Friday, July 08, 2016

Coffee Week

Yes, Coffee Week (Not Weak)!

Beneficio Hayes-Boh: Doing the
dry-mill process at home on a
very small scale.
Coffee Week (Not Weak) is a course that I am offering -- with the help of many coffee professionals -- during the second week in July. I arrived at that quirky title because two other good titles were already taken. Geography of Coffee is my annual study tour in Nicaragua (coming soon to Peru and Ethiopia) and the Secret Life of Coffee (cleverly named by my wife Pamela) is the speaking-intensive seminar I offer each spring.

As soon as I read the notice that our university was offering faculty a new format for courses -- allowing us to teach all day for five days (or in half-day segments for 10 days), the Coffee Week concept was born. To make it punnier, I wanted to call it Coffee Week -- Not Weak Coffee, but that would not fit in the scheduling software. Hence the cryptic, parenthetical subtitle.

The reason I was able to visualize the course so quickly is that our region is rich with coffee-related resources, including all kinds of excellent cafes and a handful of the world's most important roasters. The 8-hour class sessions give us a chance to visit quite a few of these, hearing directly from the people for whom coffee is a way of changing the world ... for the better.

Most of the places we will visit are independent cafes -- by their very nature, these are ideal places for discussion of any topic. The cafes will serve both as venues for conversation and topics of conversation. When millions of dollars are being spent on the marketing of commodity coffee in generic storefronts, what makes a local shop with limited resources survive and even thrive?

Our visits will also include a couple of those important roasters -- important because they focus on the fair treatment of the people who actually grow the coffee -- and some non-profit organizations with coffee connections.


This map is not complete, by any means. I could easily fill a second week, including full days in Providence and Boston. I am willing to bet, though, that the six students taking this class will find their own way to more of our region's coffee treasures in the near future.

Find reviews of more than 100 independent cafes on my GeoCafes blog. This includes many student reviews and a few of my own, of cafes throughout New England and as far away as Shanghai. That blog has its own map, of course!

Read more about the original plans for Coffee Week (Not Weak) on my November 2015 Cafe Crawl for Credit post. Learn more about all of my endeavors -- coffee-related and otherwise -- through my new portal at

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