A cup of coffee is worth a thousand “thank you’s” in the author’s experiment in gratitude.
Esquire contributor Jacobs (It's All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World's Family Tree, 2017, etc.), the bestselling immersive journalist who brought readers The Year of Biblical Thinking and The Know-It-All, returns with an equally ambitious project: an effort to thank every person involved in creating his morning cup of coffee. Starting with the barista at Joe Coffee, which “has survived for twelve years, despite two Starbucks within a three-block radius,” and moving through the entire supply chain to the farmers in Colombia, the author manages to thank 1,000 people who helped deliver him his morning caffeine hit. It’s a novel idea, and it works as more than just a clever plot device thanks to the author’s typically conversational tone and self-deprecating examination of his own need to be more gracious. “I’m mildly to severely aggravated more than 50 percent of my waking hours,” writes Jacobs. “That’s a ridiculous way to go through life.” This sentiment leads to his argument that if humanity spent less time “fretting over what we’re missing,” we might appreciate more of what we have. The author demonstrates this idea with each encounter with a person involved in his coffee’s production, from the lid designer to the Environmental Protection Agency employee in charge of monitoring the Catskills Watershed, the source of New York City’s water. In touring the watershed, Jacobs discovered that the creation of the lake forced the area residents out. “This is a huge theme I need to remember as part of Project Gratitude: My comfort often comes at the expense of others. I benefit daily from the disruption to this community. I need to be more grateful for these sacrifices.”
Thanks to the miracle of caffeine, the author delivers a stirring, nonpreachy sermon on gratitude.