Coffee and Culture

By Caleb Schirmer

The coffee can never exceed the excellence of its culture. The coffee alone simply prompts us of who it brings together: people – loved, treasured, and seen. Cusping over Seven’s Hill, I see a small coffee shop on the corner of SE 6th and Stonewall. The clouds made for a quiet atmosphere, its gates impending a deluge. As soon as I park, I run over to the other side of the road, where I see my friend on the coffee shop porch. Facing a door with the coffee shop’s logo, we walked inside.

Whenever I open the door to a coffee shop, I will face more than just the La Marzocco espresso machine or the flowery taste of pressed beans. Affirming my memories of coffee communities, we now enter a notable history. So, we can only go through it once you know where it’s been. Coffee Culture, the first Black-owned coffee shop in OKC, stands as a reminder that only eminence can start with a vision of the people. It stood to represent its rich history and integrate into the previously established Black community. Today, while connecting to the Black community, culture continually connects with other communities. Being white, I still felt welcomed – a value transcending all communities, regardless of racial history, skin color, or background. 

The barista smiles, laughs, and delightfully takes my oat milk latte order. As I wait for my order, I breathe in the smell of pressed beans, partnering with the black mural and the greenery. They celebrate Black History all year with posters of past leaders (Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks) and local leaders (Henrietta B. Foster and Charlie Christian). It was refreshing to see the faces of our history and present times.

My latte was ready: the marriage of a milk tulip and caramel beige, every coffee enthusiast’s fairytale. It was crowded that morning, so we decided to talk outside. (Culture was too good for a light gathering). Several coffee tables dispersed throughout the deck make it easier to pick a spot. We sat on the south side to cover ourselves from the north wind and rain. While recollecting the past week, we sipped our lattes.

Though it was chillier than anticipated, it was no match for the floral latte and the tender heart of this time together. I could not help but feel a sense of gratitude. I am grateful to this small corner of town for speaking confidently of its past, present, and future. I am thankful it invites us to enjoy one another’s company. Reflecting on Black History Month, I am deeply grateful that God’s love surpasses all strife, trial, and sorrow but also restores these barriers. Where loneliness resides, coffee and community conquer. Where sorrow leaves a void, Jesus Christ will prevail – and that is the most incredible culture there will ever be.