Those of us who enjoy reading about coffee as much as drinking it, likely already know how much we adore journalists who keep us connected to our passions. A great critic is not just critical, but brings us closer to their subject. I enjoy cinema and equally enjoy David Thomson who writes about it. I enjoy history and Paul Johnson’s writing as much. Wine has benefited from Robert Parker. Audiophiles have been treated to Harry Pearson, J Gordon Holt and John Atkinson. Pick up a rail history book by Lucien Beebe and you want to ride a train. Writers ensure you hear the tree falling in the woods. Coffee has had many writers, often business professionals who apparently had a book they needed to get off their chest. But, I have a special place for two writers who inspired me: Ken Davids and Corby Kummer. I dogeared Davids’ first edition as I worked through it in developing my hobby. While Kummer’s book is also good, his Atlantic articles are for me his peak. I’ve wondered a long time how the industry nurtures writers. The coffee industry does not seem to even notice its chroniclers. So, at this year’s CoffeeCon Chicago, I’ve invited several top bloggers and local authors to participate in a round table to discuss the challenges and opportunities of writing about coffee online. Stories will be swapped, funny and sad. Serious issues such as ethics will be discussed.
While we can’t imagine an assemblage of these big personalities will allow the audience to get in a word edgewise, we nonetheless plan to take questions and even encourage civil discourse of the writers present. Here is a sample of topics: • How can you make money writing about this industry? Shouldn’t writers be sustainable? • How do we work to raise our status to other industry writers such as wine, cameras, etc? • Do we all agree coffee is a hardware and software industry (Home Theater) or is it just software (wine)? • Is it ethical to write about a client online? • Is it ethical to review products if you sell them? • Do we keep products given us? • Do you ever feel you give “free products” softer reviews? • How do you increase your audience? • How can budding writers finance their careers without selling their souls? • What’s more helpful, Facebook, LinkedIn or blogs to your distribution? • Is mainstream media dead or just sleeping? • What will you be remembered for: A TV appearance, writing a book, or blogging? • Do you review products for Amazon or other consumer sites? • How close do you want to be to the coffee industry? • Do you participate in online forums? The question I had is who is our audience? While I assume many CoffeeCon attendees are not interested in the level of depth, I see no reason to operate in secrecy. So, it’s open. I embrace budding writers, coffee bloggers, coffee enthusiasts and writing fans.