A Film About Coffee is so close we can smell the Chemex-brewed popcorn. (This just in: we are coffee people, we have no idea how popcorn works.)
Monday! September 15! The Belcourt! 7:15!
To whet your palate for coffee, film, and buttery popcorn, we talked with Brandon Loper, director of A Film About Coffee. He chats with us below about why he loves coffee, what awes him about the industry, and about the people he met on this ambitious project.
The film is sold out, so if you were one of the lucky ones, we'll see you there. But wait: if you can’t join us for the film, come to our after party! We’ll save some coffee, Little Harpeth beer, and popcorn for you.
CREMA: We love the focus of the film. You've said, "Coffee is about people, and people are what I'm interested in ultimately." Did you come into this project thinking you'd focus so much on the people behind the coffee? Or was the deeply human, personal nature of coffee something you discovered while working on the film?
Brandon: Great question. I would like to say that I set out to make a film about the people, but that was very much a discovery during the process of filming and research along the way. It's changed the way I drink coffee now, and my hope is that the film does that for other people as well.
You called the film a "love letter to specialty coffee." The film clearly explores all the things worth loving about the coffee industry -- the people, the art, the wild complexity of it all. Coffee drips deep into our personal lives as well, through our daily rituals and relationships, our conversations and coffee-driven creativity. You said you started drinking coffee to impress your now-wife (#winning), so you obviously have some deep-rooted personal connections to coffee. What do you, personally, love about coffee?
Coffee is an affordable hobby, compared to most. Whiskey, Volkswagens and vintage watches are all other things I enjoy. But in terms of the variation and a continual pursuit of something new and different, coffee, for me, is one of the few things that can provide that. Also, it makes me happy.
You visited coffee farms in Honduras and Rwanda, and talked to coffee professionals all around the globe. The film really captures the beauty and wonder of these places. Was there a moment (or moments), during filming or talking with farmers or roasters or baristas, when you just found yourself in awe of it all?
I've been thinking about this a lot recently. We are publishing a book to be released with the film (a little plug: It's gorgeous and has tons of unreleased photos and stories about making the film), and I've been writing about my experiences recently. One thing that keeps coming up is the incredible amount of work that goes into one cup of coffee. It's insane: the amount of water, the time, the physical labor…
We can't imagine the things you might have learned, flying around the globe, immersing yourself in the specialty coffee industry. But if you could name one thing, one thing you learned or understood or realized about coffee or people or yourself, what is it?
I mention this when I do a Q + A about the film: the fact that this film is just meant to scratch the surface. I've been working on this for several years and the industry keeps changing and I keep learning more. It's a long deep road to explore.
Brandon Loper is the director of A Film About Coffee. Find him at @bloper.