Last week I received an intriguing e-mail from Aniko Somogyi from the Anikona coffee farm in Hawaii. Aniko hosts a show called My Favorite Coffee Story on VoiceAmerica, an internet-based talk radio station. I must confess that I’d not come across My Favorite Coffee Story before (or VoiceAmerica for that matter), but I was intrigued. Each week, Aniko interviews someone from the world of coffee and they spend an hour talking coffee. The shows are pre-recorded and broadcast, unedited, every Tuesday at 4pm Pacific Time (midnight in the UK), with all the previous episodes available on-demand on the VoiceAmerica website or as a podcast (just search for My Favorite Coffee Story on your podcast software/service).
The purpose of the e-mail was to ask whether I’d like to appear on the show. Me? Talking about coffee? For an hour? Hell yeah! As anyone who saw my talk at the British Library last weekend will attest, I can talk about coffee for a long, long time. So, naturally I said yes, and last Wednesday I sat down (virtually) with Aniko and we talked coffee for an hour. Then, last night, the show was broadcast…
If you’ve already heard it, then you can skip the rest of the post, which is a summary of what we talked about, or you could just listen to it.
So what’s My Favorite Coffee Story all about? Well, it’s pretty much what it says on the tin, with me and Aniko (although, mostly me, if I’m honest: poor Aniko had trouble getting a word in edgeways!) talking coffee for an hour. The show is split into three segments, each of roughly 20 minutes.
In the first segment, we talked (very briefly) about my early years and how I came to appreciate good quality coffee when I went to university. We went on to discuss how I discovered espresso and Italian coffee culture on a trip to Rome in 1999 and from there we got talking about the origins of the Coffee Spot, how I first had the idea around 20 years ago and how it came to fruition in the summer of 2012. We ended the segment talking about my recent travels in Vietnam and Thailand and the importance of direct trade, which is taken to its logical conclusion in both countries.
The second segment continued where we left off, talking about my coffee travels, focusing on my time in Japan, where I discovered the traditional Japanese kissaten and found Vermillion Café, perhaps the most perfect location for a coffee shop. This naturally led into how I write my coffee spots, so if you’ve ever wondered exactly how I go about it, have a listen! We then moved onto talking about my US travels, and how the Coffee Spot went international, which includes me singing the praises of Philadelphia and explaining how most of my travel these days is built around coffee, including my round-the-world trip of two years ago and my recent train trip across America. We ended the segment talking about my book, The Philosophy of Coffee, which led us back to the same topic that we ended the first segment on: direct trade and the challenge of ensuring that coffee farming provides a livelihood for all those involved in it.
The third and final segment continued the discussion of The Philosophy of Coffee, and I explained the critical role of Islam in early years of coffee and then talked about the spread of coffee around the world, including coffee’s dark side: slavery and imperialism. Aniko also asked me about the Glasgow Coffee Festival, which gave me an excuse to talk about Scotland’s excellent coffee scene and also bang on a bit (well, maybe a lot) about reusable cups, since the Glasgow Coffee Festival is going disposable-free this year. We ended with a question from Aniko about my dreams. To be honest, I’m pretty much living the dream right now, travelling and writing about coffee. I guess the one thing I would like to do that I haven’t is visit some coffee farms, which somehow turned into Aniko inviting me out to the farm in Hawaii…
In closing, I’d like to thank Aniko for inviting me onto My Favourite Coffee Story and for giving me the chance to talk about coffee for an hour. More than that, though, I’d like to thank her for being such an excellent host. You can tell from the questions she asked (when I finally did let her get a word in!) and the way she steered the conversation that she really had done her research before the show.
If you missed it and I’ve whetted your appetite, then you why not listen to my episode of My Favorite Coffee Story, A Passion For All Things Coffee. If you prefer listening as a podcast, then the series is also available and should be easily found by all good podcast software.
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