I fell in love with coffee slowly. Half of it was the coffee itself, and half of it was the experience of drinking the coffee. The first time I had a coffee-based beverage was on a school trip from Buffalo to Washington DC. My friend’s mom bought our group iced cappuccinos to help us get through the day. Then, slowly, it turned into drip coffee in the mornings at my best friend’s house, to eventually owning my own espresso press because it was the cheapest option for me to make espresso at home.
The real kicker was when another of my childhood friends let me know that a US Coffee Championship Qualifier was being held in Baltimore, just a few hours from where I live and right around the corner from where she lives. There, I had the best-tasting espresso I have had to date, and my fate was sealed.
Sitting in my to-listen for an obscene amount of time has been A History of Coffee. I started listening to the first episode a while back but found my energy didn’t match the podcast. I put it down, and now in the span of a few days, have barrelled through nearly the entire two seasons, and a few bonus episodes. It goes to show if you're not matching a podcast, maybe leave it to try again later. It'll still be there.
A History of Coffee is produced to sound like you’re sitting at a table with your friends, without the camp of acting like the hosts, Jonathan Morris and James Harper are sitting in a coffee shop. The sounds of their speaking are clear, for those of you with misophonia it might be on the edge of your comfort level, but overall the sound quality is spectacularly warm and comfortable. The stories are easy on the ears, despite the dark and uncomfortable nature of the history of coffee. The host’s voices are calm and relaxing to take you back in time, only to swing back to today with how everything has touched the cup of coffee you have in the morning in your own home.
The first season takes you through the industrialization of coffee, the product once more tea-like than coffee-like in the African and Middle Eastern nations, to the mass production of coffee in countries like Brazil today. I love the way these hosts bring the story to you, with a touch of floral storytelling fluff, but being just enough to make it palatable.
Season two takes you more through the social development of coffee, from coffee stands of old, through the espresso revolution, and beyond. The two seasons are very much the same in standard of information and warmth, but the 2023 season has a little bit cleaner production value with the backing of their new sponsor, Rancilio.
This is a take-it-slow podcast, bringing you a dark history with the love of the final product and what coffee means on a societal level. It’s easy to listen to and understand but doesn’t necessarily feel exciting. It feels warm, relaxing, and contemplative. You’re given an introduction to complexity, ways to move forward more ethically if you’re coffee obsessed, and honestly, you’re sharing in the love of something. Sometimes, the most beautiful thing about an item, a beverage, a food, or a book, the most beautiful thing can sometimes be the experience of sharing it.
So share A History of Coffee with someone, share this review with someone, and enjoy the next cup of coffee you have. For some people, it’s just a pick-me-up in the morning, but it can turn into a delicious experience.
Listen to A History of Coffee here.
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Thanks for reading, and enjoy your next podcast with a cup of coffee from your local roaster. It’ll make a difference, I promise.