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How a daily cup of coffee improved my relationship

Chemex coffee


Every morning, my girlfriend and I sit down to have a cup of coffee on the couch together.

It’s one small chunk of time that has had a surprisingly profound impact on our relationship and on our personal quests to become better people.

We laugh, argue, joke, and cry on that couch, sometimes all in the span of 20 minutes. And then we sip our coffee.

This morning, I told her I wanted to write about our experience. So we drank our coffee and talked about why we think this simple little ritual has made such a big impact on us.

Here’s what we came up with.

It appeases the morning grumpy gods

“Getting handed a cup of coffee and knowing we get to sit on the couch is like getting a little gift. It appeases the morning grumpy gods.”  – Richelle 

Richelle (my girlfriend) is not a morning person. By the time I’m up, out of the shower, and have gone through a couple light stretches, she’s just starting to stir. Maybe.

The only thing that wakes her up and beckons her downstairs is the sound of the coffee grinder and the knowledge that a warm cup will be her reward for gracing me with her presence.

I start the morning creating something

Because most of the work I do involves thinking and tapping away on a computer, I’ve found I really enjoy creating tangible things like food, coffee, tea, or cocktails.

Making coffee is a craft, a kind of meditation for me. It’s a sensory experience.

I like smelling the coffee, pouring beans into the grinder, and watching them transform into little pebbly particles. I like putting the kettle on the stovetop and hearing the water boil.

And I especially love the process of brewing coffee: the slow deliberate pour, the mushroom-like bloom of the grounds absorbing the water, and the trickle of the finished product into the glass bowl of my Chemex. 1

I feel like I’m my best self when I’m creating something. Especially something that’s delicious and that I get to share with others.

We connect without any distractions

Richelle and I only have one rule around our coffee-on-the-couch time: No phones, iPads, music, or other technology.

Removing tech distractions ensures that we’re both right here, right now.

We’re not reacting to any texts or emails that came in overnight. We’re not preoccupied with checking the weather or looking at our schedules for the day.

We’re just here, being a couple.

Sometimes we don’t even talk for the first minute or two. We just sit there, our hands wrapped around our cups, her legs and feet on the couch, mine on the table in front of us.

The world can wait for us to finish our coffee.

We talk about (important) things

Remove all distractions and sit there long enough and you’re bound to talk about all kinds of stuff.

Sure, sometimes it’s idle chat, like dreams we had or our plans for the day. But I’m surprised at how often we have big, important conversations over coffee, too.

We talk about our relationship, what’s going well and what we need to work on. We talk about what we’re doing individually, about the ways we’re trying to become better people. We talk about the projects that are stressing us out, the big, exciting goals we have for the future.

No matter what we talk about, we always stand up with a sense that we accomplished something meaningful.

Meditate, cook, coffee: The relationship trifecta

Along with practicing meditation and cooking meals together, sitting down to have coffee on the couch has been one of the biggest sources of personal satisfaction and positive growth for our relationship.

So much so that I encourage you to try it. You may be surprised at how good it feels to truly connect with your partner, without any distractions or expectations.

And even if it doesn’t work for you the way it worked for us, look on the bright side:

At least you’ll still get to enjoy a good cup of coffee.

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Nate is currently reading Fourth of July Creek and Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation.

Follow Nate on Twitter.

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  1. I’ve experimented with a bunch of different home-brewing techniques, including the Aeroproess and a V-60 pour-over. However, I’ve settled on using a Chemex. Not only is it beautiful, it’s easy to make a delicious, clean cup of coffee. Here’s the recipe and technique I use most often.