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7 Finely-Ground Principles for Living a Full-Bodied Life
By Theresa Cheung
Copyright © 2003
All right reserved.
The Seven Principles of
1. Reheating causes bitterness.
Your past is the reason, not the excuse.
2. Start with fresh grounds.
Learn from your mistakes, don't repeat them.
3. Use the correct grind.
Put right what you can and accept what you can't.
4. Use high-quality beans and fresh, pure, cold
Celebrate your uniqueness.
5. Get the proportions right.
Challenge irrational thinking.
6. Boiling destroys the flavor.
Check your stress levels.
7. Drink it while it's hot.
Live in the present.
If you reheat coffee it won't taste good. It's the same with your life.
Rehashing the past will bring a bad taste to your life. For happy,
contented living, take responsibility in the now, and move forward
from this moment.
:: Life Is Yours for the Tasting
The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which
the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup can not
be expected to reproduce.
-Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, writer and physician
Make sure the coffee you drink is always fresh. The split-second,
stop-action pleasure that comes with that first sip will remind you
that every day is a fresh chance to make important changes in
your life. Every day you can start over.
You can't change what has been done or said. Let the past go.
Remember that you did the very best that you could do at the
time and now look forward to a positive future. Understand your
past; don't use it as an excuse. If you feel you have behaved badly
or made mistakes, then apologize and try to make things right.
When you have done the best that you can do, accept responsibility
and move forward.
Stop blaming yourself. Everyone makes mistakes. Learn from
them, understand your motivations, and seize the initiative to
make changes in your life. If you are feeling bad about your
love life, do something about it. Find ways to meet people. Be
friendly. Ask other people out. They may not know how great you
are. If you need a better job, don't wait for the perfect one to
find you. Go after it. Having a can-do attitude isn't being aggressive
and pushy-it is simply being enthusiastic, enterprising, and
To be happy, you don't need to succeed in everything you do,
but you do need to believe that you have control over your life.
Research suggests that those who feel they are responsible for
their own decisions are often more satisfied with their lives than
those who do not. People are happiest when they allow their individual
personality to express itself, not when they try to conform
to someone else's identity.
Don't wait for others to set the pace. Be a leader. Don't wait for
opportunity to find you. Seek it out. Happy people are not necessarily
more talented than anyone else, but they usually get what
they want because they seek opportunities, not guarantees. They
don't wait for incentives but are constantly alert to what is going
on around them. They know that every situation holds the seed of
opportunity, and when it appears they are prepared to let go of
the past and take action to create a better future. Every day is full
of golden opportunities. Every day is fresh and new and happy.
Contented people make sure they taste every moment.
:: Five Ways to Ruin Your Coffee:
Adding overheated milk. Be sure that the milk is warm, not
Reheating your coffee by bringing it back to a boil.
Mixing old coffee with new in a jar.
Overmeasuring-you won't make stronger coffee by adding
more grains. Buy a stronger roast.
Using boiling water-it makes the coffee bitter.
:: What's Gone Wrong?
Coffee tastes dull. Use fresh, cold water-let the tap run for a
while before you fill the kettle. Pour the boiled water onto the
coffee five seconds after it has boiled, but don't leave it. Fifteen
seconds' delay can make all the difference between dull and
Coffee looks gray. You have chosen too dark a roast. For a
milky coffee, you need a full-flavored variety such as a Colombia
or a Java.
Coffee tastes bitter. It could be a cheap coffee, containing
Robusta. Try pure Arabica instead. You may also have used too
much coffee or added boiling water or milk.
:: No More Excuses
Your past is the reason not the excuse. Stop regretting what has
happened and wish that you had done something different. You
can look back and regret your actions but you cannot change the
past. All you can do is understand and learn from it. Blaming yourself
or others for things that didn't go well is only going to turn
your spirit bitter. Bitter coffee can't work its comfort and magic,
and neither can a bitter spirit. Don't keep turning the past over
and over again in your mind; it won't accomplish anything and
will only make you feel powerless.
The past is there to be understood, not dwelled on. Understand
why you behaved a certain way. What were your reasons? What
were your motivations? What part did you play in creating your
present circumstances? Accept responsibility and let go. Let yourself
off the hook. We all make mistakes. Learn from them and
Start with today. Excuses won't help you move forward with
your life. Excuses are those little voices in our heads telling us we
can't do something because of what happened in the past. So
leave the past behind and take action in the present. Ever notice
how motivated people become when they are diagnosed with a
terminal illness? Don't wait for that shock before you pursue the
life of your dreams.
In one year, Anthony Burgess finished five novels. What motivated
him was being told he had only six months to live. He had
no money to leave to his wife, and writing was all he could think
to do to leave any kind of security for his family.
But Anthony Burgess did not die. His cancer went into remission
and then disappeared. In his long and full life, Burgess wrote
seventy books. Without the death sentence from cancer at age
forty, he might never have written anything.
You don't need a death sentence to start doing the things you
have always wanted to do with your life. You can do them all right
now. Take a coffee break, and list five things you would do differently
in the next six months if you thought you had only a year
to live. If you are finding it hard to break from routine, don't try
to change everything at once. Do just one thing differently, and
as you start feeling refreshed this will motivate you to further
Remember your past is the reason, not the excuse. Regret, guilt,
and blame drag you back into the past and do nothing to improve
your present situation. Let your past go, and look forward to a
:: Wake up and Smell the Coffee
The first principle of coffee wisdom is take responsibility for your
life. This encourages you to be proactive.
Every day we have many chances to choose between being
proactive or reactive. The weather is bad, you get a disappointment
at work, you miss the train, you get a parking ticket or spill
your coffee. So, how do you respond? Do you fly off the handle?
Do you shout and scream? Or do you make a decision to deal with
what comes up and move on? The choice is yours.
Reactive people make choices on impulse. They are like trees
blown in the wind. If the wind gets strong, they break. Proactive
people think first and then act. They recognize that they can't
always control what happens to them, but they can control the
way they react. They'd rather spend their lives feeling calm than
feeling upset. They don't let other people or things ruin their day.
Has this ever happened to you? One of your friends meets you
for a chat and coffee only when her partner is out of town. You
feel like you are being used to keep her company when her partner
Tell her you think she is selfish and insensitive.
Give her the cold shoulder.
Tell everyone that she isn't a good friend.
Confront her calmly and tell her how you feel.
Give her a second chance, understanding that she has weaknesses
just like you and that you may sometimes neglect your
friends without realizing it.
You can usually tell when you are being reactive by the language
you use. "That's just the way I am" is typical reactive language.
What it really means is, "I have no responsibility for the
way I am. I can't change." When you say, "If he or she hadn't done
that, things would be different," what you are really saying is someone
else is the cause of your problems. When you say, "You just
made me feel bad," what you are really saying is, "I am not in control.
You are." When you say, "If only I had lived somewhere else,
been in another job, had more money," and so on, what you are
really saying is, "I am not in control of my happiness, things are.
I'm a victim. Everyone has it in for me, and the world owes me
Notice that reactive language takes power away from you and
gives it to someone else or something else. It's like saying, "You are
in charge of my mood. Do with it what you like." Proactive language,
on the other hand, gives control back to you. You are then
free to choose how you behave. Reactive language: That's just the
way I am. There is nothing I can do. I have to. Proactive Language:
I'll do it. I can do better than that. Let's consider the options. I
Voltaire, who was said to have consumed fifty cups of coffee a
day, likened life to a game of cards. Each player must accept the
cards life deals him or her. But once the cards are in our hands,
each of us must decide how to play them in order to win the game.
You can't always control what happens to you, but you can control
how you choose to respond. You can make excuses, or you
can take control. The choice is yours.
The Boston Tea Party should have been called the Boston Coffee
Break because it prompted America to turn its back on tea leaves
and embrace the shiny bean.
Have you ever thought you were right about something and
then found out that you were completely wrong? Sometimes finding
out a bit more information about something or someone can
completely change your perspective. You suddenly start seeing
things in a new way, as if you have just bought a new pair of contact
lenses. For example, you think your friend is moody because
you have offended, but her moodiness has nothing to do with you
and everything to do with her financial worries.
Just as we have views about other people, which can often be
wrong, we also have ideas about ourselves that are out of whack.
Think of all those limiting perceptions we have of ourselves such
as: I'm no good at this, I can't do that, and I'm not like that. Why
not surprise yourself, change your attitude, and do something
today that totally contradicts that?
To change your attitude, you need to be willing to shock yourself
out of old, limiting attitudes. What kind of a person do you
think you are? Do you think there are lots of things "wrong" with
you? Most of the negative beliefs you hold about yourself have
no foundation in reality. You are not really unkind, selfish, stupid,
no good, and so on. You learned your beliefs about yourself many
years ago when you believed everything that you heard. If, for
example, you were told that you were stupid when you were small,
you may still have that belief now. You may be very clever, but
deep down you believe that you are stupid. This negative belief
colors your whole life, and you will doubt yourself until you can
change your negative beliefs.
Let go of negative self-beliefs and be willing to embrace new, freeing
attitudes. Train your mind to believe positive things instead. It
really is that simple. For example, instead of believing that you are
stupid, contradict this by telling yourself you are clever. Say it as many
times as you can remember to. Write it down in your diary. Sing it on
the way to work. Keep saying it until you start to believe it.
Positive thinking really does work. Don't believe me? Why not
give it a try. Just keep telling yourself good things. What have you
got to lose? Just a lifetime of negativity and low self-esteem.
You may well find that moving beyond old, limiting attitudes
is the coffee wisdom principle that is the hardest to live by. It's
tough breaking old habits. It's tough living life in the here and
now. So don't get discouraged if you struggle. Here are a few tips:
Don't wait until you are better at doing things until you do
them. Put your coffee cup down, leave your insecurities behind,
and have a go now.
Be a good role model for your loved ones. Do you want your
children or family or friends to learn confidence or insecurity
from you? Let them see you moving forward with optimism,
not endlessly rehashing the past.
Go through your closet and throw out your old clothes. Are
you hanging onto them because of past memories? If so you
may find it hard to look ahead because a part of you is still
stuck in the past.
Learn to accept all your feelings, don't hide them away. It is
okay to feel angry, sad, jealous, and all the other emotions you
may think of as "bad." You can't look to the future unless you
acknowledge your feelings, feel them, and let them go.
Don't take yourself too seriously. Get in touch with your childish
playfulness and sense of wonder and optimism. Try out new
things, shout, laugh, and bring everything back into perspective.
Coffe should not be reheated. Every time you
brew a cup, it needs to be fresh. Make only as
much as you plan to drink.
Don't reharsh the past. You past is the reason,
not the excuse. Let go of what is gone.
::COFFEE BOX: THE METHOD::
The great pleasure of making coffee is that it is not complicated
as long as you stick to the same measurements. Whether you see
a jug, a cafetiere (French press), or a coffee sock, use the freshest
grounds and freshly run water that boiled five seconds ago.
Coffee should never touch boiling water and should never be
boiled again. Don't use hot milk unless you can steam-heat it in
an espresso machine-when you use heated milk, you risk tainting
the coffee with the taste of caramelized sugars. Better to store
your cups in a warm place to keep the warmth in the coffee.
Excerpted from Coffee Wisdom
by Theresa Cheung
Copyright © 2003 by Theresa Cheung.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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