I had imagined it scripted. Joseph and Todd being forced to do multiple takes after messing up carefully crafted lines. I think it’s how we all imagine television being. However, for the most part, I was surprised. The production was little more than a few cameras and good conversation.
Todd Carmichael is the Founder and CEO of La Colombe Coffee. A hugely successful coffee roasting company with cafés from New York to Seoul. During his career as a roaster he trekked from Antartica to the South Pole to set a world record time (which is tattooed on his right arm), as well as drifted solo off southern Fuji for three months on a home made raft. As he and I chatted, an obsessive passion for experiential life exuded from him.
Several years ago he was picked up by the Travel Channel to be featured on his own show, Dangerous Grounds. A show where Todd travels the globe hunting for the highest-grade coffee in the world. This is why he paid us a visit in Panama. To share a few cups of coffee, and a few new ideas.
We took him around the farm. “A tour of the grounds” may be the simplest way to put it (pun intended). Though after a few shots of the Ninety Plus facilities, out came the bags of green Gesha coffee. And of course, the roasting machine.
Joseph and Todd spat coffee jargon back and forth while turning knobs here and tapping gauges there. Both of them with sparkles in their eyes. The coffee they were roasting was Ruby. An heirloom Gesha variety where each bean of each batch is hand picked after natural processing. Ruby was the trick up Joseph’s sleeve, so then it was Todd’s turn.
He described it as “Brewing in Space”. A coffee brewing contraption he designed and had custom made that creates a zero-gravity chamber from which the coffee is forcefully pulled through a filter. Being a two man operation, Joseph held shut the chamber while Todd pumped in the pressure. And the coffee, it was gorgeous. Resembling more of a brandy or dark rum than coffee.