REFLECTIONS: Coffee Meditations


By Tim Warlow

Every morning I awake at 5:30 am. Usually it is silent but for the occasional whimper of my dogs, who are ready to start the day with collar-biting antics. Before my tired eyes can even adjust to the light, my brain is focused on one thing: making coffee. I know water is what my body needs, but coffee is what my being required to execute my morning routine properly. As trite as the two-dollar sign at Hobby Lobby may be, it’s true: coffee is good for the soul.


It’s the best thing to drink while catching up with old friends or making new acquaintances. It’s what we turn to when the day has soured and we need respite from the burden of adulting. If I were to ever be on death row making my last meal request, it would start with a quality Ethiopian Geisha coffee and end with coffee-flavored ice cream.

But there’s more to it than just perk and circumstance. Coffee is an expression of quality and gratitude that can transmogrify your mood, and I intend to show you how it can also be a tool to create an unstoppable positive attitude.

Do you ever feel sorry for yourself? Have you ever felt like the world was against you and there was nothing you could do to escape?

In this modern age of instant gratification and never-ending fake-happy jealousy-inducing news feeds, it’s easy to feel sorry for ourselves, especially when something doesn’t go our way. Everyone else is living the life we dreamt of. Everyone else is getting rich flipping JPEGs of monkeys and we’re still working our asses off. Everyone else is on vacation every other week and we’re slaving away at the job we stopped enjoying 5 years ago.

Poor pitiful me…

Here is a life hack for turning the world’s tiniest violin into an symphony orchestra of infinite happiness: when you are feeling sorry for yourself, switch your focus to gratitude. It’s nearly impossible to feel self-pity when you feel fortunate just to be alive, to even have the experience of self-pity, to have protection from the elements, to have food in your belly, to have a person in your life that brightens your day, to have healthy kids, parents, siblings, and spouses. You’re fortunately to simply have 5 minutes to reflect on what you are most grateful for.

For me, that’s coffee time.

Think about a simple three-dollar cup of coffee. It’s hot water and ground bean juice. It arrives in a ceramic mug or in a cardboard cup, with a cardboard sleeve over it to keep your hand from burning. There’s even a nifty plastic plug to keep the hot liquid from scalding you.

As simple as it sounds, the effort necessary to deliver you a simple cup of pleasure is beyond extensive and required a multitude of effort from people you will never know.
The water was poured by a barista who woke up at 5 a.m. to get to work on time to start brewing the coffee before the first wave arrived. They probably pulled themselves a quick shot of espresso to beat their sleepiness. Hopefully this barista loves what they do. Hopefully, they are as passionate about water temperature, coffee production, and even water filtration as some of my barista friends are.

The water was filtered through a reverse osmosis system designed and built by some faraway genius who knows more about water chemistry than you could even fathom. The water got to the shop through pipes the city so elegantly designed decades ago to bring it from some distant underground source up into its processing facility, the likes of which cost millions of dollars to design, build and maintain. The engineer was passionate about creating a system specially designed for this city because of the characteristics of its iron and lime-rich groundwater.

The coffee used to make your cup was brought by a delivery driver who also woke up before the sun to start his shift. He earnestly carries thousands of pounds a day in burlap sacks sewn by some kid in Cambodia working his daily 16-hour shift so one day he can afford the cup of coffee you’re drinking.

The farmers that worked to plant, grow and harvest the coffee that eventually made it to your home or local shop worked incredibly hard. Demand for coffee is high and its cultivation is a labor-intensive process often resulting in families employing their own children to work, instead of sending them to school. You don’t need to feel bad about this, but you should feel grateful.

Have you ever dealt with someone so unreasonable it felt like you were the victim of some practical joke? Had to protest your taxes? Gone to court for something out of your control? Been unfairly punished at work for a job that wasn’t your responsibility?

Recently I was working with a particularly difficult client. He was changing his mind constantly, blaming me for things that weren’t in my control, even accusing me of things I knew I had not done. He was flat out wrong, possibly losing his mind, but I was stuck working with him due to a contractual obligation. I felt sorry for myself. He was wearing me out from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed for three days straight. On the third night I went to bed thinking how it wasn’t fair, that I was the victim of his behavior and I wish it wasn’t on me to deal with him. The next morning I woke up with the same dread I had the night before, made my coffee and meditated on my breath. I slowly felt gratitude come to the surface. I was grateful for the opportunity for another challenge on this day, and I was confident the universe would find a way to help me overcome this opponent in front of me. Then I started my workout while listening to the Daily Stoic podcast from Ryan Holiday.

His special guest that day was Robert Green, an excellent contemporary philosopher who was talking about the fact that most people fail to strategize against their enemies in life and often become the victim of their whims. If you do not strategize, take time to understand your opponents wants, needs and communication style, you will be overcome by them. If you waste time trying to figure out why someone is attacking you and not what you can do to overcome them, you will die before defending yourself. So the lightbulb clicked. Had I not been in the gratitude mindset from my coffee meditations, ready to receive more wisdom, I could not have heard the message I needed to hear.

I took 5 minutes to write down the characteristics, wants and needs of my unruly client. I decided at that moment I would not be a victim of his onslaught and to craft a message that would show I empathize with his position, but disagree with it, that he is heard and understood, but not correct. We would find a way to move in the right direction without any more hostility.

It worked.

The tone of our conversation changed almost instantly and within the next two hours he admitted he was wrong, that he had reviewed our communication and I had not in fact done anything to deserve the assault.

Gratitude abounds and in return more good follows. The victim mentality is one of scarcity and has no place in a world created of your volition.

So when you get a good cup of coffee, stop what you are doing for just a moment, revel in it, and take it in. Reflect on the great things in your life and be ready to receive anything that life throws at you graciously. Because, frankly, it’s better than a world where nothing happens and everything is boring.

I’m confident if you can implement this type of meditation into your daily routine, good things will happen to you. Because, everything is a good thing when you’re grateful to be alive.

Hill Country local real estate agent,
investor, entrepreneur, musician
and avid day-trader. Interested in all
things music, beer and money. Tim
runs the Countdown Realty Team
with Keller Williams, and is creating
a real estate investment fund and
investment mentorship. You can find him
at one of the many local brewpubs.

Timothy Warlow, Jr.
Countdown Realty Team
Mobile: (210) 818-9457