A primal wail rose up across the specialty coffee Twittersphere today, as New York Times T Magazine contributor and Sprudgie Award winner Oliver Strand announced that the latest T Magazine “Ristretto” column would be his last.
Ristretto first appeared on January 22, 2010 with a feature on the trend of manual pour overs popping up in New York City. The byline stated:
In Ristretto, Oliver Strand, the curator of the Times Topics coffee page, explores the world of coffee gadgets, coffee beans and why it’s never been easier to get a perfect shot of espresso.
Strand went on to pen around sixty features in the last two years for Ristretto, covering topics like restaurant coffee, worldwide coffee culture, and perhaps most famously asking why Paris coffee is so bad (he later went on to cover the young and vibrant Paris coffee scene a year later).
Sprudge.com spoke to Mr. Strand this afternoon, and he told us the following:
Let me stress that I’m still writing about coffee, and still writing for the New York Times, including the Dining Section, the Magazine and T – that’s not going to change. Also, I’m finishing my book, which will be published by HarperCollins next year. But Ristretto won’t be on the Moment in 2013.
I loved the column because it gave me so much freedom. The topics could be geeky or broad, the scope was global and the format could be anything from a conventional column to a product review to a Q+A to a slide show. I could post a map to the best coffee in Oslo, or a slide show of Sightglass Coffee in San Francisco, or get into why everybody should please, please buy a grinder. It didn’t hurt that the Moment is a great-looking site with a strong viewership.
The response on Twitter has been stunning in both volume and tone. Luminaries like Blue Bottle Coffee’s James Freeman offered their condolences, as did Coffee Geek founder Mark Prince, Ecco founder and enterprising Bay Area coffee expert Andrew Barnett, and Tim Varney, of Oslo’s Tim Wendelboe. Others humbly offered to fill the void left by Mr. Strand, or managed to score interviews with the journalist that ran moments before this one.
One thing is for certain: Strand isn’t done with the industry, or the Times, or even the T Magazine blog that hosted Ristretto. You’ll be given plenty more opportunities to read his work in 2013. Don’t go submitting your resume to Jill Abramson just yet.