FVH – Burke Museum, opening weekend.
January 23, 2009
The Burke Museum in Seattle is kicking off this weekend an exhibit titled “Coffee: The World In Your Cup”. To my knowledge, this is the first of it’s kind in North America! I had the privilege of making an introduction to the press (about 20-30 people) and speaking about the relevance and value of this exhibit to the coffee industry on Wednesday. I will also be lecturing on Saturday the 24th along with David Griswold founder of Sustainable Harvest in Portland and Max Savishinsky the director of UW Exploration Seminar Study Abroad Programs. In the afternoon I’ll do a brief tasting. I’m thinking I’ll sample roast a few micro lots, maybe some vacuum packed maragogype and peaberry. I’ll brew them each in both chemex and eva solo, so attendees can taste a clean cup as well as one with some artificial body for those who may be disappointed in such a light roast hoping for a less flavorful and bolder taste.
This has been a collaborative effort on behalf of many of the staff at the Burke as well as many from the coffee industry. You’ll find burlap sacks hung up on the wall over 25 feet wide and close to 20 feet high. There is a pretty good spread of marks that are mostly mill and export marks, but some import and even roaster marks from atlas, intelli, stumptown, tonys and many more. While I was there a few hours I didn’t get more than a glance at it, but did notice someone submitted our bag!!! And it was stuffed separately next to a big poster with Ted Lingles tasters wheel and some other text with a title – “The Perfect Cup”.
While Starbucks was not on board at first they eventually came around and were more than supportive and collaborative. They just couldn’t not be a part of it as it is in their back yard and they have paved the way for the early development of specialty coffee.
Before leaving I got to talking and met a journalist who is also a Q grader. Not knowing who he was I asked, so what do you do in coffee or where do you work aside from being a jounalist? (As curiosity is getting the best of me.) His response was “Nothing – outside of journalism, I’m not a professional in the coffee industry.” It turns out the Miles Small is an information sponge and is editor/owner of COFFEE TALK,which has been around for 22 years!!!
While the Burke is not a place where coffee professionals will go to learn a lot of content, it is fun to soak up the details as they’ve done a fantastic job of creating a social space among coffee displays that give some idea what coffee looks like from seed to cup. So for anyone who has not been to origin this beats watching any video and hopefully will compel you to finally make that first, or 41st trip to origin. There is a small depulper, patio with coffee drying and even a display of what the corner of a fermentation tank or washing tank may look like with fresh wet pergamino.
And for anyone who has any interest at all in coffee, it’s history or culture it is a great place to just watch the screen as pictures cycle through. Many of the photos used on the home page’s flash as well as in other places on the website, in the exhibit on the walls and in posters were taken by Gabe Rodriguez at FVH. His photography continues to amaze me even as I go back and take another look at pictures I’ve already seen many times. Here is a link to some of these pictures… if you look around you’ll find many more.
We are putting together a 2009 calendar as we did 3-4 years ago and it will be composed 100% of Gabe’s photos. While it does not tell the complete seed to cup story and include a great picture of my wife driving one of our old Land Cruiser pick ups, the images speak for them self and are very engaging. It’s kind of ridiculous actually how much raw detail is each of these pictures.
I also did an interview on KUOW Public Radio with Jeremy Richards that may be aired Jan 23 in the afternoon. I will post a link if I find one later as well as posting about Saturday. The interview was a Q&A as well as a walk around and talk in the museum as we soaked it all in ending with a tasting. Major Cohen was serving pressed Bella Vista – Tres Rios and Nathan Warner the head roaster at Fidalgo Bay was pouring fresh pressed Selvanica into ceramic, which had great acidity and sweetness.
The exhibit will be around for about 6 months and if you are not in the pacific northwest, check back on the museum website later this year as this exhibit will hit the road for 3 years!!!
Don’t miss it!