We are living in a golden age of coffee information. Everywhere you turn these days, there is serious, interesting thinking about coffee happening, and best of all, a lot of it is finding its way out into the public. Sure, some people may bemoan the decline of forum-warrior style exchanges of old, but with things like this year’s SCAA Symposium speeches starting to trickle out on YouTube, the recent release of the Longberry coffee journal, and more new professional coffee events like Edible Manhattan’s Coffee Summit, coffee knowledge is entering a brave new world. That evolution also includes a whole range of new perspectives being shared from all corners, including a number of noteworthy new podcasts from Tom Owen of Sweet Maria’s, Bjørg Brend Laird of Supersonic, and the latest episode of Renee Gross’ latest episode of The Feminist Fork.
Tom Owen travels the world buying green coffee for Sweet Maria’s, the pioneering home- and micro-roaster green coffee supplier that he co-founded in 1997. His podcast is now up to six episodes, and is available for free via iTunes and on the Sweet Maria’s blog. The first episode, released in February, starts by dispelling some of the misconceptions people have about the “direct trade” model, like how much contact with actual farmers involved, or whether he is “carrying back sacks of coffee in his bags.” This refreshing, on the ground perspective runs through all the episodes, like the second episode on pronouncing Amharic coffee names like Chelelektu and Yirgacheffe according to native speakers, or the recent episode on talking about tasting coffee, which includes the following nugget: “Explaining that coffee reminds you of an obscure childhood food memory probably isn’t doing a great service of helping someone else understand what’s in that coffee.”
Bjørg Brend Laird made her mark in coffee working for Cafe Europa, where she was instrumental in organizing the Nordic Barista Cup, and she is now a co-founder of Supersonic Coffee, an ambitious new roasting and retail project in the Bay Area. In her new podcast, Coffee Awesome, she leverages her access and background in journalism to highlight interesting voices in the industry. The first episode features Rachel Peterson, director of marketing and sales for the renowned Hacienda La Esmeralda in Panama, talking about the history of the farms, how the planting of the world-famous “geisha” variety was a happy accident of fungus tolerance, their recent experiments with natural processing, and more. You can find this and future episode of the podcast on the Coffee Awesome website here.
The last podcast comes from Renee Gross over at The Feminist Fork–Gross is a recent Women’s Studies graduate from the University of Michigan and produces stories for the Michigan Radio NPR affiliate. The Feminist Fork examines social issues around food and drink from a Feminist/Queer perspective, and the recent episode “A cup of one’s own: Coffee shops as queer spaces” brings together an eclectic set of perspectives on what makes the coffee shop such a productive and welcome space for queer people. Full disclosure: I am briefly quoted in the piece. 2014 Sprudgie Award-Winner Lisa Knisely is also quoted, alongside baristas, regular customers, and all sorts of coffee-appreciating folk. I’m a big fan of applying feminist thinking to social issues around coffee, and this episode of The Feminist Fork shows the exciting range of perspectives on the spaces coffee builds that can result.
Truly, an exciting time to be thinking about coffee, whether you’re recording it for posterity or downloading it to listen during your morning treadmill routine.