A Film About Coffee

Tuesday, February 24th the NYU Coffee Club had their first event, a viewing of the movie, A Film About Coffee. The Coffee Club had the pleasure of hosting four representatives from Stumptown Coffee Roasters, who shared their passions for specialty coffee and even brewed us some for us to try! Founded in 1999, Stumptown has been a leader in changing how the world thinks of coffee, as a specialty rather than a commodity.  Stumptown truly focuses on the quality of their coffee, sourcing only the best beans from all over the world, but credits their relationships along the way as what really keeps them going.

Before the film began, the Stumptown representatives set up their three chemexes, swan-neck kettles and scales to brew their coffee from Rwanda’s Huye Mountain.  Students were able to mingle with the reps and feel and smell the beans, while taking notice of the flavor notes of melon, cocoa and golden raisin in their cup.  Emily Rosenberg, a Coffee Educator from Stumptown, gave an introduction to the movie, a brief history of Stumptown and explained that the Huye Mountain coffee we were all drinking, was featured in the movie.  We would be able to view it’s process literally, from farm seed to cup. 

A Film About Coffee features and dissects the history and relationships between all the people that help bring specialty coffee to consumers, around the world.  From the hands that pick the fruit, to those that process, transport, roast and brew it, specialty coffee makes a long and well-worth journey from countries across the world to your cup.  The film featured leaders in the specialty coffee world and demonstrated that their relationships with the farmers are symbiotic.  Many buyers, like Stumptown, visit their farms multiple times a year to check in on the crop and processing as well as to educate the farmers with cuppings and tastings so they can see how people are consuming their coffee. Like many farming communities, for Huye Mountain in Rwanda, agriculture is a major part of their economy, over 50% of the population is affected by coffee.  The film emphasizes this and another important difference between specialty and commodity coffee.  In the 20th Century, commodity coffee, offered by corporations such as Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds and what most people have on hand in their cabinet, has become an important part of everyday culture.  The differences between the two are vast, however an article from the Specialty Coffee Association of America summarizes it well, “A coffee that delivers satisfaction on all counts and adds value to the lives and livelihoods of all involved is truly a specialty coffee.[1]” However, little is widely known or understood about specialty coffee—something the NYU Coffee Club also hopes to help lessen.

What are some things you can do to start to learn more about specialty coffee?  You can visit Stumptown Coffee Roasters on Macdougal and W 8th St, just North of Washington Square Park.  Their Brew Bar is set up for you to talk with the baristas and have all your questions answered.  The Brew Bar also offers 2pm cupping classes, daily, where you can taste coffee and learn about it’s brew method and where it was grown.  Antajuan, a barista at Stumptown, says his favorite coffee is the Columbia El Jordan brewed on the Kalita wave, because it has a good balance between the heavy and light flavors.  Antajuan’s advice for someone interested in learning more about specialty coffee: “Don’t be afraid to drink your coffee black.”