The last two years have seen a boom in the number of coffee documentaries, specifically targeting the third wave part of the industry. I love documentaries, I love coffee, here’s a break down just in case you haven’t been able to keep up. I thoroughly encourage you to watch all of them.
Directed by: Rock Baijnauth
Run time: 1h 43min
Release date: 6th November 2015
Easily top of my list is Barista. The film follows a handful of competitive baristas as they gear up to compete in the United States Barista Championship. We learn about what the competition involves, what it takes to be a competitive barista, and who some of the big names in the US coffee scene are.
A great documentary even if you didn’t know that barista championships were a thing that doesn’t take itself too seriously but is still very informative and entertaining.
You’ll find yourself rooting for individuals you’ve only just heard of as their passion oozes out from the screen. Seriously, it’s emotional. I’ve watched it 5 times.
I’ve also just learnt that there’s another Barista documentary coming in December 2017 so keep an eye out for that.
The Coffee Man
Directed by: Jeff Hann
Run time: 1h 25min
Release date: 18th May 2016
Following on with the competitive theme, The Coffee Man follows World Barista Champion Sasa Sestic to find his perfect cup of coffee in Ethiopia. We learn about his journey from growing up in Yugoslavia, his move to Australia, and his entering into the World Barista Championships in Seattle, Washington.
At first, I thought this film was just going to be about stroking Sasa’s ego, but his story is genuinely interesting, entertaining, and inspiring. All competition segments are nail-biting even if we already know the outcome.
Coffees: Italians Do It Better (?)
Directed by: Federica Balestrieri, Federico Lucas Pezzetta
Run time: 43mins
Release date: 3rd June 2017
This one is, as you’ve probably guessed from the title, about the Italians and the coffee culture found in Italy. The ideas behind the classic Italian roasting style, and why they won’t budge from them, the glory of the espresso machine, and what can the Italians learn from the rest of the specialty coffee industry?
But there’s also the elephant in the room; Starbucks is opening a store in the heart of Milan. What do the Italians think about it, and how will it change minds?
Warning: This film features 95% Italian speakers with English subtitles.
A Film About Coffee
Directed by: Brandon Loper
Run time: 1h 7mins
Release date: 26th April 2014
A Film About Coffee looks at what it takes for coffee to be defined as specialty. The film takes us on a tour of farms in Africa and Central/South America and coffee shops all around the world for conversations with farmers, roasters, and baristas offering their insight into the process of the perfect cup as well as how they work together.
For baristas, and anybody else interested, this film is a great introduction into the coffee farming process, and there are plenty of beautiful shots of the scenery that will immediately inspire you to take a trip.
Directed by: Hanh Nguyen, Vishal Solanki
Run time: 1h 20mins
Release date: 2nd July 2015
Similar to A Film About Coffee, Caffeinated follows professionals at every stage of the coffee process from farming, to roasting, to serving in major coffee consuming and producing locations.
Caffeinated also features a really cool segment on the Cup of Excellence, a competition in which the tables have turned so that now the farmers are the ones competing to see who can produce the most amazing crop.
All of these films are available online, either through their own website or on YouTube for a small fee.