O Taste and See


There was a time in my life that I thought black coffee was as tasty as mud flavored water. For those who drank it black, I viewed them as grizzly mountain men. Those brave enough to sip on the unrefined wilderness of the coffee world.

Before I enjoyed a cup, I had to add various syrups and creams to make it more palatable. In reality my coffee was more like coffee flavored hot chocolate. As someone with an insatiable sweet tooth, I was ok with that.

At least until I made friends with a few self-proclaimed “3rd wave coffee drinkers”...

They approached coffee like an artist does an easel or a scientist does their beakers. I listened to them talk about different coffee cuppings (aka coffee tastings), how to “pull the best ‘spro” (aka make espresso), and upcoming barista competitions.

What truly peaked my curiosity was when they would sip on a freshly brewed cup of black coffee. They would describe it using words like chocolate, melon, toffee, sweet lemon, and rhubarb syrup.

I would think, “Black coffee that tastes like rhubarb syrup and chocolate?? They have to be messing with me. How could black coffee taste like that…?”  To which they insisted that good coffee made the right way can stand alone.

Like a kid peeking at his presents under the Christmas tree, my curiosity got the best of me and I tried it for myself. My thoughts..?? Well, fast forward a few years and many cups of black coffee later, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In essence, this is why I love campus ministry. I am not necessarily speaking of introducing students to good coffee (although I love doing this). Much more so, I love introducing them to a relationship they believed could never be so good. That is the caffeine that gets me out of bed in the morning. The moment when a student goes from seeing Jesus as “mud flavored” religion to experiencing a relationship with Him that stands alone.

So may I ask, how do we describe our relationship with Jesus? You never know what curiosity it may stir.

—Ryan Koster

Ryan serves as a Chi Alpha missionary to the University of Minnesota Twin Cities since 2012. While pursuing a career in healthcare, Ryan took a quick detour to intern with XA after graduation. The detour would become a bit more permanent after receiving a call into ministry. Ryan’s passion is simple... to serve, love, and lead Gophers into a genuine relationship with Jesus… one cup of coffee at a time.   

Brandon Cranor