That intoxicating scent filling the office is the first thing to enjoy. Arriving next are a few moments of genuine friendship as we sit together to share our thoughts for the coming day. Before we speak, we sip; savoring something that is worth taking very seriously…coffee.

Our museum staff knows that I consider the office coffee a vital link to our being a successful team. I will often introduce myself to guests not as the boss, but as the one who makes the coffee.

I discovered real coffee in Costa Rica. In a Central American morning sun I drank a cup of pure epiphany. I haven’t settled for bad coffee since. I’m the one in the coffee shop that doesn’t need room for cream. I’m the one that orders the pour over. I consider a competent barista on par with any profession in the world.

We are a small nonprofit, so no, I did not purchase many thousands of dollars of high end coffee makers for the office, but we will never have one of those horrifying K-Cup contraptions. Thankfully, we inhabit a place that shares the passion, and every day I am grateful for the quality that our local 757 coffee roasters  and suppliers offer.  

New interns are always confused. Expecting to do menial tasks while shadowing others doing actual work, he or she will always anticipate their morning chores will include making the office coffee.

Wrong.

The first mistake is the interpretation as a lowly task. Whether first thing in the morning, the middle of a busy day, or a late afternoon, let’s prepare for a long work night ahead, creating a good cup of coffee is ranked as highly as a skilled long-term financial analysis.

I’ll always remember Megan’s first day. Her internship would serve as a bridge on her journey to getting her Masters degree. Brilliant on numerous levels, she had already proved her skill in school and through internships at other organizations. With all of the staff present, on her very first bright-eyed shift, she perks in perfect naiveté,

“Shall I put on some coffee?”

Silence.

There’s an uneasy moment as the staff comes to grip with her gaff.

As an intern or volunteer, you most distinctly move up to having the responsibility for brewing the magic. Pay attention, work hard, prove yourself worthy, and you may be promoted with our prized mark of professional mobility. So, incoming interns, please do not be offended. We’re not going to ask you to make the coffee. In fact, we won’t even let you make the coffee. In the beginning, you’ll have to defer to someone more experienced, more qualified.

The other morning I glanced over at the pot to see Jessica getting a fresh blend ready for mid-day. The glowing pride in her expression is pronounced. She gets it now. She understands the journey. And the coffee is good.

Interns to be, as that moment arrives when we sit together in this very special place, doing our very special work, please, take a deep breath and slow down. Be with friends. Sip. Savor.

And dream of that day we ask you to put the coffee on.

William