About the Book


By: Tim Stiffler-Dean

Barista, Developer, Author

It all started with a cup of coffee….

I first realized the potential coffee had as a powerful tool for changing lives about a year after I got kicked out of my house.

With all of my friends and people I’d called “family” behind me in my childhood hometown of Detroit, MI, I found myself often fighting to find my identity on my own, without much of a safety net to fall back onto.

The reason I was on my own, of course, is an integral part of the story as well: One that weaves through a myriad of foster families, physical and emotional abuse, broken homes, corrupt legal systems, and the sociopathy that comes with being a typical teenager. My adopted mother didn’t take too kindly to the depression and acting-out caused by my lack of identity and restraint, so a few short months after my first suicide attempt, she kicked me out, and I found myself heading to Dayton, OH.

Dayton is not where the story begins, and it certainly is not the end, but it is here that I can begin to tell you about my reason for writing the book, as it is here that I first found coffee as a passion.

In a little coffee shop in the middle of the city, I found my first great friend.

Brian and his dad were the first people outside of my biological family who would show me the selflessness I needed to stay alive, and they did it with an incredibly simple act of kindness.

After Brian and I left our classes together at the local Community College, he and his dad invited me for a cup of coffee. It was at Boston Stoker Coffee Roasters on 2nd Street in Dayton, OH that I first tasted the delicious caramel, maple, and rum notes of their Highlander Grogg flavored coffee.

I fell in love.

Through that early sign of acceptance from this family, I was welcomed as a friend and confidant. Where I was, for so long, alone and feeling forgotten, I suddenly felt the craters in my heart and mind being filled with love and kindness. When Brian invited me to his birthday party a few months later, I got to meet the rest of his family and welcomed into the inner circles of his friend groups. I wasn’t bullied or harassed or made an outcast. It was as if I’d been a part of the gang for years.

I would be forgetting an incredibly important part of that night if I didn’t mention one other person that I met there.

Brian’s sister, Leah, stood out amongst the crowd of friends and family members all celebrating. I couldn’t keep my thoughts or gaze off of her. My first thought on seeing her was, “How crazy would it be if I became Brian’s brother-in-law?”

I fell in love.

Ten years later, Leah and I are engaged to be married. I am a different man today, indeed I am alive today and thriving, because I was shown a simple act of kindness in that first cup of coffee bought for me.

Believe it or not, my story is not all that unique. There are thousands of people out there who have had their lives similarly transformed with a cup of coffee in their hands. I, myself, have many other experiences like that one which have all worked together to make me the man that I am today, and I have met many people who can attest to the same for themselves.

This book is a look into the lives of people whom I have personally met and gotten to know over the years, and hopes to show that even if we individually don’t have the power to save the world from all of it’s dangers, we do all have the power to save an individual from some of the dangers presented to their mind, their heart, and their circumstances.

This is what I mean when I say coffee changed my life,

“I Fell In Love.”

Funny thing is, this was never just about the coffee.

Coffee is a great drink. It has been at the beginning and end of empires and governments. It has spurred economies and encouraged slave trades. It has been banned by religious leaders and smuggled across borders. It drives us as a species, and has influenced cultures far and wide with various ceremonies, traditions, and practices. It is, without a doubt, one of the most important beverages in the history of mankind.

But it is not so important simply because it exists. It is important because of what we have done with it. It is important because of what we do with it every single day.

That is what this book is about: Not just the recipes, countries of origin, and latte art photographs, but the people and communities that have been built up around coffee shops and houses around the world. How is coffee a part of their lives? How has it shaped them? How has it made them act towards a friend, or a stranger?

If it was just about the coffee, this would still be an interesting book. It’s more than that, though. It’s about the people that unite with us on the common ground that is this black gold. All languages, cultures, economies, and ideologies aside, coffee brings us together on common ground. The stories told on that ground are far more interesting than anything else that can be written about the simple brown bean.

This is my story. These are our stories. Let’s learn from the experiences that come with sharing a cup of coffee with another person, and brew the way to a better world.

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