No, really, this is actually happening: Todd Carmichael is getting his own TV show. It’s called “Coffee Hunter”, and it’s been confirmed by the Travel Channel for their summer line-up of programming. The details-adverse folks at Philly Eater have a Q&A with Todd:
Where are some of the other places you’re shooting episodes for Coffee Hunter?
Angola, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Madagascar. We’re headed to re-emerging places that in a lot of cases the world forgot about. It’s funny, people are always on the hunt for buried treasure, and in my opinion when you’re looking for that, you need to go where no one else is looking. We’re working on Cuba, too, which is my real goal. We have to figure out a way to get there and establish trade without getting arrested (laughs). But, really, Cuba is a goal for us in terms of coffee at La Colombe and for the show.
What do you think will be the most surprising aspect of the show for viewers?
Beans aren’t grown at chateaus in wealthy areas. There aren’t these beautiful vineyards full of beans growing all over, usually they’re grown by farmers who also have yams, potatoes, and peas in the same rows of soil. Sure, you can go to developed areas like Costa Rica and see it in a different light, but in reality, most of our beanage comes from places like Haiti. It’s going to surprise people to see that, I think. People group wine and coffee together in terms of enthusiasm and those who are passionate about it, as well as knowing good quality product. But, we save the meat of a grape to make wine, and we save the seed of the coffee plant to make coffee. It’s a different beast. And that’s almost a metaphor for the different cultures surrounding wine and coffee production.
We’ll hold off on the op-ed until we actually see “Coffee Hunter”, but we hope The Travel Channel knows the very real responsibility they’ve taken on by developing this program. We wish we’d seen someone from the Travel Channel – or Todd Carmichael, for that matter – at last week’s SCAA Symposium, an event where serious issues of global coffee commerce were discussed and dissected in a non-sexy way. We hope the producers who green-lit Todd’s program took a moment to verse themselves in his subject matter, by reading books like “Uncommon Grounds“, “God In A Cup“, or Jean Nicolas Wintgens’ “Coffee: Growing, Processing, Sustainable Production“. And last, we all-but expect that the folks at the Travel Channel took the very real culture of coffee buying and cultivation seriously enough to consult about their new TV show with outside experts, i.e., people who are not Todd Carmichael.
The idea that you can just plunk someone down somewhere – Myanmar, Madagascar, the Moon – and simply “find” coffee is more than just stupid; it’s ignorant, deeply ignorant, and if this is how they portray green buying on their show, they will be misinforming millions of Americans. Let’s all hold our breaths, shall we?