If you have an interest in specialty coffee or enjoy documentaries, you should watch this film. Intended by its director, Brandon Loper, to be a “love letter to, and meditation on, specialty coffee”, A Film About Coffee accomplishes this through letting the people and places in it speak for themselves.
The locations span the globe, from the United States through Honduras and Rwanda to Japan and back again, each locale adding to the knowledge of what specialty coffee is. Interspersed with these scenes are thoughtful answers to questions that are left implied, given by some of the best people working in US specialty coffee.
It is beautifully shot and moves forward with an ease and meditative quietude that makes it an absolute pleasure to take in, even if you aren’t a die-hard coffee enthusiast.
In one of the sweetest moments of the film, farmers from three Honduran farms are served their own coffees as espresso and cappuccino, probably for the first time. That the people producing coffee end up very rarely being able to enjoy the literal (as opposed to monetary) fruits of their labour is a bit sad, but unfortunately how the globalised world economy works—it’s just never as plainly visible and bittersweet as it is in this scene.
As we’ve long contended here on NCC, the influence and popularity of coffee has been driven mostly by its powers as a social facilitator; A Film About Coffee shows you the stories of the people who come together to bring you your daily cup, shepherding it from stage to stage—with the aim of, in the words of Kyle Glanville, taking away as little as possible.
A word of warning, though: you should have a fresh cup of coffee or two on hand while watching—you’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t.
Get it now, either as a stream-only “rental” for $4.99, or purchase it in high res for $12.99. Either way, it’s a bargain.
All photos in this article are stills from A Film About Coffee.