Josh Littlefield Embarks on the Great American Coffee Tour

Josh Littlefield
Many of us fantasize about quitting our job, throwing a bag in the back of a truck, and café-crawling our way around the country. Josh Littlefield is actually doing it. The former New York-based barista is spending the next year sipping his way around the 48 contiguous states, and he’s got a website to prove it. We got a chance to ask Littlefield a few questions about his journey before he debarked on the Great American Coffee Tour earlier this month. 
What inspired you to quit your job and go on a nationwide road trip centered around coffee?

The specialty coffee community has been a welcoming home for me over the last 4 years. From NYC to New England, at competitions and all over the country, so many folks I’ve met have been just wonderful. This seemed like a perfect time in my life where I could take some time to do this. I’ve been saving for the last year and the time is finally here! It’s my chance to connect with those folks and showcase all the great things they’re doing at their home shops! I’d also like to create a platform that is approachable for the general public. I’d love for folks to check out this project who have no idea what specialty coffee is all about and introduce them to this crazy world we work in!

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Where were you working before?

Joe, Intelli, Seven Stars, Irving Farm, a mobile coffee truck, kinda everywhere! I was also managing back of house production for Spring Street Social Society, a dinner club, cabaret, social club thing in NYC.

Before working in coffee you went to culinary school. How does that affect the way you approach coffee?

Good job Detective Butterworth! Surprisingly, I’d say in noticing the importance of workflow. I’ll be pretty honest, the basic techniques of cooking really aren’t that difficult. (NOT baking, that is actually very difficult!) The real thing that sets cooking in a commercial kitchen apart from a hobbiest is your work flow, your preparation, your ability to make 10 or 100 dishes in a row, having them be identical and not making a massive mess along the way. I’ld say that leads into coffee. You need to be a master of preparation, aware of what your equipment can and can’t do and have a expert understanding of your ingredients. Have all the refractometers, scales and shiny things you want, at the end of the day it’s two ingredients: coffee + water. A deep understanding of the whole process, the ability to make 100 coffee’s identical, tasty and keeping it tidy in the process? That’s where it’s at, yo.

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Tell us about your travel plans. How are you getting from point A to point B?
I just grabbed a 80% functional 1997 Dodge Dakota off Craigslist. It appears the last owner had a run in with a tree and it kind of shells like cheese, but I think I can have it in pretty solid shape before my start date. Mechanically I believe its solid and I’ve got high hopes it will make it up, down and all around until it hits the West Coast.
What cities are you going to?

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Oof, a whole bunch I’m pretty much hugging the east coast, starting in Portland, ME, all the way down to Florida then working in a up-and-down pattern until finishing in LA.

Is there still time to book for a guest shift? How does one do that?

Yes! Yes! YES! I’ve pretty much only planned the route, I’m now in the process of coordinating guest shifts with folks. Please shoot me an email, I’d love to work with you!

How can our readers follow your progress?
I’ll be posting on my website- greatamericancoffeetour.com. It’s going to be pretty varied, lots of coffee shops, regional food and an interview here and there with the people I meet. If you want to be in the know be sure to subscribe to the weekly newsletter, Facebook page and Instagram will be the most frequently updated.
 
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What’s next after the tour is over?
I’ve always been very methodical with planning my career choices. 1-year, 2-year plans, I’ve always had them so for this I’m intentionally leaving my post trip plans wide open. I’m excited to see where this project leads and I’m going to let whatever happens happen! Coffee/Taylor Swift 1989 World Tour? Possibly…..

6 thoughts on “Josh Littlefield Embarks on the Great American Coffee Tour

  1. love the article and the project, but someone needs to spend more time with the proofreading of these things.

  2. Josh…if you haven’t already planned this, you should make a stop to Cleveland and try Rising Star Coffee… Best coffee in the city!

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