WHO TOLD US THAT we needed to lead these high-performance lives? It wasn’t coffee, the drink. It was Big Coffee, the business. Those industrious people with beans by the boatful and an inelegant promise to sell. They told us we were tired and run down and needed to be jumpstarted and re-energized and fueled. And we believed them. They told us we weren’t good enough on our own. That we lacked vim and vigor. That our ambitions needed to be acceler- ated. That a little liquid hubris was precisely what society needed to be its best. And we drank it all up. But do we really need to be turbocharged? Aren’t our desires big enough and wonderful enough on their own? Did this carefully packaged ideal of high-octane living truthfully ever make us better, more attuned, more resourceful, or more responsive beings? Has rushing into that all-too-familiar “third place” and leaving all a-jitter really been the best way to embrace the world? Or each other? Has it made more present? More insightful? More understanding? More loving? Has it made us more human? Wiser? More helpful? More kind? Have we advanced our capacity for empathy? Have we been smarter? Or have we simply been faster on the draw? Quicker to think, quicker to judge, quicker to speak, quicker to act, quicker to grab center stage and dance our own little self-indulgent java jig? Good questions. Questions we neglect to ask in this fidgety age of instant gratification. “Quick, quick, quick!” says Big Coffee. “Now, now, now!” And there we go, jumping left and right and up and down, simply because we’re too jacked up to do anything else. “Go! Go! Go! Flex and flinch and scream and, by all means, grind the liv- ing grit out of those teeth! Use energy! Waste energy! Pump it up! Make some noise! Damn the consequences, this is about roaring loud and roaring strong and not giving two espresso shots what comes after! Do it now! Carpe venti… quad… whatever!” And we gulp it all down and hurry on out. What else can we do? The din is just so loud. The urge is just so strong. Big Coffee shook the world awake and turned it upside down and shook the coins from its pockets. Shaken awake. That’s us. Wide, wide awake. Wider awake than any human should ever have to be. We are the puppets and Big Coffee is the puppeteer. Pull- ing our strings, making us dance their jittery jive and grinding our gears in self-destructive friction. Mistaking mania for meaning. Palpitations for purpose. Gnawing our nails to kill time as we wait in line for the next oversized recyclable flagon of hype. Hyper-aware of our own hyper-awareness of being hyper-on the edge of sanity. Wouldn’t know honest pleasure or consciousness if they spilled a boiling hot cup of it on our collective lap. Too busy being too busy. No peace. No mind. Only need. Only want. Big Coffee is loudness in a world begging for a whisper. Big Coffee is forcing culture, not cultivating it. And the pure, fingernails-on-chalkboard truth is that coffee, that simple, brown, benevolent, hijacked, co-opted beverage was never allowed to find an honest place in society. Big Coffee made damn sure of that. And the mere suggestion that we slow down just a little? Why it’s heresy! Blasphemy! Mutiny! Treason! A criminal violation of their insipid, all-organizing fiction of more and faster and louder and always, always, always, two sizes bigger. They will tell you that to relax is to become lax. To de-evolve. Well, we beg to differ. In fact, the truth is: we think coffee could really use a cup of tea right about now. And so could you. Along with an elegant, humble place to sit and simply enjoy said tea. A place defined by small, humanizing gestures. A place where one’s mind can wander rather than march. A place where one can let life steep a little and find some distance from the rattle and hum. A place where one can press the reset button on what’s left of one’s over-amped physiology and partake in that comforting and original act of Connecting With Another Human Be- ing. To hear and be heard. To feel. To smile. And yes, to… leave... pauses. When you come to this place, your place, tea’s place, and you sit down and you lean back and give your thoughts that tiny poetic bit of breathing room, the realities of Big Coffee’s grand global hoodwink will gradually come into razor-sharp focus. Along with a lot of other things. We are Small Tea. And we cordially invite you to come and be human, to take your time in get- ting to know bliss, to be gloriously unproductive, and unapologetically alive.