The Small World of Intelligentsia

I work for a really amazing Chicago coffee company called Intelligentsia. Intelligentsia puts so much time and resources into sourcing the sweetest and most complex coffee in the world, roasting it to bring out its best natural qualities, and educating their staff to prepare that coffee with the utmost care and precision. I started working for them right after I graduated last December, and have loved every minute of it. I’ve grown exponentially in my skills as a barista, have developed amazing friendships with coworkers, and love being able to serve people through a fantastic cup of coffee.

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Intelligentsia is a name that will be familiar to coffee enthusiasts around the world. Because of this, I’ve gotten to meet a wide array of interesting people, all the way from Italy (the homeland of espresso) or Japan (where “pour-over” coffee has its roots). But although I’ve made coffee for Barista Champions and famous musicians, the best moments are when an old friend walks through your doors.

Most recently, Brad Nickerson moved into an apartment right around the corner from my shop. Brad and I grew up as missionary kids together in Europe, but now it’s quite common for him to be drinking a “Black Cat Shake” in our shop on a Saturday afternoon. (Brad is in the Toronto Maple Leafs cap in this picture from 2005!)

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Two weeks ago I was startled by a perceptive question by a guest: “Are you a Patty??” This guest was Joshua Longbrake, a photographer who did some work for JV a couple years ago. Josh also held a photography workshop for us teenagers at a Josiah Venture conference back in 2007 (Josh is in the white in the picture below). I hadn’t seen him since then! He and his wife had recently moved to the Logan Square neighborhood as well.

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But the craziest story is from this last Sunday. Sundays are generally our busiest days at work, so I was running around getting things done, and was pretty distracted. All the sudden someone leans over the bar and yells at me: “Hey!” I turn to deal with the crisis, and lo and behold, Kha Do is there smiling at me. Only one problem: Kha is from Arizona, and now lives in Louisville. There’s no way that is Kha. I stare dumbfounded at him for a few seconds, only to start freaking out from the absurdity of the situation. Kha has served with Josiah Venture a number of times doing English Camps in Czech, and that’s how I first met him back in 2010. His new bride, Melanie, served with Lara and I in Czech last summer, and a funny story about Kha was told and re-told dozens of times over the course of those months, achieving the status of legend. And here was the legend, standing right here in my coffee shop!

Turns out he was passing through Chicago on his way from a wedding, and only stopped in Intelligentsia to charge his phone. When he saw me, he texted his wife Melanie: “I think I’m looking at Tyler Patty…” to which she responded, “No, that’s not possible. There’s no way.” We were both glad it was!

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The world feels very small – especially at Intelligentsia!

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Weekend Classes and Fresh Air

This week has been busy for Lara and I. Friday was a good example — I said goodbye to Lara at 4:30 AM to leave for work, and didn’t see her till I got back from an evening class at 9:30 PM.

But we are making the most of it. Once a month I have this weekend class on Christian Ethics, so today my whole Saturday was spent in a classroom. Luckily it is spent with some good friends who are taking it with me, and the things we are discussing are super important. But after being inside for 7 hours listening to a lecture, all I wanted to do was get out and enjoy these final beautifully mild Illinois days.

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When I rolled up into our driveway after class, I noticed a beautiful apple lying by the side of the road. It had fallen off our neighbor’s tree. I couldn’t just leave it there to go to waste! It was still in perfect condition, so I snapped some pictures, gave it a good wash, and ate away. We had taken my sister Claire to an apple orchard a couple weeks ago, but this definitely brought back memories from Czech, where you don’t have to pay to pick apples from an orchard — you just visit your cottage in the countryside!

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As I ate my apple I walked to Highland Park to meet Lara as she got off from work. We went and got some nachos from a local Mexican restaurant, and then spent some much-needed time soaking in the brisk Fall air. It’s about a 30 minute walk back to our house, and although Lara walks the route every day to work, I think she enjoys it the most when we are together! We are truly loving where we live, and are thankful for moments like these to reconnect after a long week.

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Thinking of My Grandparents

Although I grew up half-way across the world, my grandparents have played a very important role in my life.

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I never could just run across the street to visit them, but they always made it a priority to fly across the ocean to visit us! One of my fondest childhood memories was getting to have both my mom’s parents and my dad’s parents present in Czech at my baptism at age 15. It is quite extraordinary that despite growing up on the other side of the world, my grandparents have been a part of some very important growth points in my life.

Another such moment was when I was 16. Grandma and Bapa (my mom’s parents) knew that I really liked this band called Switchfoot, and they decided to fly my out to Oregon to see them play live. It was my first time traveling on my own, and ended up being an incredibly formative experience. Having your grandparents take you to a rock show is pretty awesome (!), but even more awesome was their love and intentionality toward a maturing teenager.

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At age 19 while I was a student at Moody, Grandpa and Nana (my dad’s parents) invited me to come spend my two-week Spring Break with them in Colorado. We ate many incredible meals thanks to grandma’s cooking. My grandpa is an incredible gardener, and I got to help him shovel manure and plant potatoes. But the big transformative experience was having grandpa teach me how to drive on his manual VW Jetta. I passed the test and received my driving license, and have been changed ever since through this learning experience with grandpa.

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I’ve been thinking of Grandpa Patty much in the recent days. He just went through open heart surgery — the same surgery my dad had four years ago. A problem with his mitral valve has left him with very little energy due to restricted blood flow to his heart. Other than this, he is a healthy and active 88 year-old, still maintaining his garden and discipling men! I saw him recently at our Patty family reunion last December, and he continues to be such an engaged and caring man of God. His story is far from over yet.

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The surgery went incredibly well. But now the very difficult work of recovery has begun. He will likely be in a lot of pain over the coming days as his body re-calibrates (this was true of my dad as well). He is stable in the ICU, and they are hoping to have him sitting up in a chair tomorrow morning.

Lara and I have been praying for grandpa, and it is times like these that I am reminded of how amazing my grandparents are. They have left a permanent mark on my life—directly by their investment in my life, and indirectly by their life of faithfulness to Christ—and I do not take this for granted. They continue to leave a mark, even as my 88 year-old grandpa voluntarily goes through this surgery, desiring to continue living boldly for Jesus.

A Date and a Bike Ride

First of all, THANK YOU to everyone who has been praying for Lara. Her migraines have been better, but is still experiencing the floaters. We are hoping to see a doctor up nearer to us in the next couple days. Thank you for standing with us in this!

With all the transitions that have been happening recently, Lara and I really needed time together to just let loose and have some fun. The weather made a sharp turn toward winter today (40ºF!) , but just a couple days ago it was absolutely beautiful in Highland Park. Lara had the day off, and while I had to work early that morning, I was off in time for a late lunch. We decided to make it a date!

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Some dear friends of ours welcomed us to the neighborhood by giving Lara a bike, so we got to test it out for the first time. We rode along quaint streets and charming forest paths, until we finally made it to downtown Highland Park.

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(the forest paths reminded me a lot of Czech!)

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Lara had heard raving reviews from her coworkers about a local hot dog stand called Michael’s, so we had to check it out.

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After lunch we walked around town, just as the elementary schools were letting out for the day. You never saw kids in the city much, at least not where we lived. We are really enjoying living in a small town!

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Once back on our bikes, I noticed a sign for a bike path to the beach, so of course we had to take it. After several wrong turns and lots of laughs, we made it to Lake Michigan.

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It was the perfect day, and just what we needed!