Matthew Piva is a barista and integral staff member at Sump Coffee. He approaches coffee with an air of tranquility and mindfulness, and we were very excited to speak with him about his first float and the ties he found between coffee and floating.
How long have you been working in coffee, and how has the industry changed since you began working in it?
I’ve been working in coffee over 6 years now. To me, there hasn’t been a major change in the industry since I started, in that there’s just been refinement of its current, 3rd wave state. The people who excite me in coffee are those who have a clear vision and do not compromise that vision. To me its more about people taking a stand in something they believe in. I’m not saying people shouldn’t change (because things always change), but that they should do what they believe in the moment and do it in their own style.
How does coffee impact the larger St. Louis community?
I believe people gather around coffee, which often leads to people discussing topics or problems, and sharing ideas or solutions to those problems. The more spaces there are to do that, the more positive impact coffee will have on St. Louis.
Tell me about your first floating experience.
I quickly found it quite easy to get comfortable. The first 10 minutes I focused just on my breathing, trying to calm my mind and not think too much. I eventually became so comfortable that I wasn’t sure if I was sleeping or in this meditative-like state. I kept slipping in and out: semiconscious. And before I knew it, the music followed by cleaning jets were waking me up. Afterwards, I felt relaxed and slept like a brick that night.
Working in coffee can be extremely stressful. How has floating impacted the way you work?
I find floating to be a relief to the mental and physical stress of being a barista. It’s more physical for me; the mental is just a bonus! The truck ton of epsom salt used really helps aid my body of the strain built up over the years. And relaxing my mind helps refresh my mental state so that I may be in the best state of mind while working.
What do floating and coffee have in common?
The only thing I can see in relation to the two is this moment of relaxation. I always enjoy seeing someone take a moment to pause and focus on what’s in front of them, whether it be a cup of coffee or the nothing (provided by the deprivation tanks). In those moments you find peace.