Somebody get MoMA on the horn!

This post is going to bring to light not only my glaring naivete, but also an almost embarrassing level of enthusiasm and idealism that I usually keep more or less to myself. I'm going to run with it for once here, people -- bear with me, ok?

It strikes me as decidedly strange that other people don't consider their work to be "art," for some reason.

According to the Oxford American Dictionary that lives on my windowsill:

art (ahrt) n. 1. the production of something beautiful 2. any practical ability or skill.

Sure, what I do is considered "artistic" in certain circles (hello, coffee geeks!), but I'm of the opinion that the simple act of doing anything well enough and with enough pride makes it artistic in one way or another. That goes for painting as well as, say, rubbish collection.

For instance, and strictly from a coffee professional's POV, let's look at this from the ground(s) up -- not just rosettas this time, but the whole shebang.

The Plant.

I won't get into the agricultural science behind cultivating a high-quality coffee farm (chances are you already know, if you're reading this thing), but let's face it: Maintaining any size or kind of crop -- from windowbox tomatoes to commercially-grown corn to plantation coffee -- is an art form. These delicate green things are alive and unpredictable; Tending to them requires precision and dedication that is completely amazing. Plus, just look at the miraculous bounty in that basket up there.
Skill, ability, beautiful product.

The Roast.

Same goes for roasting: it takes precision and dedication. This is the coffee equivalent of mural painting, of taking something fresh and completely changing its composition, experimenting along the way, working out color and shape, seeing which limits can be pushed, improving on it. Roasting has its own, very nuanced language (both verbal and body), and as a completely subjective kind of work, its yield is as varied as its artists are.
Skill, ability, beautiful product.

The Juice.

Ah, the great dance of the barista. How do you turn those beans into this elixir? Understanding the bodies involved -- your own, the espresso's, the machines', your customers' -- and making them work together gracefully and successfully is like friggin' Swan Lake over here.
Skill, ability, beautiful product.

The Obvious.

We put art on these little canvases not only because it allows us to check our technique, but also because it's the perfect way to remember that this is a creative craft, this is sweat and smarts. Not just anybody can bring these elements together, it takes training, care, common sense, pride and patience from everyone at every stage of the game.
Skill, ability, beautiful product.

Coffee is the focal point of countless people's lives, from farmers to buyers to roasters to shop owners to baristi to enthusiasts, and while there will always be "good art" and "bad art," peole are constantly transformed by it somehow.

All of our jobs have that impact, if you step back and look at them. Really! Look at your own profession, how it's done, and think about whose lives it touches when you are really, truly good at what you do. Are you a teacher? Do you work in a factory? Are you an economist? A retail salesperson? Whom do your efforts affect, and what ripples do you create?

And if after all that, you still don't feel like what you do is like making art in one way or another, then I don't think you're giving yourself enough credit.