Rivers, Roads, and Coffee
The flickering ‘Coffee’ sign makes it hard to focus on the words flowing from my pen. While I am consumed by my notebook there are three business men talking about stocks and ways to finesse more money. A girl with black dreads and pale skin uses both of her hands to hold her coffee as she leans into conversation with a boy. He must be saying the most interesting thing that has ever left a person’s mouth by the way her eyebrows are knit close together and the way she is focusing hard. College students take over the patio studying for finals, and the workers wipe down the counter waiting for their next order to take. The warm lights, smell of coffee, and comfortable vibe of Heine Brothers off Bardstown road is the place in Louisville that I grew from a quiet 14-year-old to a confident 18-year-old about to take my own path. Change is inevitable and for the most part it is always needed, and even as I changed as a person Heine Brothers kept me in their shop daily all four years of high school. Coffee shops having a significant impact on a person’s growth is an odd topic, so I will explain it.
Freshman year. All my friends living in the Highlands and it’s the common area for us to meet up. The five of us meet up and debate about random things, write music, talk about music history, and plan out what life is going to be like. “We will be playing and writing music for the rest of our lives probably.” Sam says shrugging casually. I sit back in my chair and genuinely believing in this moment that this will be the rest of my life. We notice them closing up and leave at closing time as usual, which is a blessing because I always have to get a decent amount of sleep before my cello lesson in the morning. We step outside into warm air and decide what time we would be back tomorrow.
Sophomore year passed. Restricted license, dating, and school had our group of five fade. By junior year we went off on our own. I am in Catholic Social Justice class. My teacher, a jittery young woman, tells us our field trip is going to be to Heine Brothers headquarters to learn about fair trade. We pile on the bus and the windows fog from the heat inside meeting the raw cool temperature outside. We walk in to the building placed in the more urban part of Louisville. I later find out this location was purposefully made to encourage diversity. For now, I am focused on the man approaching. Mike Mays walks in and he is so attractive, not even in a physical sense. He’s humble, but very energetic and hopeful for the growth of his company. People seeming to just be attracted to him and want to hear what he has to say. He genuinely cares for the people he works with. He’s being cautious with his words, making sure to never say they worked ‘for him’. “I work with these people,” He says, “We are a team and that is how a company grows, we work together.” He lets us know specifically that he is proud of how Heine Brothers is a company you can work your way up in no matter where you start. There is something about him, and when he speaks it’s was obvious how much he wants everyone to succeed. He shows pictures of Gorillas that he got inches away from and his adventures around the world. He travels to talk to coffee farmers in person, making sure they were getting paid fairly and their needs are met. I walk out back into the bitter wind outside knowing that was the type of leader I want to be.
Senior year I still meet up with my friends from freshman year and hang out at Heine Brothers. I drive by Heine Brothers and get a salty turtle mocha every morning before school at 7:20am. I didn’t end up obsessively making new lyrics or poems every weekend like we said we would, but I do have a music internship this summer for a musician who played at Bonnaroo. I don’t shut myself in libraries on the weekends or keep my face in a journal, but I do still write and create art. Heine Brothers was where I kept my roots and passions, but I bettered them into something I can make a happy life out of. I learned moderation and the importance of social interaction, leadership and the type of leader I wanted to be, and to visit with friends even when your life is moving fast because you will never regret it. I saw selflessness and caring for others, and I got my favorite cup of coffee while doing it.