The Bean, the Brew and the Buzz: A Twitter Creative Writing Experiment.

Here’s #004 in the wild (explanation in post):

A few months ago, after getting a feel for Twitter, I wanted to see what I could do with it as a writer. I began tweeting a story. I am still in the middle of what I’ve tentatively named, “The Bean, the Brew and the Buzz.” Here are the informal rules I follow:

  • I try not to compose each tweet until I’m sitting in front of the computer or wielding my phone. (though I may entertain ideas and do some fuzzy plotting beforehand)
  • I compose my tweets in a twitter client (laptop or phone) or web page, and not in a word processor or text editor.
  • I try to avoid studying my earlier tweets, though I do refresh my memory by reading quickly through them on occasion.
  • I include the numbering system and the #JCafe hashtag as ways to identify story tweets and to help readers to tie them together.

It would be easy to write an entire story first, and then send it out daily in discreet twitter-sized chunks. I want to avoid this, and to explore how the medium can impact the process of telling the story. My main challenge (other than being consistent) iss to infuse each tweet with enough meaning or value to stand alone while still tying them all together in a narrative.

Some of the limits are technological. Intuitively, you should be able to search on a hashtag and pull up every incidence of a term, but twitter’s search tool retrieves no more than the last several weeks worth (even though the company stores every tweet we’ve ever tweeted).

For this reason, I’m going to start posting an occasional archive of my #JCafe tweets. They’re not intended to be read back to back this way (the inconsistencies become immediately apparent!), but I have to provide some means for people to who start following in the middle to catch up and for others to refresh and reread.

Enough of my rambling–here are the story tweets:

001: So, there’s this barista who looks totally like Jesus: olive skin, big nose, long hair & beard. And His brews are always divine. #JCafe 10:38 AM Apr 4th from web

002: Turns out his name really is Jesus. Heysoos. Means the same thing in Spanish. Why do anglophones have a problem with the divine? #JCafe 10:40 AM Apr 4th from web

003: I heard he spent years learning the way of the bean in Ethiopia, Indonesia and Guatemala, picking red cherries with the locals. #JCafe 8:58 AM Apr 8th from web

004: The first time, he tried to preach love. 2000 years later, he just wanted to make coffee. He was doomed by his perfectionism. #jcafe 7:02 PM Apr 21st from TwitterFon

005: GalacticWiki, year 4031: The origin of the benediction, “In the name of the Bean, the Brew & the Buzz” is lost in Web antiquity. #jcafe 7:31 PM Apr 22nd from TwitterFon

006: Jesus’ brother JC was also into coffee. He made a killing w/his Kingdom Koffee chain, building cafes in megachurch lobbies. #jcafe 7:10 PM Apr 23rd from TwitterFon

007: Kingdom Koffee: a sermon on every sack, a scripture on every cup, the Spirit in every hot sip–at least according to Marketing. #jcafe 7:35 PM Apr 24th from Tweetree

008: It was the multi-level scheme that turned JC’s chain into empire: pastors preached Koffee & Christ, missionaries hawked coupons. #jcafe 7:03 PM Apr 27th from web

009: While JC spread his franchise throughout the land, his brother, Jesus Sanchez, quietly opened up a cafe next to a pawn shop. #jcafe 7:47 PM Apr 28th from Tweetree

010: The first time JC stopped by, he laughed out loud. The second time, he offered to buy the place but left, swearing. #jcafe 8:31 PM Apr 30th from web

011: Jesus would be the first to admit that he wasn’t good at ‘this capitalism thing.’ I mean, that’s why he signed me on, after all. #jcafe 9:04 PM May 1st from web

012: I got the business loan for him (we were ‘revitalizing the urban center’) but almost left when he refused to charge our clients. #jcafe 7:10 PM May 4th from TwitterFon

013: He asked folks to pay only what they thought their cup was worth, or what they could afford. Some did dishes for their AM brew. #jcafe 8:34 PM May 5th from Tweetree

014: After a week of stuffed donation boxes and an organic baker offering to swap pastries for coffee, I decided to stick around. #jcafe 7:22 PM May 6th from web

015: It got so busy that Jesus chose to train some homeless clients & bring them on. He was generous, but I liked the cheap labor. #jcafe 6:50 PM May 7th from TweetDeck

016: GalacticWiki, Year 4031: Scholars speculate that the origins of the Barista class go back to the Brahmin of old India on Earth. #jcafe 8:19 PM May 11th from Tweetree

017: GWiki, Year 4031: The Schism of 2480 began over the priority of arabica v. robusto beans but lead to heretical genetic variants. #jcafe 7:57 PM May 20th from TweetDeck

018: As crazy as it sounds, we were making bank. Jesus had tapped into some kind of coffee-loving, charity niche demographic. #jcafe about 5 hours ago from web

To be continued…stay tuned via my twitter feed!


  1. I WONDERED what these were. I kind of like random tweets and random conversation, so I never really tried to put it together as I often randomly tweet a bit of a story or song I’ve got in my head. This is so fun John!

  2. ECS

    I love this idea! I noticed some of these Jesus Coffee tweets on your FB status updates and thought they were clever – especially the one where Jesus is doomed by his perfectionism. Ha!

    I was going to make a joke about how your twitter writing project is the reverse of Dickens because Dickens was paid by the word and you’re limited to only 140 characters. According to wikiansers, however, the Dickens story is a myth. Still – this is a fun project! Looking forward to reading more.

  3. Bob

    Coffee is coffee…but the mug…(Here’s a lift to you.)
    I have my year supply of it…does that count?

  4. awesome.
    as a lazy low-tech neophyte twitter user, let me express my deep appreciation for this handy all at once (user friendly) assemblage of your story tweets.
    LOVE IT.
    (and was very tantalized every time I was lucky enough to catch one in my feed)

    [dude… CAPTCHA hates me.]

  5. I really like the idea of this—especially in light of the constraints that you’ve placed upon yourself. It reminds me of Danielewski: very pomo, very exploring new media. I just ran across (and haven’t the link for) a “blog” that is written as the diary of Jonathan Harker. It’s being posted in real-time, so what gets posted in May (2009) is what happened in May in Dracula. Again, an interesting exploration of new media, even if it is simply a retelling of a well-known story.

  6. That’s a cool writing technique, especially that you are writing it in pieces rather than simply posting it in pieces. I might try that sometime.

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