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The Power of Love

To end our series of articles about rest, mindfulness, and burnout, I wanted to address one of the most metaphysical subjects: Love. In this article, I will introduce the concept behind the power of love which has some mystical but sometimes scientifically proven facts and impact on quality before applying it to coffee.

Poetically, love has been the secret ingredient in a lot of world-class recipes. Whether it is a food recipe, a brewing one, or just a work process and even a training program, it is what differentiates a standard recipe/project from a world-level one. In 100% of any project, athlete, personality, or restaurant you admire, Love, was one ingredient, maybe not the main, a lot of hard work is necessary to achieve excellence, yet ultimately love was the element that helped us achieve the pinnacle of our work.

For some, it may sound abstract and nonsense, and that’s perfectly fine, come back to this article once life’s little gems convince you.


The reason why you like your mom’s food

Let’s put sensory and childhood memories aside, whoever prepared food for you between 0 and 10 years old is special. Food is part of our survival instinct, we need it to just live. Therefore, the person and their cooking, and flavors who took care of you are special to you.

I have the opportunity to get a closer connection with my guests at the lab, whenever the question “What will be your last meal?”, it’s never grilled scallop, tomahawk steak, chutoro or wagyu, the first thought is our mom’s cooking.

temple food

So the first reason why you love your mom’s cooking is that survival instinct, and the second is the unrealistic, unreasonable unconditional love, that’s a bit harder to prove scientifically.

But there’s a reason why Kobe beef tastes better, a reason why a plant, a coffee plant tended with love yields better fruits or flowers. Those experiments have been done empirically, and prove that love in other forms like care, attention, and precision, yield better results.

How love can change your mental mapping

In the realm of coffee, much like in the field of biology, the essence of our craft is deeply rooted in emotion and feeling. Renowned biologist Antonio Damasio's work highlights that emotions are not merely by-products but central to the life-regulating processes of living beings. At Memli Coffee Lab, we resonate with this philosophy, understanding that the love we infuse into every step of our coffee journey—from farm to cup—is a reflection of our mental and emotional state. Just as Damasio posits that feelings arise from the brain interpreting our physical states, the passion we pour into our craft translates into a tangible experience for our customers.

This consciousness, akin to Damasio's concept of "core consciousness" in animals or the "extended" self in humans, emerges from our dedication and emotional investment. We believe that our mindful approach to coffee not only elevates the sensory experience but also contributes to a deeper sense of happiness and fulfillment for both the maker and the drinker. By embracing this neurobiological and philosophical perspective, Memli Coffee Lab aspires to create a coffee experience that transcends the ordinary, fostering a profound connection between our customers and the rich, vibrant world of coffee.

Now some science, love does change your brain!

“Love is a biological necessity—it’s as needed for our well-being as exercise, water, and food,” said neuroscientist Stephanie Cacioppo, PhD, author of Wired for Love: A Neuroscientist’s Journey Through Romance, Loss, and the Essence of Human Connection (Macmillan, 2022). “And from a neuroscientific viewpoint, we can really say that love blossoms in the brain.”

Two decades of research has shown that when it comes to early-stage intense romantic love—the kind we often think of when we talk about being lovestruck—a very primitive part of the brain’s reward system, located in the midbrain, is activated first, according to Lucy Brown, PhD, a neuroscientist and professor of neurology at Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

Brown and her lab partners used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study 10 women and seven men who were intensely “in love,” based on their scores on the passionate love scale, a 14-item questionnaire designed to assess the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral aspects of passionate love that relationship researchers have widely used for decades.

People who score in the highest range of this assessment are deemed as being wildly, even recklessly, in love. Those who score in the lowest range have admittedly lost their thrill for their partner.

Participants in Brown’s study alternately viewed a photograph of their beloved and a photograph of a familiar person. When viewing the photo of their romantic partner, participants experienced brain activation in the midbrain’s ventral tegmental area (VTA), which is the part of the brain connected to meeting basic needs such as drinking when we’re thirsty and eating when we’re hungry.

Additional fMRI studies conducted by Cacioppo shed more light on how love affects your brain. Her team found 12 areas of the brain work together to release chemicals such as the “feel-good” hormone dopamine, the “cuddle hormone” oxytocin, and adrenaline, which induces a euphoric sense of purpose. Her findings also indicated that the brain’s reward circuit—the amygdala, the hippocampus, and the prefrontal cortex—which is very sensitive to behaviors that induce pleasure, lit up on brain scans when talking about a loved one because of increased blood flow in these areas.

While all of this is happening, Cacioppo noted, our levels of serotonin—a key hormone in regulating appetite and intrusive anxious thoughts, drop. Low levels of serotonin are common among those with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

“This explains why people in the early stages of love can become obsessed with small details, spending hours debating about a text to or from their beloved,” she said.


How to add love to your craft?

From what we have discussed, we know that we need the following: unconditional love, honest & authentic hospitality, memories, and people.

Whenever you are a farmer, a roaster, a barista, or a home brewer, you can add love to your craft at any stage because when you do so, we can taste the quality and that something else:

danche ethiopia
sourcing coffee
  1. Farmer: As a farmer, adding love to your craft begins with cultivating your coffee plants with care and dedication. Ensuring that the soil is rich, the plants are well-nourished, and the environment is protected all contribute to the health and quality of the coffee cherries. This love is reflected in every harvest, where each cherry is picked at its peak ripeness, ensuring the best flavor profiles.

  2. Roaster: For the roaster, love is expressed through the meticulous attention to detail in the roasting process. Understanding the unique characteristics of each batch of beans, adjusting the roast to highlight the best features, and constantly refining your technique ensure that each batch reaches its full potential. This love and dedication result in a roast that tells a story of passion and precision.

  3. Barista: As a barista, adding love means crafting each cup with a personal touch. From the careful measurement of coffee grounds to the precise control of water temperature and brewing time, every step is taken with the goal of creating a perfect cup. Your genuine interaction with customers, sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm for coffee, transforms a simple transaction into a memorable experience. Once again, the knowledge shared is multiplied.

  4. Home Brewer: For the home brewer, love is found in the ritual of preparing coffee. Choosing high-quality beans, grinding them fresh, and experimenting with different brewing methods to find what you enjoy most is an act of self-care and passion. But more importantly, sharing your homemade brew with friends and family spreads this love and creates cherished moments around a shared appreciation for a good cup of coffee.

Can you taste the love in the cup?

Technically no, there is no “love taste” score on any scoresheets, but there is often a very controversial and abstract “overall” score (which is the average of all the other attributes), maybe that one can be used for the love score.

So, you cannot taste love, you can feel it. It’s not about the hours of fermentation of your gesha, or the RoR curve, nor the pouring technique, it’s the interaction of all of these with the person or people you share it with.

I’ve done some live experiments during my workshops a couple of years ago where I served my first flight with more passion and authentic emotions vs. my last Gesha flight with just how “premium” and “unique” it is without background stories. The first flight always won. When I switched to serving all the coffee with passion and a background story, the preferences were more personal.

You can’t taste the love, you can only feel

It and share it. Will Your guest feel it? Maybe…

bagging memli

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