Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Coffee Expert Explains The Current State Of Coffee

New York’s foremost java expert explains how we got to $5 single-brews and $75-a-pound beans, and just where the heck we’re going next.


When food writer Oliver Strand wrote his first article about coffee six years ago, he had no idea how quickly the subject would consume his life. Since then, Strand has become known as the country’s preeminent coffee writer, his articles in The New York Times and T Magazine constantly shared, praised, debated, and, yes, ridiculed. Now writing a book about coffee around the world, Strand sat down with Narratively to chat about the past, present, and future of coffee in New York City and beyond.

How did you become “the coffee expert?”

The first article I ever wrote about coffee was small, but it put me in touch with this world and made me realize how little I knew about coffee. Like a lot of people, I thought I knew everything because, you know, I’m an adult. I was once an intern at the Guggenheim in Venice, so I knew everything about coffee, and I went to school in Berkeley, so I double-knew everything about coffee, right? But over the course of reporting the story, the people I spoke with were using terms I didn’t understand, which I kind of glossed over. I did an O.K. job, but it really stuck in my mind that you wouldn’t do that to a chef. If a chef starts to tell you about a technique, you wouldn’t say, “I’ll stop listening to you because I’ve already eaten this.”

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