“Stop Working. It’s Coffee Time.”

A Story.

Over the summer, I worked a fast-paced job surrounded by fast-paced people with an incredible appetite for getting work done. It was exciting and exhausting, and I miss it dearly.

Interestingly, the most important moment I took away from this job was not completing a task, or solving a problem in a tricky situation, or rushing off to help colleagues.

One morning, I was setting up breakfast with a number of co-workers. It was a chilly New England morning on a beautiful New England college campus, and we knew that we would soon have hundreds of hungry people on our hands. The food had to taste good, smell good, and look good. We couldn’t afford to run out of yogurt or blueberries; the tablecloths couldn’t blow off the tables. There were mouths to feed and a strict aesthetic to maintain.

I was surprised when my boss, who was normally laser-focused on achieving goals and completing tasks, stopped all our work just before people started to arrive.

“Alright, everybody stop. C’mon, take a break. It’s time to have coffee.”
“Rachel. Hey- Rachel! Put down the cream cheese. C’mon.”
“I’m not kidding! Everybody come here. We’re having coffee now.”

“A chilly New England morning on a beautiful New England college campus”

We sat and drank coffee.

We didn’t talk about the hundreds of people that would be arriving soon. We didn’t talk about what needed to be done later that day. We didn’t talk about whether or not we had enough support to accomplish our goals.

We talked about great local ice cream. We showed each other pictures friends and loved ones had posted on Instagram. We playfully argued about our love of (or disdain for) Sugar in the Raw.

We sat and drank coffee.

Too often, we fail to take advantage of coffee time. We drive to the coffee shop where we buy coffee which we then bring elsewhere, or drink while we get something “important” done.

At other points throughout my summer, I made this mistake. In Louisville, KY and Portland, ME, I bought coffee with friends only to rush on to something else. Desperate for caffeine, I failed to be present and to engage in meaningful conversation.

Now, as I can put my entire summer into perspective, it is that otherwise indistinctive coffee I had one early morning in Williamstown, MA that I remember. In those few minutes of downtime and Dunkin, I was reminded that coffee can be so much more than a part of waking up.

I’m making an effort to recreate moments like this one.

“Alright, everybody stop. C’mon, take a break. It’s time to have coffee.”

It doesn’t have to be during a busy morning at work. It doesn’t have to be in Williamstown, MA. It doesn’t even have to be coffee. It’s a reminder that we can all benefit from taking a break, sitting down, and engaging in meaningful conversation. (But, I mean, I’m never going to turn down coffee.)

Caffeine and conversation can bring us together like few other things. If someone tells you to drop everything for a coffee break, do it. It’s worth it.