I love coffee – Arabica coffee beans, which comprise about 75% of the total world production, are the most famous, sometimes called “super-coffee” and grown in Central and South America. The coffee is grown at high altitudes in volcanic soil – the same giving the beans their brightness and sweetness. The taste of the coffee beans varies from light-bodied coffees in Central America to heavy-bodied coffees in South America. Arabica coffee is also grown in East Africa, mostly on the slopes of the continent’s highest mountains to escape the intense heat of the African sun. Taste and character vary widely, but generally citrus and berry flavours are associated with this region.

In my quest to find top coffees, I came across Legado Coffee Roasters in Stellenbosch, South Africa – a company which sources its beans from all over the world, then micro-roasts the selected beans to ensure and enhance their inherent goodness. I was fascinated when I read on the back of their Espresso Blend packaging the following: “Perfection – that flawless, evasive creature. Unseen, perhaps. Unimaginable, no. We believe it’s out there. And so we pursue it, its call draws us closer. It leaves clues, each new discovery evidence of something bigger than we originally thought, bigger than we can grasp. So then, what’s the point of our endeavours? Perfection? No, fellow journeyman, the point is the pursuit” (Legado Coffee Roasters).

I am impressed with the three young men that love their coffee, experiment with blending and have fun with their coffee company. Not satisfied with just making good coffee, their thrill comes from the pursuit of perfection. The results are telling – their brand is growing and people are starting to sense their passion behind the aroma and taste.

Shunning mediocrity and reaching for standards of excellence require stretch – giving up small ambitions and pursuing the path of perfection. Excellence speaks to a quality which is unusually good and so surpasses ordinary standards. The same is only achieved through persistence in practice – most studies suggest ten years of dedication, comprising about 10 000 hours of effort. It seems that there is no easy “fix” or short cut to greatness, but hard work is necessary, coupled with appropriate focus and ambition.

Pursuing excellence in your chosen profession requires the passion, determination and resilience of a professional athlete. The ancient Greeks had the concept of arête, which meant “outstanding fitness for a purpose”. Excellence not only fulfils the purpose of setting you apart from the rest and thus giving you the edge over any competition, but also enables a sense of fulfilment and the knowledge of a life well-lived.

Over the next cup of coffee (make sure it’s really good), consider the personal stretch that you need to get to the top of your chosen profession.

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