I guess I have grown up. Nearly 20 years ago I was told when I grew up I would drink coffee. I grew up around coffee so it was not a lack of exposure. I took a sip here and there but the bitterness did not work for me. Caffeine was not the problem. I preferred mine cold and sweet. Sometimes I wondered if it were the residual grounds present at the bottom of the cup using older model coffee “percolators.” The advent of automatic drip with the finer filters did not entice me so I gave up on that idea.

Whatever the case, I guess I have grown up. That’s right, this past week I followed the maxim, “When in Spain do as the Spaniards.” Yes that was an adaptation for those who learned it, “When in Rome … .” Every day I found an occasion to enjoy a “cafe con leche.” Mix in a little sugar and I could have had several cups a day – and did.

What drove the decision? Spending a few days with people given to giving up their own cultural connections to incarnate Jesus in another culture spurred my imagination. We often think of hospitality in terms of how we welcome others. Sometimes hospitality turns on the way in which we respond to those who invite us in.

I recall a trip to Burma a number of years ago. We sat down for an evening meal. Our hosts were wonderful people. They set a meal before us that included “chicken.” I love fried chicken. Not one piece looked vaguely familiar to the “pieces” I had grown up enjoying. We took in a very good meal but could have easily offended our hosts by suggesting we would not even try what lie on the plate.

We entered a cafe in Barcelona. It would have been easy ordering a “coke light” and continuing to shun coffee. However, it seemed right to do what the vast majority do when sharing time together in this great city. With a cafe on nearly every corner – I think it was my brother to referred to Barcelona as one large shopping center – it seemed most everyone connected with others over a cup of coffee. Were we to share time with people from Barcelona it seemed coffee should not be a barrier. Whether or not this new habit will continue remains to be seen. But, when in Spain it just seemed right to enjoy the coffee as the locals did.

Hospitality works both directions. Hoping to expose people to an hospitable God may well be communicated in how well we respond to the hospitality of others.

About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.

5 comments on “Cafe con Leche … When In Barcelona

  1. stepchild says:

    I’m proud of you for drinking coffee!

    I think a lot of people fail to see how coffee is important for the conversation. We’re always looking for ways to minimize the differences between us and the people to whom we are ministering. In Western Europe, that often involves stepping out of our comfort zones; hanging out in smoke-filled bars, talking about unfamiliar topics, or drinking coffee even if we’re not coffee fans.


  2. Todd Littleton says:


    I agree with you. Here in the States we minimize the importance of the “meal.” I hope we keep learning from you and others.

    Andrew Jones suggests we throw parties and tell stories. Throwing parties would be enjoying the cafe and telling stories would be making those moves to minimize the differences so we may open up as real people to real people with the Good News. Not seeing them as projects but as people.

    But, you know this stuff.


  3. charlie says:

    Todd, I think you bring about several good points. It is well known in business circles that major deals both political and financial are made over a “meal”. Why this seems so simple is beyond me, but you bring out the point that we are sharing with one another. Even if you do not have a commonality amoung you, you can still share the moment and learn from one another.

    So are you saying you will no longer be ordering white chocolate mochas??

    Friday night I ventured out and ordered a straight capacino w/o anything else added for flavor. To my surprise I enjoyed it, much to my wifes chiding that it tastes gross…

    I look forward to hearing more of your trip as well as a slide show of your sights.

  4. Three cheers for your mission-minded decision to receive Spanish hospitality! Thanks for sharing. What I want to know is just how wired you were after spending days drinking cafe con leche…

  5. Todd Littleton says:

    Let’s just say I am not sure the change in times zones had as much effect as one might think! 🙂

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