Coffee Common was a reaction to confusion.
We encountered struggles to decipher the sometimes noisy guidance on what coffee should, and could be. We struggled to reconcile those questions with our own advice and habits. At the same time, we recognized some common principles that we felt were core:
We wanted more discerning customers, and an industry more determined to serve them. We found ourselves saying the same thing, and thought it might be more powerful to say it together.
A year and a half and five events later we feel like we’ve moved some of these discussions from back rooms to the public square. We’ve fostered a safe place to ask questions, and have seen the impact of better informed customers. We challenged people to look at coffee a little differently and have been inspired by their reactions.
Coffee Common has grown to levels we never imagined at its inception, more successful than we’d ever hoped. It was never intended to be a full-time project for any of us, but it became that for all of us. That level of commitment produced some amazing results that we will always be proud of, but realistically isn’t sustainable for 7 already very busy people without changing the focus from education and experimentation to profitability and commercialization. That’s not the future we wanted for Coffee Common, and thus have decided to close this chapter of our collective coffee experience.
It’s our sincere hope that the ideas that orbited Coffee Common continue to inspire others both inside and outside of the coffee industry and to encourage people to tap in and explore their own curiosity for coffee.
Here’s a low tech, but fun video we made during TED a couple weeks ago, showcasing one method for the Hario V60 as demonstrated by the talented baristas at Coffee Common. Use this as a guide in your own experimentation and coffee brewing at home. Enjoy!
The Moments at Coffee Common video made it onto the TED Blog as well as a link to our Flickr stream. Hard to believe it was all just a few days ago.
Photos from the last days of Coffee Common at TED are now on Flickr.
Following the success of our tea program at TED Global 2011 last summer we were happy to share the experience at TED2012 in Long Beach—and so were the TEDsters.
Thanks to Rishi and Waterloo, we had a great selection of quality loose leaf teas to brew for incredibly happy tea drinkers who often get overlooked. There were blacks, oolongs, greens and whites arranged in a way that inspired guests to make their selection through sight, smell, or tasting several side-by-side.
There was constant conversation going on at our tea bar with a segment of the audience that we may not have been engaging in the past. This encouraged discussions about quality, preparation, and even some comparisons between coffee and tea.
Rishi Tea & Waterloo Tea
As Chris Anderson said in his closing remarks, TED doesn’t end when the conference does, its an idea that continues year-round. We feel the same way about Coffee Common. Although our week at TED2012 has finished, we hope the idea of Coffee Common will continue every day.
It will take us a while to decompress and absorb everything we saw, heard, and shared this week. One thing stands out however, and that’s the impressive, passionate, and dedicated team of baristas we got to share the week with in Long Beach and Palm Springs. Our gratitude to all those who helped us make Coffee Common at TED2012 and TED Active 2012 possible.
We serve a lot of coffee during our week at TED2012, but we also serve a lot of creamy, delicious cappuccinos. The better the milk, the better the taste—and the organic milk from grass fed cows that Clover Organic help provide is some of the finest a barista can get in California. That milk, paired well with the espresso we were serving, added a sweetness to the profile to ensure that additional sugar wasn’t needed.
Clover Organic Farms
The only other option besides whole milk was soy, which was provided to us by Pacific Natural Foods to meet the dietary needs of the lactose-free. Soy milk can add new variables for baristas trying to provide the same enjoyable texture in their cappuccinos, but Barista Series Soy Blenders is a specific formula to help baristas do the best they can.
Pacific Natural Foods
Thanks to both Clover and Pacific Foods for their support of Coffee Common at TED2012 and TED Active 2012.
This year at TED2012 one of our bars was inside the Google Garage, built by Boxman Studios using shipping containers. Behind the green roll-up door was the most interactive bar we’ve had to-date at a TED event.
At this bar, TEDsters could request any coffee on any brew methods, including Hario V60, Hario Woodneck, Chemex, or AeroPress. We also had a La Marzocco GS3 (single group espresso machine) on bar for espresso and an Uberboiler for our hot water.
What made this bar unique was that TEDsters were invited to step behind the bar and learn to brew coffee themselves, practice steaming milk, and even pull shots of espresso for their fellow TED attendees. All week, the other bars would send eager guests to the Google Garage for hands-on learning and complimentary bags of their favorite coffees.
For those who missed our master class at the beginning of the week, this was a great opportunity to continue putting the kettles and portafilters into the hands of those interested in taking their home coffee brewing and their understanding of the craft to the next level.
Coffee Common baristi, Mark Hundley and Colin Whitcomb at Palm Springs, eagerly waiting to take on the last day of TEDActive.