Hot Coffee: The Cult of Cool

By Julie Wolfson

Discovering How Specialty Coffees Are Heating Up in the Foodie Frenzy

How, I wondered, did I find myself standing with coffee growers from around the world watching Charles Babinski do a step-by-step demonstration of the process for making coffee in a siphon? The next day, I experienced my first attempt at cupping, observing a few wry smiles as I misunderstood the unique aromas from a Panama Geisha. A few weeks later, I began to follow the Handsome Coffee team through the construction process of their first coffee bar. Soon after, I flew to Ireland and spent the day with the Irish Barista Champion, Colin Harmon, visiting both 3FE locations in Dublin. So there I was, tumbling headfirst into a coffee Alice in Wonderland-like rabbit hole.

As a new media journalist, I have spent the last several years covering travel, lifestyle, pop culture, events, art, food, cocktails, and even video game stories. When it came to coffee, I was a customer and part of coffee culture, but had not written about it… yet. Then I received a story assignment from Cool Hunting to cover the Intelligentsia’s Extraordinary Coffee Workshop – soon I was meeting award-winning coffee farmers, green coffee buyers, roasters, and barista champions. The Intelligentsia weekend led to me learning about the process and to writing more coffee stories and soon after, an invitation to be part of the media panel at Symposium 2012 to talk about what I was discovering about the coffee world.

The thread that runs though all of the different topics I cover is the love of meeting and writing about talented people who make wonderful things. The more I talk about coffee, the more I realize that with the increasing popularity of single origin coffees, home-brewing techniques, and coffee bars, specialty coffee is having an ‘it girl’ moment. One LA food writer joked that, “Coffee is the new cupcake,” but it is much more than that. I choose what coffee to drink every day- cupcakes I have only on special occasions. The things that the coffee industry have known and worked toward for a long time are catching on and opening up new opportunities in the media and growing consumer culture.

Here are a few things that I have learned so far:

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