It was the kind of damp and blustery day that made you wonder if you’ve completely missed autumn.
As I approached the exit of Monument station, I saw people converging under the narrow shelter of the door way. Some refused to leave, umbrellas were called into action, last minute messages were being sent on phones before the rain dumped a barrage of wet fingers on the screen. A man smoked a quarter of a cigarette in one inhalation to steel himself, before tossing the butt into a puddle. I walked straight out and proceeded to cross the bridge over the Thames. Completely exposed.
I arrived at The Gentleman Baristas in Jerwood Space. The first in. I took my wet coat off, gathered myself and greeted the Barista. I looked outside towards the endless grey and, for the first time, I wondered if I’d misjudged the entire occasion.
It wasn’t long before my doubts were extinguished. Over the next 30 minutes or so, I watched how just a handful of people, who came with nothing but pure humility, filled an entire room and brought such warmth.
We had fantastic coffee together, got stuck in with conversation, laughed, learned and bonded in a short time. What is equally interesting is what we didn’t do as a group. No one made a great effort for that ‘Instagram moment’; to break away from each other and the moment. For the same reason I forgot to take a group picture, which is perhaps a shame. I walked away from the day wishing I’d said more. I was already looking forward to picking up unfinished conversations.
We felt comfortable with each other, over a shared passion. I’d hoped for this, but was worried I was being too idealistic. Later in the evening, the feedback from those who came, as well as those who didn’t was so positive and assuring. I’m keen to stress that the meetup is not an organised ‘event’ but more of a gathering of friends. A laid back meet, where individuals get back what they put in. It’s really nothing to do with me, so if its considered a success, I only have those who attended to thank.
I’m currently planning the next. Using what I learned from this first meetup, as well as now having a core bunch of attendees, I have no doubt that the future meets will be just as enjoyable and valuable. I know that as more new people come along, the usual faces of the future meetups will welcome those first timers with open arms. I’m looking forward to that, greatly.
In fact, I’m excited about all the possibilities this humble act could bring. As long as people want to drink great coffee and be part of this micro-community, there will always be this opportunity to enjoy a simple but special coffee, with friends.