OPINION COLUMNS

Keeping Austin Weird: Slow down and smell the coffee

By Austin Jackson | Published Saturday, March 23, 2019
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Coffee Master

COFFEE MASTER – Trinity Street Coffee Bar operations manager Kasey Headley mixes his drink “The Balancing Act,” which he will present March 28-31 at the Coffee Masters in London. Messenger photo by Austin Jackson

My kidneys would be the first to admit – I’m an energy drink guy.

I pay roughly $4 per day, Monday through Friday, for my preferred elixir.

Austin Jackson

It gives me wings, I guess. It makes my hands shake and my stomach sour, too.

It’s instant gratification, a rapid yellow jolt to my system that my body claims is necessary for productivity.

I’m working on it, OK. It’s a crutch and a costly addiction. But I have hope in re-wiring my system.

One thing that’s helping ween me off the blue and silver can is the local coffee shop in Decatur. It’s helping me learn that my gotta go now, instant energy seeking behavior should be a thing of the past.

Back in July, I was fresh off quitting my last job, accepting my current one and in search of that gratifying jolt of caffeine. I had low expectations, a desire for a pick me up and lots of questions.

How good could a coffee place in a small town like this be? (Really good, apparently.)

Where did these hip coffee people come from? (Still undetermined.)

Why are they doing all this weird, time consuming stuff to the coffee?

The last question was answered last week as I talked to barista and operations manager Kasey Headley.

Headley is just one of the hip coffee people there who turn coffee beans into art.

On Thursday, Headley will be representing America as he faces off against the best of the best baristas in the world at Coffee Masters premier barista competition in London.

He’s the only American selected for the competition. He works at the coffee shop in Decatur. That fact still floors me. One of the best drink makers in the world works in Decatur.

This will be Headley’s third time competing. And this year, I got to see him craft his drink, “The Balancing Act” in person.

Shamefully during my first visit, I found myself a little flummoxed by the attention to detail and careful manipulation of coffee.

As a person who’s coffee pallet is more familiar with the trough of coffee offerings, I had no idea why they didn’t just pour something in a cup and take my money.

Last week, I grew to understand why.

Every method and tool had a specific purpose – to bring out the flavor to showcase the coffee beans and create the best possible experience in a cup.

Headley was performing his art. And the people at Trinity Street Coffee take their art seriously.

Watching the creation is part of the experience. You see the care and craft. It helps me appreciate the work that was put into the drink as I forced myself to take it slow instead of swiftly gulping down the drink.

One thing I’m learning since my time in Wise County is that it’s never a bad idea to slow down.

Another thing I’ve learned is that the local coffee place is a good place to do it.

Austin Jackson is a Messenger reporter

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