Different strokes

Volume 16, . Comments

People can all get along. It does happen. And, ironically, it’s happening in Jerusalem.

I traveled to this walled city recently, not on business and not to see friends.

I’d just made it through a crisis in my personal life. I traveled alone as a pilgrim, curious about why this walled city held so much significance for three of the world’s most important religions.

I discovered that Jerusalem is a true crossroads of culture. It’s a mecca for Christians, Jews and Muslims the world over. That means just about every nationality is present there, within the space of about 224 acres. That’s the size of a medium-sized coffee farm.

I walked the stations of the cross in the city’s Christian section. I visited the Church of the Pater Noster, where The Lord’s Prayer is displayed in more than 100 languages.

In the Jewish section I visited the Wailing Wall and tucked a prayer, written on a piece of paper, between its stones.

In the Muslim section I walked to the entrance of the Dome of the Rock. This is the site from which Mohammed is said to have ascended into Heaven and Jesus last prayed before his crucifixion.

All of this is within a few minutes walk. Jerusalem is a place of convergence. Every form of dress is present. Hundreds of languages and ways of viewing the world all coexist peacefully. That’s what so impressive about the place.

You also encounter every kind of food you can imagine. I talked to a lot of people in Jerusalem. And being a coffee groupie, well, let’s just say the subject came up.

When you ask for coffee in the Arab section, you get a very strong, small ceramic cup blended with cardamom and made Turkish style, boiled three times. You drink two or three of them.

In the Jewish section, they make coffee using the cheapest French press in the world – a spoon, used to press the coffee grounds to the bottom of a boiling glass. In the Christian section, everyone has drip coffee makers.

It gave me pause to reflect. When people ask “Which is the best coffee in the world? the answer is, “Different strokes for different folks.” People in different cultures have varying relationships with coffee. It’s all good. That’s why at Britt, we’ve developed many blends and regionals, with flavors ranging from bright to strong.

Outside the walled city, is the congested traffic of modern Israel. The soldiers with automatic machine guns. The noise and tension of one of the world’s hotbeds of cultural violence.

Inside the walls, Jerusalem is peace. It’s not an Arab world. It’s not an Israeli or Christian or Jewish world. It’s the whole world. I was profoundly moved by it.

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About Steve Aronson

New York coffee broker Steve Aronson founded Café Britt in 1985 to market roasted Costa Rican coffees to the world.


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