.  I’m standing there, below Todd and he asks if I’m still planning on going to Turkey. “Yes” I reply.  “When, and for how long”? I divulge the information and he is on his phone, in the air, working on connecting me with someone half a world away. Someone who is in coffee, who Todd knows from coffee. Who I know am friends on Facebook through coffee. Who has introduced me to more people and is trying to find me a place to stay and would like me to go by his roastery and talk coffee. All through coffee.

It reminds me of my first planned coffee origin trip.  That trip was to Puerto Rico.  I say “planned” because a couple years before this trip I had been to Puerto Rico and accidentally ended up on an awesome coffee farm. (This was almost immediately before I started working in coffee again, coincidentally.) On this first planned trip, I had just become a Q-Grader, so I decided to see if that could work for me.  It did.  I used the list of Puerto Rican Q-Graders to contact those for whom I could find information. It ended up being a full tour including a farm and processing facility visit, a historic watermill visit, and an tour of cafes in the city (One of which was run by a farm owner. Had I more time I would have visited that farm a well).

So, this is why I love this industry.  The world is huge and it is so small and it’s made smaller through the connections that we find and nurture.


7 thoughts on “Why We Build a Wall, or, The Connections We Make that Make the World So Small

  1. I love this. The idea of something most people consider a daily habit (or life’s blood, or basic b!tchery) is a powerful connector. I hope people look for more things like this.


    1. Thank you for reading, Rebecca! The Specialty Coffee Community is really an amazing place to be. But, also, the more I listen to an follow the signs, the more unbelievable life seems to be.


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