Hey, it's been a pretty great year, but also a tragic one. As I look back over the year, I saw my coffee appreciation and knowledge grow greatly, and the people that I've gotten to know over the past year have all been treasures.
We've also had a very bad year - the worst one in decades in fact. A tragic one with 9/11, one that will be etched in our hearts forever. But I think through it, we, as a whole, may have actually gained from it - we've gotten a bit closer, we've all shared in a serious pain, and who knows - maybe the world will be better off in the coming years precisely because of 9/11. Not because the terrorists get what they want or get a world they want - but because we won't let them - instead of cowering, we're coming together, and realising that different ethnicities don't have to mean differences - it can mean understanding, hope, and the vast improvement of the common good... the common good of humankind.
I know this column is supposed to be about coffee, so I'll end my 9/11 talk by giving one more shout out to the folks who collectively raised almost $900 by buying and re-buying the Coffee Robot I put up for charity auction for the NYC funds and disaster relief agencies to help out those who need it. You guys are complete stars in my book.
As for Christmas... well, Christmas is a special time for me. I do tend to go overboard in the presents I buy, but I try to give a personal touch to every gift I give.
And while this website, CoffeeGeek, isn't about me - it's about you and the coffee loving community online - there isn't anything really more personal that I can give you than this website. You see, most sites like this - information sites, review websites, op/ed sites, they start out as marketing plans, as ways to make money for the "backers". There may very well be a true passion or guiding light behind those sites, but don't be fooled - the primary goal is to make something profitable. And there's nothing wrong at all with that. I'm a capitalistic person myself, and hey, if a company can put a resource online that is going to inform and entertain me, I don't begrudge them for one second if their primary goal is to make money. I can be just as much "about the money" as anyone else can...
But this site isn't about the money. It wasn't even a factor in our own strategy for getting the site planned, designed, coded, and online. The only financial factor was more or less an afterthought - we need to make enough money to pay the authors some dough, and pay the costs of this site. Hence the amount of advertisements we're going to run - next to nil. We'll have one banner up top per page, maybe one small side banner, the text ads you already see, and GeekLinks on the review pages. No popups (EVER!), no fifteen ads per page. Information, community, opinion, reviews, controversy, intelligence, yes.
So if this site isn't about money, what is it about? I'll tell you. It's about you - the coffee lover. The espresso hound. The newbie who wants to brew "as good as Starbucks". The seasoned vet who looks down their nose at Starbucks. Practially anyone who is online and has a passion for coffee. This is your site. Your community if you want it to be. This was our goal all year long as we practiced, honed, designed, trashed, redesigned, trashed again, redesigned, coded, programmed, sweated, argued, shouted, freaked out, worked till three in the morning, worked 18 hours a day for the past few weeks, did all of that. Our goal was to take pride in something that would appeal to you, the coffee lover.
We still have a ways to go, and I still have some more money to spend - by my own count, and not including my own labor, this website has cost me and my company some $32,000 to produce (see, I can be about the money, and no, we had no venture capital). There are features I want - features I think you want, that we don't have yet, but soon will. There are plans for increased interactivity, for mobile versions of the website, versions for those physically impaired, and other stuff I don't even want to mention for fear I'll jinx myself. But it's all coming, and hopefully you'll like it.
But if you don't, that's cool, and I hope you let me know it - after all this is a community, and you can participate by joining as a member and clicking in the interactive zone below my words here - there's a discussion board attached to this very article.
But in the meantime, let me present this holiday gift to you, my fellow coffee and espresso fans, in the hopes you'll make it a small part of your day, and become part of the community.
And what kind of gift would I like? I can tell you get them almost every day - every day when I read my email, and read a letter from someone who is writing me to thank me for the CoffeeKid site, or for this new site, that is one of the best gifts I could ever get - knowing that these things I do are appreciated by some is such an awesome, and striking experience, and I am humbled by it, and thank those people from the bottom of my heart. In other words, it's always been my pleasure.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all.