This morning, I got up and went to church 45 minutes early so that I could learn how to steam milk. One of the cool things about my church here at school is that they are trying very hard to foster community among members. One of the ways that they are doing this is to have 45 minutes for crafts, fellowship, a values talk, and, in my case, coffee lessons.
I've always had a love-affair with the idea of becoming a barista. This past semester, I wrote a short story starring two baristas. I did a lot of research. So much, in fact, that my hands began to shake from the caffeine.
This morning, I was pretty nervous as I poured the milk into the silver pitcher. I put the thermometer into the milk and submerged the tip of the steamer before turning it on very slowly. Sarah, the barista who was helping me told me I could turn it on a little more. I tell that she was trying not to laugh at my extreme caution. I watched the temperature rise to 100 degrees, trying to make the hissing sound instead of the screaming sound. At 100, I plunged the tip further into the milk and watched it spin.
It is really hard to keep milk smooth.
I removed the nozzle from the milk, not waiting until the steam was off the first time and creating large bubbles. I smacked the pitcher down on the counter and watched the bubbles disappear.
My first steamed milk.
Several other people were learning how to make coffee with me. One woman had a baby with her. She was not volunteering for a turn at hands on. I offered to hold her baby, and her eyes lit up.
While I made faces at this squirmy, happy little girl named Haven, her mother learned how to steam milk. It was wonderful.
After my lesson, the morning coffee rush started. All of the other coffee students had rushed away, but I was there with Sarah and I knew now how to steam milk. I did several pitchers in quick succession. Practice was helping my nervousness. It's nice to have customers.
By the end, I was anticipating needs and putting things away, wiping down the machines and putting away the milk, pouring the caramel lattes before I was asked. It was really fun.
We're having church in a tent during the first month of school. I walked out into the sun and took a seat.
It's hard to connect sometimes at church, it's hard to find time to talk and to spend time with people. Even though it was only 45 extra minutes, (45 minutes I could have been sleeping) those moments made all the difference in how connected I felt.
The connection made the rest of church, which is always a great blessing and encouragement, even more complete and whole. It was as though I had only been coming to church for dessert. But what's dessert without the main course, or, for that matter, without coffee?
They're calling this time "doing life together." It's pretty sweet. I met people, I connected and I steamed milk. It doesn't get much better than that.