Whether it’s the morning paper or a good book, perhaps the best pairing with a cup of coffee isn’t breakfast or a cigarette, but something to read. Adam Goldberg is the founder and editor in chief of Drift, a biannual periodical about “coffee, the people who drink it, and the cities they inhabit.” We caught up with Goldberg to ask him how he makes his coffee and where Drift is going next.
Print media is supposedly dying, but you started a print-only magazine about coffee culture. Why?
We take the experience of reading Drift very seriously, which is why we offset print on thick stock and have run all our issues ad-free. “Print media” is a broad category. The data shows us that readers prefer digesting weekly, and even monthly, periodicals online–I think the online experience is often better for that type of continuously updated content. But the opposite is true for books, for example, where readers still prefer paperback to digital. The e-book market has slowed considerably after the initial excitement. That’s why we chose print. We couldn’t think of a better experience than cozying up with a hot cup of brewed coffee and the latest issue of Drift.
Whether it’s hundred-year-old coffee importers in New York or taxi drivers in Havana, Drift often looks at aspects of coffee culture that extend beyond boutique, specialty coffee. Is that intentional?
We didn’t want to solely tell the story of specialty coffee. We wanted to learn how people–everyone–from a given place enjoys coffee, and use this as a way to get to know the city. There’s no question specialty coffee is better in almost every way: flavor, bean quality, trade transparency, you name it… but outside the coffee shop bubble, most people still don’t drink it. So to omit how most people enjoy their coffee would be to omit a significant part of the culture. This has been important for Drift since the beginning. Even in Volume 1: New York, we focused on street cart coffee and Cuban bodegas as well as the stories of Ninth Street and Toby’s.
So far Drift has looked at New York, Tokyo, Havana, Stockholm, Melbourne, and Mexico City. What drew you to those cities?
It’s a combination of a few factors. We have a running list of cities we feel have either an established or developing coffee culture. We then look at the list and make an assessment as to which city has the best “coffee story” to tell right now. Feedback from our readers is particularly valuable to us. When there’s overlap in the cities readers suggest, we tend to emphasize those cities. It also helps if we have a personal interest in visiting and learning more about the particular city since we spend so much time there putting together each issue. We also try to vary regions so each volume of Drift feels very different from the previous one.
What does your daily coffee routine look like? Do you make coffee at home?
The best coffee is often the most convenient. I make pour-over every morning in one form or another. Currently, I’m using Port of Mokha beans on a Blue Bottle dripper, a ratio of 15.5 : 1. I usually make one 27 g cup in the morning. In terms of volume, I guess I actually don’t drink that much coffee.
Any hints about what the next city is going to be?
We haven’t been back to the US since Volume 1. We are now on Volume 7. Expect a city in the US. We are so excited about this. Pre-orders will start April 1 on driftmag.com.
Photos by Dorothée Brand courtesy of Drift.