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Coffee at the Moment by Mark Prince
A Renewed Focus on Writing at CoffeeGeek
Posted: March 27, 2012
Article rating: 9.3
feedback: (2) comments | read | write
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One of the things I was quite ashamed of regarding CoffeeGeek was the lack of original content we had to offer in what used to be the website's bread and butter: the Opinions Section. When CoffeeGeek launched, I managed to line up a great core of writers who, in 2001, were writing a lot of the most cutting edge information on coffee and espresso, at least online. But two things are very hard: writing consistently and on schedule; and managing writers effectively. I don't have good management skills for writers -- never have -- and no one knows better than me how hard it is to write on demand.

From 2001 through 2004, we made a concerted effort -- both the writers who would come to CoffeeGeek, and me with my meagre writer management skills. During that stretch, over 100 feature articles were published on CoffeeGeek, along with a variety of Detailed Reviews, First Looks, How Tos and more. (Many of these articles are now in our retired columnist section - check it out!). But I knew around that time that I'd need help to constantly recruit fresh blood into the mix because I was rapidly losing steam for that job.

Over the next half decade, I did go through a few content editors, but we could never find a mix that worked for CoffeeGeek. And slowly, the site's original content devolved a bit from a bunch of writers covering a lot of different content, to mainly my own articles with a few guest writers here and there. I was never happy about that. The goal of CoffeeGeek is not to be my voice, but a myriad of voices helping people learn more about coffee and espresso, literally from seed to cup.

I wanted so many things: I wanted several professional baristas writing for us sharing their insights into how coffee and espresso is done in great cafes around the world. I wanted a farmer to provide their perspective from the seed side of things, not only to help the consuming public understand more about this beverage, but also help them respect the beverage more. I wanted anecdotal reports from around the world, talking about the culture of coffee from places you'd never imagine before. I wanted some great home barista skills to be taught in an approachable and  -- and if you can believe it -- a non-geeky way. I wanted people with very different opinions from my own to have a venue to talk about every aspect of coffee and espresso.

In late 2011, I made my fifth attempt to find a great content editor to take over the role of getting fresh content onto CoffeeGeek. This time around, the answer was pretty much right in front of me. A long time friend of mine and veteran of the industry, Angie Lof (former JJ Bean employee and trainer in Vancouver) who has moved onto teaching, expressed interest in the job. And Angie seems like a great fit: she is incredibly enthusiastic; is diligent in the more mundane things about the job (on top of emails, chasing down bios, photos, edits, sending reminders, mining for new writers); has a great writing style; and most importantly, knows the subjects.

Angie started working on a trial basis for CoffeeGeek as the new content manager in December 2011. We went through a training period, then a recruitment period. As a result, we've managed to line up a half dozen new (and very enthusiastic) regular columnists who will be contributing new articles every so often with a goal of at least once per month. We've also managed to recruit a starting roster of over 20 contributing / guest writers who will be doing what we call "feature" articles. And there's much more to come.

As you can see from what's been going on around CoffeeGeek the past few weeks, we've rolled out many (but not all) of the new regular columnists and tossed in a few new fresh articles from feature writers. We're certainly not done yet. Angie and I have a goal in mind for CoffeeGeek: a starting goal of at least six new articles a month from people other than myself, and perhaps as much as ten per month.

These aren't off the cuff articles either: I'm talking about magazine style articles that go through a pretty intense editing process to make sure we meet (and hopefully exceed) the minimum standards you'd expect from the great media sources online today. We're also working quite a bit on getting our photography to the same level of professional standards we've established already on CoffeeGeek in our reviews and how to sections.

The Writers

I'm really excited by our initial slate of new regular columnists on CoffeeGeek. We're still working on establishing more, and hope to find a few within our stable of guest writers but I think Angie's done a fantastic job so far lining up some great folks with really intriguing stores surrounding coffee and espresso.

Emily Haworth - Coffee Farmer
Pretty much since I launched CoffeeGeek over 10 years ago, I wanted a farmers' perspective on the website. We've had guest articles here and there but no regular contributing writer. This has changed: we have the amazing Emily Haworth, who owns El Jardin Del Caf, a coffee farm in Panama. Emily plans on keeping us informed and educated on what a coffee farmer has to go through, throughout the year. I'm so excited by this addition and love Emily's conversational writing style.

Chris Weaver - Professional Barista
We're so lucky to have Chris on board. Not only is he a respected head barista a great London cafe, but he has a lot of coffee experience in other parts of Europe (most notably Paris). Look for Chris to cover training and technical things in coffee, but also the culture of coffee in the UK and parts of Europe.

Jack Hanna - Roaster, Barista
I've known Jack personally for a long time - he used to work here in Vancouver for Caffe Artigiano, but has since gone back to his native Australia to continue a career in coffee. Jack's well known in the world of coffee (particularly in Australia) and will bring the cultural perspective of his country along with everything involved in starting up a new company. Jack's first article will be up within a few days.

Nathan Slabough - Coffee Enthusiast
I met Nathan when he visited the CoffeeGeek Lab back in 2009; such an interesting cat. He worked for a famous circus for years and years and does many coffee-education trips. He's a true nomad but won't settle for anything less than great coffee. Nathan's going to be talking about coffee and espresso "in the wild" and in places you'd never expect.

CoffeeKids Feature Articles
We also have the fantastic charity CoffeeKids on board and their crop of writers to tak on a regular column on CoffeeGeek! They'll be telling you about various CoffeeKids programs in Central America, where you donations are going, and other cultural and human interest stories involving the growing of coffee.

Angie Lof
Angie is also taking on the task of being a regular columnist, providing her own perspective as a former trainer and barista in Vancouver. She'll be covering various aspects of improving a team's barista skills and overall appreciation for coffee and espresso.

There are also a few additional Regular Columnists in the wings, and we'll be introducing them soon!

Feature Articles.

We are also really amping up our feature articles including interviews and reports from the road. We've completed a three part series of interviews with some amazing folks in the tech journalism field who also have a great love for quality coffee. The first one, Ryan Block's interview, is online, as is the second one, an interview with Will Smith.

We'll be bringing you a wide and diverse group of guest writers who hopefully will entertain, inform, and educate you on everything revolving around coffee, from the seed side of things, all the way to the cup. Lots of coffee culture and coffee history too. I do love coffee history, after all (especially accurate history).

Click for larger image
Submitting Your Article
On all the guest columnist listing pages, towards the middle left of the page you can see the Column Description and a hyperlink for "Find out how to submit your story". Click it!
Click for larger image
Submit Article Page
This is the start of the submit article page. It gives tips on how to write your article, what to prepare and what to submit. The form is detailed, but it helps us streamline your article submission and getting it on the website.

This is where you come in. Did you know you can actually submit an article to CoffeeGeek directly through the website? It's a long lost feature that has always been there, but rarely promoted or used. If you have something you'd like to write about regarding coffee and espresso, here's how you can submit an article through the website:

Check out any of our feature columns (they are about halfway down the Opinions page). Let's take, for example, the Cafe Stage feature column, a place on CoffeeGeek intended to be our Speakers' Corner where you can get anything regarding coffee or espresso off your chest. Just midway down the webpage on the left side under "The Cafe Stage Archives" the column description can be found, and a text link saying Find out how to submit your story. Clicking this link (as long as you are logged into CoffeeGeek) will bring you to an article submission page where you get guidelines on the kind of articles we want, and a long form for submitting your article idea and photographs.

This submission form requests everything we need to consider and possibly publish your article so you will have to do a fair amount of preparation before using the form. To submit an article, we need information about you (contact info, name, email address, bio, your bio photo etc). For the article itself we need really good photographs you have permission to use and give to us for use (at the minimum two photographs - the identifying one we use on the front page plus one in-story photo relating to the article). We also need you to write out a well thought out introduction to the article, a precis of what your article is about and the article title. Last, but certainly not least, we need you to put your article into either .doc (Microsoft Word - only .doc, not .docx) or .rtf (rich text format) and include it with the form submission.

Our Content Editor will review the article submission and get back to you within a week or less regarding its suitability for CoffeeGeek. All the Feature Columns have this article submission feature - the link can be found in each column's description, about midway down the page (on the left side).

Hopefully we'll be reading something from you soon! You can also contact Angie directly if you prefer to go that route. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy this renewed focus on new content on CoffeeGeek, and we hope this is only the beginning - much, much more fresh content regarding coffee and espresso will be coming!

Article rating: 9.3
Posted: March 27, 2012
feedback: (2) comments | read | write
Coffee at the Moment Column Archives email author
Mark PrinceColumn Description
Whether it's up to the minute, happening this day, this week, or in the recent past, this column's goal is to present coffee and attempts to make the experience truly culinary. You'll find short reviews about past events, interesting coffees coming on the market, new and different ways to enjoy espresso and other brewing methods, and give an insight into efforts around the globe to make coffee a truly culinary thing. Column written by Mark Prince.

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