70 hours of footage, 25 Locations, and 34 Interviews: we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ve broken it down into categories, and broken it down even further into sub-categories and we’ve crafted an incredible film, on paper index cards at least. Now the fun is translating this into a reality of 80 minutes (ish) of film that captivates, educates and inspires an audience to give speciality coffee a chance. Carter Gunn has joined the team as the full-time editor, his 2010 film Colony can be found here. We’ve hunkered down into a nice cozy space at the Avocados & Coconuts studio where we get lots of light and take regular coffee breaks to catch up on gossip and the latest GOOP recipes. A special thanks to Benjamin Paz Muñoz for stoping by all the way from Honduras to help us out with our Honduran farmer interviews and our Spanish slang.
If ever get the chance to visit a coffee producing country or region do yourself a favor and find a way to visit a coffee farm or coffee washing station. The way you look at coffee will never be the same. My goal with “A film about coffee” is for viewers to look at coffee in a completely different light. Mostly backlight with some “golden hour” light thrown in for good measure. Cinematography jokes aside, I really hope you enjoy and are inspired to understand where your coffee comes from and how many hands (and feet) your coffee touches along the way.
One thing that I really wanted to include in this film is the harvest. Ideally I would have been able to film the harvest in several countries, but this is a documentary, not a big-budget feature film (even though it will look like one). Ethiopia was out of the question since my wife and I had a beautiful baby girl right during harvest season in Ethiopia. (Nov-Jan) So here we are in Kigali, Rwanda. And what I’ve learned is that you can’t talk about harvest without talking about Green Coffee Buyers. Every respectable coffee company has a green coffee buyer that travels the world 100 or so days a year, even the non-respectable ones do as well for that fact. Green coffee buyers are pretty special people. They don’t always buy coffee like this guy (http://www.travelchannel.com/tv-shows/dangerous-grounds) but they do travel for almost 30 hours to Africa from the states on small planes and eat ice cream sandwiches for dinner ( that’s what we were served on our flight… Thank You, United Airlines)
The green buyer is a key difference in the quality of coffee that you are drinking right now. They are there on the ground with the farmers and at the wet mills cupping the coffee, deciding what tastes best for your morning cup. So when your at home getting ready to grind that fresh cup, pour a little out for your green buyer. Today I’ll pour some out for the guys that we enjoyed a few beers with: Darrin Daniel from Stumptown Coffee, Owen Thompson from Sweet Maria’s and Morten Wennersgaard from Nordic Approach.
Also a huge thanks to Matt Smith from the Rwanda Trading Company for making everything happen so smoothly.
Film-making is about having something to say- something that can only be said in a film and not a short story, or a play, or a novel. ~Woody Allen
It’s been a while since the blog has been updated – but there has been a great deal of progress on the film. When your taking on a subject like coffee, you could focus in on a number of different topics, whether it’s the taste, the chemical reaction, the history, the beauty, or the injustice. You could say that coffee is the second largest traded commodity in the world ( Oliver Strand would say your wrong…https://twitter.com/OliverStrand/status/317063705349201921), you could say “Baristas must be sexy” as Katsu Tanaka so eloquently said during our time together in Tokyo, and you could say that people are making a very large deal out of something as simple as coffee. What you can’t say is that coffee is not important, and you can’t say that people don’t care about coffee.
A Film About Coffee is just what it says in the title – a film about coffee, a film that is exploring the topic of coffee as a whole, as I see it. It’s my perspective, told by people that are trustworthy and people that have been working with coffee for some time now.
When you find yourself in Peña Blanca, Honduras with four coffee professionals you can guarantee a few things. You will most definitely eat baleadas every morning. And they will be up and stirring before you, most likely ready to hand you a cup of coffee brewed with their simple, yet very functional travel coffee setup.
We learned very quickly that the glue to every successful journey is a good host and guide. Our guide was Benjamin Paz Muñoz and his father runs the coffee mill at Beneficio San Vicente. We also learned that shooting a film about coffee in Honduras requires a strong back and a good pair of boots. Devin Chapman was sporting a slick new pair of Danner Boots and I showed up with a pair of Nike +Lunarglide running shoes or “runnahs” as my Australian Camera Assistant so affectionately calls them. Needless to say they were more like “slidahs” because we litteraly slid down the mountain after our 1900 meter interview that we were able to capture in HDRx with the RED EPIC camera with the very charming David Mancia who sells coffee to Coava Coffee in Portland, OR.
Learning was the main theme of this trip for me. One of the most interesting things I learned was that the coffee farmers here in Honduras (probably like most coffee farmers around the world) don’t know what their coffee tastes like. Sure they have had their coffee before, but most of them haven’t had it so carefully cared for and roasted with that particular coffee in mind. While we were there, we were treated to some coffee that was roasted to the color of asphalt by one of the farmers wives. She just kept letting it roast. After it petrified we had the pleasure of grinding it up on her hand mill in her house that was complete with a pristine dirt floor and some very photo-worthy tools of some sort. Another interesting thing is that it was roasted with a block of sugar cane, making the one-packet or two a decision of the past.
This trip originated out of a conversation in the lovely balcony at Sightglass coffee with Kevin Bohlin formerly of Ritual Coffee Roasters , now with his new coffee company, St. Frank Coffee. Kevin told me how he was going to brew coffee for a farmer at his house and then make espresso drinks for several farmers in the area and let them taste their coffee roasted and prepared in a more delicate way. Sold. The results were so good that you’re going to have to wait for the film to see what happened.
Tokyo has become my favorite city. The fashion, the food, the people, and the incredibly intriguing coffee scene. Unless your really in to coffee you probably don’t know that a lot of the tools cafes are using come straight from Japan. The Hario V-60, the Buono kettle the Syphon, the Woodneck Nel Drip, or the Kalita Wave all of the beautifully executed tools originate from the Land of the Rising Sun. In Tokyo, there are these secretive cafes tucked away in alleys behind shadows of skyscrapers where you can enjoy a cigarette, the daily paper and a very well executed drip coffee served in a porcelain tea cup. In “A film about coffee” we will explore these cafes called ‘Kissaten’ and see how they may have influenced coffee culture around the world and how the scene in Tokyo is starting to reflect the coffee scene that you would find in other parts of the world.