It is a far far better thing I do than I have ever done…Giving a presentation at the Nordic Roaster’s Forum in Copenhagen last month was for me the high point of my coffee career. It is with great pride that I post up this video of the talk here.
The 20 minute talk is called Coffee Free House. I’m quoting Marie Howell from the Harlequin in York here, in reference to the northern English Multi-Roaster Cafe scene. The term Free House was first used for untied pubs; drawing a distinction between independent pubs free to sell anyone’s beer or indeed beer they brewed themselves, compared with the huge monopolies of the the big breweries which by the early 80s saw companies like Mitchells and Butler in possession of 7000+ locations.
The Thatcher government stepped in to free up the market introducing a law called the Landmark Beer Orders but a decade later, the situation had reverted to something much the same with huge property investment firms in possession of similar numbers of pubs and yet still able to refer to themselves at free houses.
This parallels with the 2nd and 3rd wave coffee movements and in this talk, I place Prufrock in the mix as a multi-roaster cafe with certain loyalties, certain dis-loyalties and a voracious desire to ‘operate on 1st principles.’ This tenant (no pun intended; tennants is a big brewery) sits at the heart of Prufrock’s constitution. It was a lesson which Gwilym and I took to heart during our time at Monmouth Coffee, drawing from the wisdom of Randolph Hodgson.
The clincher here; the climax of the argument occurs with the line ‘roasteries are immune to gentrification’. It’s a 20 minute presentation which begins with Tim Wendelboe asking me, ‘can you say man crush?’ and to this I say ‘yes you can!’