Because of the complexity of coffee and because of the way it drives us and makes us feel, I think it occupies a special place in our culture. Because it’s always been like that, over centuries. That sort of connectivity, that exchange, is consistent.
— Peter Giuliano, Specialty Coffee Association of America
A Film About Coffee is a wonderful blend of stories from around the world sharing their experiences in what goes into a great cup of coffee. From the growers, to the people discovering the beans, to the roasters, and to the baristas, the film is a wealth of knowledge that will surely open a lot of people’s eyes. The world of coffee is a lot more complicated than I ever imagined.
I had a taste of the stories that would be shared through the little introduction cards I am receiving from Blue Bottle Coffee (and before them Tonx.) Their introduction cards or letters help explain the process of how they connected with the farmers and how they selected the beans to ultimately roast. That information was the tip of the iceberg, though.
This film really delves into the world of specialty coffee and connects you to the farmers in Rwanda and Honduras, showing you the process from planting, to picking, to washing and drying the beans. The work required to create a cup of coffee is astounding. One pound of coffee is produced from just one tree in a year, and all the beans are hand picked. After that, is a long process of washing the beans and drying them before preparing to send them to the roasters around the world.
The film then connects you with the people responsible for bringing these beans to us directly from the farmers themselves. People like Eileen Hassi Rinaldi (Ritual Coffee Roasters), Darrin Daniel (Stumptown Coffee), and James Freeman (Blue Bottle Coffee), to name a few of the people that talk in the film. Each of them bring different perspective to coffee which I find fascinating. So many ideas on what makes for a perfect cup of coffee and why people love it so much.
The one thing that links everyone in the film, apart from coffee, is their dedication to their craft. Everyone loves their job and loves learning more about coffee. This is very apparent when the film introduces us to two Japanese masters, Daibo and Katsuyuki Tanaka (known as Katsu, at Bear Pond Espresso). Both devote a great amount of energy in creating the perfect cup of coffee or espresso. Daibo is incredibly meticulous, down to choosing an individual cup for each person. Each cup poured by him is a work of theatre. Katsu pours himself 1/2 a pound of coffee each morning to test how his machines are functioning, and doesn’t open his store until he is satisfied with how they taste.
A Film About Coffee is a wonderful, short film full of people and stories that give you a better appreciation about where your coffee comes from. It is available for rent for under $5.00. I went ahead and purchased the film for under $12.00, using the promo code RITUAL, courtesy of Ritual Coffee Roasters.
Be sure to watch this little gem and support your independent coffee roasters that practice direct trade with coffee growers around the world.
If you wish to explore the film and the people involved more, check out these links:
- A Film About Coffee: official website with media, shop
- Five Things I Learned From Katsu: profile of Katsu
- Daibo Dreamed of Coffee: profile of Daibo
- Coffee Snobs, SF Brew Scene, and More: interview with James Freeman of Blue Bottle Coffee
- Direct Trade Coffee Beans: a selection of coffee available from Amazon