Creating a World That Works for All
I was all set to pen something about new beginnings but, as often happens, something else got in the way. Today, we held the BK Author Lunch for Soren Kaplan, who is working on the upcoming BK book Leapfrogging: Harness the Power of Surprise for Business Breakthroughs. I figured that something in Soren's presentation might fit well into the new year framework -- especially if combined with this newsletter's featured title, Stepping Up: How Taking Responsibility Changes Everything -- and so I listened extra attentively, paper and pencil poised and taking notes. As Soren discussed the power of surprise in business innovation, he used a particular example to illustrate one of his points -- a Parisian coffee shop with a slightly different business model and a lot of success.
The Cafeotheque of Paris is unique to city for many reasons (only a few of which I will mention here): They roast in-house and serve beans from all over the world; they do so with extreme care, passion, and detail; and they love that they do so much that they offer in-depth barista training training, as well. As Soren continued his presentation, I found my mind going back to his description of The Cafeotheque. It reminded me quite a lot of another coffee company (first a roaster, and now a chain of shops, as well) based out of Oakland, California: Blue Bottle Coffee. I will spare you the detailed history of the company (since it's easier to simply direct you to that section of their website), and stick to what is most relevant. Like The Cafeotheque, the people at Blue Bottle seem to love and respect coffee and the processes that create it, so much so that they also offer (and, for their own shops, strictly require) barista training courses and roastery tours (one of which I took, which is how I know so much). For them, spreading knowledge of -- and respect for -- the making of coffee, seems as important as spreading the coffee, itself. And, if two entities so small (relatively speaking) are doing this, you can bet that they aren't the only ones. Or, if they are, they won't be for long.
So, what's the point? I'm still trying to figure that out. As I've worked my way closer and closer towards an acquiring editorial position here at BK, I've put a lot of thought into what sorts of books I'd like to contribute. To me, the food we eat -- how we acquire it, make or process it, consume it and distribute it -- has always seemed a crucial part of society and, as such, any societal change. But perhaps I've been remiss in neglecting what's literally right in front of me: What we drink. One of the most consumed beverages in the world, coffee has played (and continues to play) a crucial role in societies around the world. If Berrett-Koehler is looking to change that world and make it better (and it is my understand that that's exactly our goal), this might be a good track to follow. After all, when creating a world that works for all, you have to take it one day at a time. For most of us, that day begins with a cup of coffee.