Coffee on the Wall: Message from the Morning Man by Kojo Yankson


Coffee on the Wall: Message from the Morning Man
by Kojo Yankson

31st August 2015

The city of Venice is on my bucket list. It’s one of the places I really want to visit. Just the concept of an entire city on water is infinitely exciting to me. Any time friends of mine return from there, they bring such wonderful stories about the architecture, the art, the people…

Today, I’ll tell you the story that really made me fall head over heels in love with that magical city.

Just round the corner from ST Mark’s Basilica is a small café called Molto. After touring the Basilica, my coffee-addicted friend Jamie, who was on holiday with her sister, stopped at this café for some Italian Espresso. While they were sipping their drinks, a man in a business suit came up to the counter and made a strange order.

“Two black coffees please. One for the wall”. He said.

The sisters looked at each other quizzically, but the waiter nodded and made the man his order. He handed one black coffee to the well dressed customer, and wrote “Café Nero” (which is Black coffee in Italian) on a piece of paper and stuck it on the wall.

A few minutes later, two labourers in dirty clothes came in and ordered “Three cappuccinos please, one for the wall. Again, the waiter made their orders and stuck a paper with “Cappuccino” written across it onto the wall. At this point, the sisters were bursting with curiosity, but they didn’t have enough faith in the quality of their Italian to ask the waiter what the coffee-on-the-wall thing was all about.

But suddenly, something happened that made the whole thing crystal clear.

A man walked into the café. His clothes were tattered, his skin was streaked with dirt, and his body odour preceded him by a good five feet. It was clear this was a homeless person living on the streets of Venice.

He walked up to the counter and asked in slow, measured speech that even the sisters could understand, “May I have one coffee from the wall please?”

The waiter made the man a nice, piping hot cup of coffee and handed it to him with a smile. The man sat down in the corner of the shop and calmly sipped his blessing-in-a-cup, savouring what might perhaps be his only moment of dignity for that day, thanks to the kindness of someone he will never meet.

The sisters stared at him for a few seconds and then, without a word, got up and ordered ten cups of coffee for the wall.

My friends, aren’t we blessed? To have enough and a little change on top? But what is the point of blessings anyway? Why has God chosen us to receive this relatively good fortune? Is it because we deserve it? Is it because we made some deal with God and he owes us, so he’s paying us back in good luck?

Or perhaps there’s another reason why we’re so blessed. Perhaps blessings are meant to multiply. After all, what good is a blessing if only one person enjoys it? What good is a song if only one person hears it? What good is a painting if only one person sees it? Perhaps your blessing is not only the good things you have received, but also, the responsibility to bless others with those good things.

Today, I would like to challenge us all to find new ways of sharing our good wealth, our skills, our talents, our time, our beauty, our love, with as many other people as possible. God didn’t give us this light to hide it under a basket, so hold it high and let it shine, that others too might see.

My name is Kojo Yankson, and my order remains the same; two coffees please – one for the wall.