S2 Episode 16: International Podcast/Coffee Day

S2E16 Cover Art

This weekend is incredibly special: yesterday was National Coffee Day and the 7th Anniversary of BoiseCoffee.org, today is International Podcast Day, and tomorrow is International Coffee Day! This week’s episode discusses each of the holidays, as well as some of the defining moments of BoiseCoffee.org over its history.

Show notes:

Enjoy your weekend!



Episode Transcript:

Hey everyone, and welcome to The Boise Coffee Podcast. I’m your host, Colin Mansfield, and today is a super special day for anyone who loves podcasts – whether you’re someone who listens to them, or someone who makes them. Today, the day this episode is being released – October 1st – is International Podcast Day.

BUT if you’re a coffee lover, there’s something else that’s special about this weekend. Yesterday, September 29th, was National Coffee Day in the United States and a few other countries around the world. Hopefully you were able to get out into your communities and enjoy some free coffee. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE – Tomorrow, October 2nd, is another day dedicated to coffee lovers – it’s International Coffee Day. I’ll talk more about that in a bit.

If all of these national and international holidays weren’t enough, this weekend marks another special milestone for me – on September 29th, 2009 I started BoiseCoffee.org.

So, to review:

September 29th was National Coffee Day, and the 7 year anniversary of BoiseCoffee.org

September 30th is International Podcast Day

October 1st is International Coffee Day

If you think these holidays sound a little made up, you’re definitely not alone. According to CNN’s article about National Coffee Day 2016, it was created by “internet sages and the arbiters of faux holidays.” The crazy thing is that variations of National/International Coffee Day have been celebrated in various countries around the world since as early as 1983 – the All Japan Coffee Association was apparently the first to promote it. Usually coffee celebrations fall at the end of summer or beginning of autumn, though in some countries – like China, Portugal, and Denmark – it’s celebrated in April and May. The United States seems to have landed on August 29th as it’s not-really-official-but-widely-agreed-upon National Coffee Day. International Coffee Day, on the other hand, didn’t get an official date until last year – from here on out it will be on October 1st, annually.

National Coffee Day is usually celebrated by both chains and local shops by handing out free – or heavily discounted – cups of coffee. All the chain coffee companies get involved: this year you could score free coffee from Dunkin Donuts, Krispy Kreme, and Peet’s Coffee. Starbucks opted out of giving away free brews this year, instead using National Coffee Day as a platform to promote the fight against the coffee rust problem impacting farmers around the globe. For every bag of their Mexican Chiapas coffee sold, Starbucks is donating a rust-resistant coffee tree to farms in need through a company called Conservation International. Pretty awesome.

International Coffee Day is a little different. Last year, the International Coffee Organization (an organization that was established in 1963 in collaboration with the United Nations) official established International Coffee Day as a yearly celebration that happens on October 1st. It’s a lot less nebulous of a holiday – there’s a dedicated website where coffee shops from around the globe can submit their events and specials. There’s a great map where you can scroll around the world and see all the cuppings, barista competitions, and celebrations that are happening everywhere. You should really check it out – visit internationalcoffeeday.org. A cursory glance of their events page shows specials going on in Argentina, Honduras, Greece, Poland, Spain, Malaysia, and Kenya. Many U.S. shops are participating too, so be sure to move the map near your hometown to see if you can score a special.

In my hometown of Boise, Idaho, and the other cities close by, several local coffee shops got involved for both National and International Coffee Day. Flying M, a popular downtown hangout spot, offered a free 8oz coffee in the morning hours on Sep. 29th. Guru Donuts, a newer establishment that locals love, flipped the formula a bit and were offering a free cake donut or vegan mini raised donut with any coffee purchase on the 29th.

Two other awesome local shops are continuing their deals on International Coffee Day (that’s tomorrow, if you’re losing track). Coffee Studio in Meridian, Idaho (near the corner of Chinden and Locust Grove) is giving away a free 12oz latte to anybody who comes in and says the phrase “where love and locals meet.” Awakenings Coffee House (on the corner of Five Mile and Overland) has a similar deal: walk into their shop and say the phrase “The birthplace of coffee is Ethiopia” to score a free 16oz cup of black drip. So many secret phrases! If you’re a Boise local, rewind the episode now and write them down – there’s no excuse on missing out on free coffee!

Alright, so now that you know the differences between National Coffee Day and International Coffee Day, as well as where to look to find the deals, let’s talk a little about podcasting.

Today is International Podcast Day, and it’s being celebrated by listeners and creators around the globe. How’d it get started? According to the official website, internationalpodcastday.com, in the summer of 2013 Steve Lee (founder of Modern Life Network) heard a radio announcement for National Senior Citizens’ Day. He thought that was pretty cool, but it begged the question of why wasn’t there a day to celebrate podcasting. Steve got to work, and by 2014 the first Podcast Day was established – and it was a huge success! To help get the rest of the world involved, it was rebranded as International Podcast day the following year.

International Podcast Day focuses on promoting podcasting worldwide through education and public engagement. Tons of shows are participating, making today possibly the best day to discover shows that you’ve never heard. One easy way to do that is to hop on Twitter and search for #podcastday. For show creators, this is an opportunity to score new listeners, and share the love by promoting other programs that you love. I’d like to take this opportunity to recommend my favorite shows, which I will do in no particular order. I selected these shows based purely on my regular listening habits, and can tell you that all of them are excellent both in content and production quality.

This American Life is possibly the most famous podcast out there, and for good reason. It’s a weekly program put out by NPR that is narrative and reporting driven. It focuses on stories from people like you and me, and each show has a theme that ties those stories together in some form or fashion. The great thing about This American Life is that it’s not always strictly tied to current events – for example, there have only been a handful of episodes talking about the election over the past months. I’ve found that it can be a breath of fresh air when the rest of the media is covering the latest scandal or inflammatory comment.

Next, if you’re a fan of campfire stories and haunted houses, I recommend checking out Lore. It’s a bi-weekly show about the frightening history behind common folklore. The host, Aaron Mahnke, doesn’t do any interviews or have any guests on the show – in many ways, the episodes are closer to chapters from a high-quality audiobook. I started listening to Lore around Halloween last year, and I can tell you that there’s no better way to get into the spirit of ghouls and vampires than by having someone tell you that maybe, just maybe, those fictions are based in fact.

If you like pop culture and stories about the internet, I recommend listening to Reply All, a podcast put out by Gimlet Media. Actually, all of Gimlet’s shows are great, but Reply All is a legacy show that’s been around for years. The hosts, Alex and PJ, explore the weird world of the internet and tell stories in a way that’s palatable and interesting for just about anyone. They’ve dug into questions like why can’t anyone in NYC get Verizon FIOS internet despite all the advertisements plastered on every corner? The answer is a lot weirder than you might think.

If you’re a religious person, or a person who’s tired of religion, give The RobCast a listen. It’s a weekly podcast put out by author and former-pastor Rob Bell. Rob has written some amazing books like “Love Wins” and “What We Talk About When We Talk About God.” He’s both artist and speaker, but approaches the deepest questions about life in a way that’s simultaneously respectful of all belief systems, and challenging to the very core. His episodes are usually short and to-the-point too, making them the perfect companion with your morning commute or Bible study.

Finally, my list wouldn’t be complete unless I highlighted another great coffee podcast. Coffee Podcast by Cat & Cloud is an informal, excellent show put on by Jared Truby and Chris Baca. These guys first met at the Western Regional Barista Competition in 2006, and by now have essentially assimilated into a single entity known as “Trubaca.” Chris is a three-time U.S. Barista Championship Finalist and Regional Barista Championship winner. Jared was a finals in the U.S. Barista Championship, and took first place in the Western Regional Barista Championship. Both of these guys know the craft of coffee, but neither of them are snobby about it.  The show is super laid back, with enough California charm mixed in to make you wish you were hanging out with these guys sharing coffee notes.

As I mentioned earlier, September 29th marks the 7 year anniversary of BoiseCoffee.org. In this last portion of this episode, I’d like to take a minute to reflect on why I started Boise Coffee to begin with, and a little about how it’s evolved over the years.

In 2009 I was working at a local drive-thru coffee shop in Boise, Idaho called Oasis Coffee. Dutch Bros. had recently secured itself as a popular to-go alternative to the traditional coffee shop experience, and the shop I worked at was very much a small, local representation of that same vibe. Because of this, we were constantly looking to draw business to our shop in unique ways. If you remember, this was right about the time that Twitter was establishing itself as a large-scale social network (in many ways on-par with Facebook), and I began developing a social media strategy that included tweeting out daily discounts and a Facebook page that was focused on bringing in new customers. I had one other idea on how to branch out and possibly bring new faces to our coffee stand – blogging. The problem, as I saw it, was that there was a limit to the amount of content I could produce having to do with our one shop. It would essentially turn into another version of our Facebook page, and that wouldn’t really help.

I ran over this idea in my head for several weeks, then talked to my dad about it. He suggested that I was thinking too small – and he knew that my interest in coffee had grown significantly since working at Oasis. He encouraged me to start a blog, but rather than writing about one coffee shop, I could use it as a platform to talk about all the coffee shops in and around Boise. I sat on that idea for a little bit, turning it around in my mind, then decided to go for it. On September 29th, 2009 I wrote my first post.

Over the next several months I used Boise Coffee as a place to review local coffee shops in the Boise area. I hit up most of the popular places, practicing my writing and learning the right ways to give good reviews, and the wrong ways to give bad reviews. I’m sure many of the coffee shop owners weren’t really sure what to do with a high school kid pretending to know something about coffee, but then again this was back when nearly everyone seemed to have a blog and an axe to grind. At one point I was allowed to sit in on a local planning meeting for a popular coffee shop in the Boise area – it was then that I found out I had a long way to go before having a sliver of knowledge about what it truly   takes to run a coffee shop.

In June 2010 I graduated from high school and left Boise to attend the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY. I took a hiatus from the blog for several months, then returned with a renewed desire for learning and writing about coffee. This was the first major transition for BoiseCoffee.org – I bought the domain name, redesigned the blog, and shifted focus. I knew that reviewing coffee shops in-person wasn’t an option anymore – my demanding school schedule sucked away any hope for free time to explore the East Coast, especially during my first years at West Point. Instead, it occurred to me that asking local roasters and shops from around the country to send me samples of their coffee to review was my best option – I had done it once before while in Boise, and decided to give it a try again. This turned out to be the single best decision I could’ve made – I soon found out that many shops are eager to get their beans reviewed and all the free press that comes with that. I started receiving a lot of free coffee – sometimes by the pound – and quickly became known as the coffee guy to my new friends at West Point. People made light-hearted jokes, but would never turn down a free cup when I offered.

Other funny experiences came out of this time as well – I did research into Keurig and found out how destructive their products are for the environment and coffee culture in general. When my friends caught wind of this, pranks ensued. K-Cups found their way into my desk, my packages – even my senior year yearbook. Despite the teasing, I still managed to convert a few friends into the wonderful world of specialty coffee.

After graduating West Point and commissioning into the Army, BoiseCoffee went through its next big transition, and you’re listening to a result of that. Last summer I started The Boise Coffee Podcast, and it’s been an amazing ride. I did an entire episode and blog post about the lessons I learned from this first year of podcasting, and I encourage you to listen to that if you want a look behind-the-scenes of what it takes to make this show. Podcasting is a labor of love, and I’m incredibly proud of the results so far.

I’m not sure exactly what the next stage of BoiseCoffee will look like. I do know that the podcast is a lot of fun to make, and I don’t intend on stopping anytime soon. I’d like to put a little more emphasis into my writing – some stories lend themselves better to the written medium than to audio, I think. I’ve found that while I enjoy reviewing coffee, my favorite part about creating new content is finding the history and stories surrounding coffee. There’s a good chance that you’ll see more of that, with less of a focus on reviewing individual roasts. That said, I’m always open to returning to my roots.

I’ll wrap up by saying this: the best thing about coffee, as far as I’m concerned, is that it brings people together. If you do nothing else this weekend to celebrate International Coffee Day, I invite you to take a friend out to your local coffee shop, sit down, and have a conversation. Talk about anything – talk about everything – just connect. Use coffee as an excuse to share some time with a friend – that’s the heart behind these holidays.

As for the podcasting piece, I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode! If you are an avid listener of podcasts, I’d love to hear about your favorite shows. Shoot me a tweet – my handle is @BoiseCoffee – and let me know how you’re celebrating International Podcast Day. If you’d like to listen to previous episodes of this show, you can find The Boise Coffee Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud, and my blog – BoiseCoffee.org. Thanks for listening, and have an excellent, coffee-fueled, podcast-filled weekend.