I’ve been sent this video by roughly 20 people and it’s been making rounds on the internet so hard that even Gizmodo has posted it. The video is interesting, and though not necessarily incorrect, I find it really annoying. Describing it as “everything you need to know about coffee in less than five minutes,” while only spending 8 seconds on the actual process from crop to cup, overlooks all of the work it actually takes to produce coffee. The rest of the video is little more than a 4-minute ramble about the effects of caffeine. There’s far more to coffee than caffeine. If that’s the only reason you drink it, you’re missing out on so much more. Just sayin.Tweet Follow @DCILY
Last fall, two friends embarked on a cross-country road trip to experience and capture Canada’s independent coffee culture. What resulted was a 20 episode series called Common Ground TV that highlights the many different places, personalities, and perspectives within the Canadian coffee scene.
I know very little about Canadian coffee aside from the names of a few roasters and a couple baristas I met during Coffee Common, so I’ve learned a lot during the first six episodes. The 10-minute episodes have featured everything from interviews with coffee notables like Zane Kelsall and Sevan Istanboulian—to a trip to the Canadian Barista Championship. There’s also a bit of cultural insight and good clean fun along the way.
The two hosts, Nik and Edan, spoke with DCILY about their project, what they learned during their journey, and what the future holds.
What spurred you to make this trip? Have you always been so enthusiastic about coffee?
NIK: Ever since about 16, I’ve had an addiction to coffee. I’ve always had a decent surface knowledge of what makes a good cup. After being a barista on and off for about 15 years, I found the culture to be very interesting as far as the characters you meet across an espresso machine. People never set out to be baristas, they’re always led there and often times down some colorful paths. Those are the stories that we have been capturing. Ex-engineers, athletes—you name it—they’re often very eccentric and intense folks.
EDAN: When I was in high school, a cafe opened in Grand Forks called ‘River City’; they made really good coffee, and I started to appreciate the differences between gas station swill and proper espresso. When Nik opened his cafe, I got a chance to learn the finer nuances of pulling a good shot of espresso and how to steam milk properly. From there, Nik and I wanted to create a guide to the best coffee in BC, but I ended up doing my masters in architecture, and Nik got busy with film school, and we took a few years away from the project. Last year, we finally decided to stop talking about it and do it, and that idea ultimately turned into this film project.
What was the most enlightening thing you learned about coffee on the trip? Has it changed your perception of coffee since learning it?
EDAN: We started the trip as reasonably well informed coffee drinkers, but we soon learned that there is just so much more going on behind the scenes when it comes to getting the most out of green coffee beans. Sevan Istanboulian of Cafe Mystique showed us a lot: from the temperature and humidity the beans are kept at during transport to the roaster, to the exact conditions of roasting, to blending—before a barista ever has a chance to grind, tamp and extract a shot, there is a tremendous amount that goes into ensuring the roasted beans are absolutely the best they can be.
NIK: Personally, I learned, or at least reinforced my belief that the scenario affects the cup. As much science, heart and energy obviously dictates the flavour, taste, profile, etc—the scenario really is what rounds out the experience. We visited cafes that weren’t as highly regarded as others but the staff and locations would be so nice that they would supplement the overall enjoyment. Counter to that we visited a couple of the countries highest regarded and found people to be arrogant and unwelcoming thereby ruining the experience.
I’ve always dreamt of doing something like this in the US, do you plan on taking your crew abroad anytime soon?
NIK: We are currently prepping both Series Two on the West Coast of the USA and we’re shooting Series Three in Europe shortly there after.
EDAN: The US West coast is extremely appealing right now, and we are starting work on establishing connections to cafe’s and roasters from Seattle to San Francisco, and we are hoping for a summer launch. Europe, we hope, will happen in the fall.
What’s the connection between Global Authority and CGTV?
EDAN: The notion of ‘Global Authority’ was a tongue-in-cheek response Nik and I had while driving around BC a few years ago in the midst of a highly opinionated caffeine-fueled rant. It morphed into a proper company in 2010 in order to give ‘Common Grounds TV’ a proper business foundation, and Nik and I remain the primary members.
NIK: We have found great success across numerous intertwined industries including photography, film-making, reporting, small business and architecture. Global Authority is the umbrella under which we operate and explore avenues that interest us. We recruit also, if we feel we aren’t as good as we can be in an area, we refer and outsource work to driven creative types. We have a network of incredible sound techs, sound designers, graphic designers and marketers. Our biggest thing is that we work with nice, driven creative people. Life’s too short to work with awful people and by varying our interests we’re never stuck in a position of dealing with unsavory folks for extended periods. When you drink this much caffeine, outside aggravation has to be kept to a minimum.
You have a couple big sponsors, including Krups, how did that relationship form and what role did they play in the project?
NIK: They’re certainly the biggest name we’re associated with and their sponsorship made the logistics that much more possible. We certainly don’t reap a wage from Series One but being able to cover gas and hotels to minimize our personal outlay is a godsend and we couldn’t have done it without them. They certainly took a chance on us but we feel we are able to reach their target demographic with our humour, content and fanatical approach.
EDAN: Basically we needed someone to fill the gap between the funding Nik and I had ourselves, the the amount needed to pay for the trip (food, gas, gear, etc) without bankrupting us completely, which is where Krups came into play. They had confidence in the concept early on, and with their help, we found a way to take the time off our ‘real jobs’ to make the show.
Thanks for taking the time to talk with DCILY. Good luck with the upcoming seasons.
I’ve never seen the Iron Giant, it slipped past me while I was a teenage, but I’ve heard many people refer to it as one of their favorite animated movies. Yesterday, friend and former DCILY interviewee Frank Chimero, posted this and it made me laugh. I thought I’d share it for anyone else who hasn’t seen it. Enjoy!Tweet Follow @DCILY
Wan-tzu is a former commercial design major who had no interest in animation. However, after being inspired by Mike Crozier’s film SNASK, Wan-tzu decided to give stop-motion a try. Combining a love of coffee with their newly discovered passion for animation, these films were made to depict the soul found within each cup of coffee.
Every cup of coffee contains its own soul, extracted from your feeling today.every cup of coffee is like a magic show containing different journey and bringing the unending imagination and surprises.With a sip of coffee, you not only taste your own story, but also change your perspective of the world.
This video is a trailer for an upcoming [now available] book called Coffee Story: Ethiopia, published by Ninety Plus Coffee. The book, written by adventure author Majka Burhardt and photographed by father & son duo Travis and Helmut Horn, tell a variety of stories about coffee and it’s role in Ethiopian culture. With Ethiopia being the legendary birthplace of coffee, there is a lot of history and folklore weaved into the culture and this book is meant to share some of it. It should be an enlightening read for any coffee lover.
Ninety Plus Coffee works with producers at origin in Ethiopia and Panama to develop and implement new packing technologies and other system-related solutions to help source, develop and export some of the highest quality coffee from these regions. You may be unknowingly familiar with them if you’ve ever tasted a Nekisse, Amaro Gayo or Hartmann Honey. The site’s blog reads less like that of a coffee exporter and more like the travel journal of a romantic, experiencing the wonders of a beautiful world.
Along with publishing the upcoming book on Ethiopia, Ninety Plus also offers a sensory spoon handmade from ancient silver coins in Ethiopia as well as the opportunity to become part owner of an Ethiopian Gesha Farm. The company has a very unique and refreshing approach to sharing their business with the rest of the industry.
Tweet Follow @DCILY
This video from Crema in Denver is brief but beautiful. Crema loves you and wants to make you a drink, here’s how they do it.
This shop came highly recommended from everyone I spoke to about coffee and it didn’t disappoint. The shop was small, but bright and comfortable. Fresh art on the walls and a bunch of cyclists sitting out front enjoying the weather. While I was there, they were serving Novo (roasted a block away) and Herkimer from Seattle. Their focus was mainly on espresso, but they had French presses available for fresh made coffee. It’s a bit of a walk from downtown, but totally doable and worth it.
While the name is overused, they have one of the coolest coffee websites I’ve seen.Tweet Follow @DCILY
This beautiful film produced by Hybrid Media Company was shot for MadCap Coffee in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It showcases the process from green bean to cup. Keep an eye out for a cameo of Ryan Knapp’s sexy beard and a Coffee Common tamper.
I’d suggest turning the volume up and watching it full screen. Enjoy!Tweet Follow @DCILY
This short film, made by The Coffee Brewing Institute in 1961, is a nostalgic look at how to make “perfection in a coffee cup.” The Chemex and vacuum pot both make an appearance, along with a professional cupping—complete with a suit and tie.
It’s 12 minutes long, so grab a fresh cup, sit back and enjoy!Tweet Follow @DCILY
If you haven’t heard of an Aeropress, you’re missing out on one of the best ways to brew your coffee. This relatively new invention has been rapidly rising to prominence in the coffee world recently, it even has its own World Championship. While, its initial popularity was among home brewing coffee geeks, many cafes serving specialty coffee now have one behind their counter as well.
The Aeropress was invented just 5 years ago by Alan Adler, who also invented the Aerobie flying disc. To be honest, when I first heard about the Aeropress, I dismissed it as a gimmick destined for SkyMall and late night infomercials, precisely for that reason. Afterall, what could a guy who makes frisbees and yo-yos, know about brewing coffee?
Apparently quite a bit. The Aeropress has made some of the best cups of coffee I’ve ever had—and in some of the better cafe’s I’ve visited, it’s used exclusively to brew drip coffee. Adler’s intent for inventing the Aeropress was based on his personal desire for a cup of coffee that was as full in flavor as a French press, but created a cup that was cleaner, smoother and less acidic.
Adler’s solution was to affix a thin paper filter, which allows for a fine grind, to a plastic tube a svelte 2¼ inches in diameter. (The smaller surface area is easier to plunge.) In many drip methods, the size of the grind dictates how long the coffee brews. But with the AeroPress, you choose the grind, and you decide when to plunge. –New York Times
While the Aeropress is extremely simple to use, it is also open to a wide range of experimentation. One great aspect of the Aeropress is the ability to play with various grinds, brew times, and water temperatures to achieve new results. However this can unententionally lead to endless hours of trying to dial in the “perfect” cup. The clean up is also remarkably simple, it packs well for travel or camping and it only costs about $30. Just add coffee grounds, hot water and plunge.
Photo by Chris Kolbu
Moccamaster, known by some to be the best autodrip coffee brewer you can buy for your home, has launched a new website called “The Search”. It’s a nicely designed site that hosts a series of videos about “three guys and a coffee expert, traveling the world looking for a better cup of coffee” (how do I join that team?). They begin their travels in Uganda looking for a pan roaster in a metal scrap warehouse before heading off to visit a farm and search for a “hidden island” that is told to have the best coffee in Rwanda.
The first three “episodes” have been posted already, as well as a couple videos in the Coffee Basics section. However, the basics are a bit too basic to really teach anyone anything. To say that a level cappuccino cup is the ideal amount of coffee per liter of water, doesn’t take into account that people have different sized cappuccino cups. The videos are well produced, with enough sparkling music to keep the drama high for anyone who enjoys their reality television dramatic.
If you follow their twitter, you’ll get updates when the new episodes are released and you can watch their story unfold. Enjoy!