Many years ago I watched a three-part documentary about the history of coffee, called "Black Coffee." The movie was based on the book, "Uncommon Grounds," which was written by Mark Pendergrast. This is like the bible of coffee, a fascinating look into coffee's sordid past. Pendergrast is in the documentary, telling stories and regaling the viewer with tales that seem incredible. But I noticed throughout the film that he didn't really seem to know a lot about coffee itself.
That following Spring, a man walked up to me at the conference for the Specialty Coffee Association of America and he handed me a ticket to an event. I looked at his name tag and exclaimed, "YOU'RE MARK PENDERGRAST!" Of course I told him how much I loved Uncommon Grounds, and then I asked him about his understanding of coffee beyond its history. He sheepishly looked around and asked me to please keep this between us.
From that point, I began sending him emails and pounds of coffee, and eventually a coffee grinder, trying to explain coffee from my point of view. He took to it, and was particularly interested in a new coffee I had recently managed to bring in from Colombia. As luck would have it, Mark was writing a coffee column for Wine Spectator magazine. And he decided to do a piece on this really special coffee, the first natural to come out of Colombia. Ariel Montoya's coffee from Hacienda El Boton - the coffee we now call Maduro.
Winemakers from around the world came to the DoubleShot after reading the story in Wine Spectator. And my favorite winemaker, Ray Coursen (creator of Elyse Winery and now Jacob Franklin Wines) became a regular online customer.
Read Mark Pendergrast's story from June 2010 in Wine Spectator.