Cupping Notes: Chocolate, Syrupy, Cedar, with a hint of Spice
When I moved to Maui in 1981, my life took a turn, and I found myself involved with a community of others who had experienced God in a powerful manner. Many were from similar backgrounds as me: living life to the fullest and for themselves. We were all products of the same “If it feels good, then do it” and ”Why not?” culture of the 1970’s. Many who were searching for the meaning of life had discovered that a personal relationship with the Creator was the greatest high available. I did as well.
One of my new friends was Jason Spence, A.K.A. “Jake” who was born on Oahu, had migrated to California, and returned to Maui with his wife Toni and Craig & Kathy Englert to start Hope Chapel in 1980. Jake was a teacher and scholar who began to invite me to meet him at the local coffee store for discussions. I would often arrive to find Jake sitting with another friend, who would leave soon after I arrived. I began to notice that others would arrive as I was leaving. Finally it dawned on me that the coffee store was Jake’s office, and he was conducting his personal discipleship over cups of coffee.
Jake loved a good cup of coffee. He called it “Life Juice”. The smile on his face after a sip of a nice brew told the story: Heaven on Earth! When I became a coffee aficionado, our relationship really took off, and only accelerated when I began roasting coffee. I loved bringing him my latest favorite beans.
Jake was a reader, and had an extensive library. It was called the Kihei Christian Bookstore, a business he began to provide resources to guys like me. When I would return to Maui from my time in Honduras, Nicaragua, Florida, Israel, and elsewhere, he would give me his squinty-eyed look and say “Bagby, I got a book for you.” Usually his books were just what I needed. He seemed to know that, perhaps from all our discussions. The last book that he gave me before his untimely death on November 30, 2013 was one of his favorites: Explore The Book by J. Sidlow Baxter. It is on the shelf just to the right of me as I write this. Is was a very expensive book (over $80) that Jake gave to me as a “missionary gift”. It has been such a good gift and resource for me! I credit Jake with teaching me much of what helps guide my life, my own teaching, and my ability to personally disciple others- over a cup of good coffee. He did the same to countless others. Our world is greatly changed for the training, inspiration, and friendship that Jake gave to many of us.
Jake also traveled extensively to Europe, Brazil, and other places where he would spend time doing what he loved best: Teaching the Bible. We travelled together to Israel in 1999, and to Italy, Greece, and Turkey in 2008. On those trips, Jake and I were always looking for the next good cup of java.
Once when he was traveling by train through Germany with his wife Toni, the train made a stop in a city. Since it appeared that the was going to be a lengthy stop, Jake stepped off the train and went into the terminal to look for that next good cup of java. While he was inside, the train suddenly left the station. Toni suddenly realized that Jake was not onboard the train. She also realized that Jake did not have the phone number of the friend that they were staying with that night in the city down the line.
Jake returned to the landing, surprised to discover the train was no longer there, and he realized that not only he did not know what their actual destination was, he did not have the contact information for their host, nor did he have his tickets or passport! This was the days before cellphones. What a conundrum! Toni did not know what to do. Get off at the next stop and go back to find Jason, perhaps discovering that he had boarded another train? What a situation!
Fortunately, Jake eventually did call a mutual friend in Germany who knew the other friend. Toni also called this same friend, and was relieved to discover that Jason had called. After a few more phone calls, they made a plan, and Jake arrived five hours later. When he told me his side of this incredible story, I asked if it was a good cup. “The best, Bagby.” Jake always had a sense of priorities!
Java Jake combines our Pacific coffees Sumatra Rain, Timor White Star, and Papua New Guinea, for a very pleasant, complex, deep flavored, full bodied, and very invigorating, brew, just like its namesake, the Pacific local boy, Jason Spence.