It seems a little bit lame to make resolutions about coffee, but it also seems like cheating to have an active blog and not post a New Year’s entry. Here’s the least lame compromise I’ve got.
If you’re in the mood for a food resolution that doesn’t involve something traumatic like giving up carbs or going vegan, then try one (or more!) of these coffee resolutions.
1. Test a new kind of coffee. Always been a Folgers loyal? Give Maxwell House a shot. Does it actually taste different? Maybe even try them side by side; what makes you like one more than the other? Is your coffee preference rooted in familiarity or in a certain taste element? If you always go to Starbucks, try out that new place around the corner that has weird single origin pour overs and see if any of those are any good. Check out the Recommendations page for suggestions of interesting places to order whole bean coffee online and interesting places to go if you want to see coffee growing for yourself.
2. Drink black coffee. At a conference in Costa Rica this fall the head of the Norwegian Coffee Association noted that, in Scandinavia, to order “a latte or a coffee with milk is a thing of the 90s. Now the trendiest way to order is by origin or estate.” Even if you don’t get as fancy as asking for Aida Battle’s Kilimanjaro peaberry, you can still seize the new year as an opportunity to go beyond the frothy cappuccino of yore and explore what coffee tastes like all on its own.
3. Know something about your coffee. Investigate where it comes from. Ask questions like, “who grew this? Where? What variety is it? Who roasted it? Where?” Get curious. The answers might not be the easiest to find, but let 2014 be a year of adventure and inquiry.
Maybe you’re not the resolution type. Maybe you’re happy with the coffee you drink, the way you drink it, and what you know about it.
Maybe you like to be on the up-and-up of what’ll be next to be hot. Here’s the shortlist of coffee things to keep an eye on in 2014.
A Film About Coffee I’ve never met or even digitally spoken with director Brandon Loper, but it seems A Film About Coffee actually has a lot of parallels with When Coffee Speaks. Like me, at the start of his project Brandon knew nothing about coffee, was not a industry insider, and was candidly curious about the people, land and lives behind coffee. The film has a decidedly Specialty bent (while When Coffee Speaks gives equal love to Special people and those cranking out commodity coffee for the grocery trade machine), but it looks decidedly fascinating and, perhaps more importantly, very well done. Barista Magazine gave it their blessing, and it seems to have appeared at Sundance, so hopefully it will be available to the masses soon.
Connected by Coffee This film also appears to mesh nicely with When Coffee Speaks, but more in terms of the methodology. Two North American filmmakers travel from Mexico to Nicaragua (leaving off where When Coffee Speaks picks up!) and also look at coffee through a human-centric lens, but with more of a Fair Trade twinge. They also have respected, established coffee names in their corner, with Catholic Relief Services (doing some of the most meaningful coffee development work in the Americas- and Michael Sheridan’s infinitely insightful origin blog is back!) on board as a sponsor.
This Side Up Trade The commodity market, with its fluctuating prices and free market passion and supply and demand triggers and trigger happy speculation will probably always be there because a lot of influential people (and corporations acting as immortally influential people) have a vested interest in it being there. In situations where you’re working with thousands of metric tons (like supplying foodservice and grocery interests), the commodity market makes sense and does its job, even if it screws some people in the process. This Side Up Trade is part of a new generation of coffee trading companies that is operating outside of the commodity scheme, responding to the trend that people are doing coffee in smaller ways than ever before, wanting to buy, roast, and consume coffee in “micro” volumes as small as a sack or two. This Side Up and its fellow newbie Direct Trade importers aren’t about to rock the foundation of the coffee trade as we know it, but they are poised to make some interesting waves. Keep your eye on them. Advancements in technology and travel mean that we can do stuff in lots of different ways, not just the one that’s the oldest, biggest, and most established.
Be it resolved that 2014 will be a year filled with coffee, some that looks familiar and some that takes on all manner of less familiar forms.