The Best of Fresh Cup 2023

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It might sound obvious, but I think the greatest part of my job as editor at Fresh Cup is that I read everything that ends up on our website. The authors we work with have incredible perspectives and important stories to tell, and I always learn something new with every story we post. 

I like this time of year because it’s an invitation to reflect, and somehow, our global team of writers and storytellers have gone above and beyond, and I’m hard-pressed to whittle down all the stories we told this year to a list of ten. 

So here we go—here are some of our team’s favorite articles from 2023, distinct from the top ten most-read stories of the year. And if there’s a topic or idea stewing in your head that you’re eager to tell, please pitch us.   

-Ashley Rodriguez, managing editor

The New Cafe Consumer Base by Haley Greene

If you’ve ever heard the phrase “the new normal” and wondered what the heck that actually means, take a peek at this piece by our resident retail and operations writer, Haley Greene. Greene breaks down how consumer needs and buying practices have changed due to COVID-19 and gives retailers a template to think smartly about adapting to a changing world. 

“If It’s Hidden, It’s We Who Hide”— On Discovering the Potential of Robusta Through Roasting by Mikey Rinaldo 

Mikey writes art. I can’t describe it any other way. They highlight the pressing need to pay more attention to quality improvements of Robusta coffee but do so beautifully with lyrically precise word choices. The writing in this piece feels both essential and poetic. 

Direct Trade via Direct Message: How Instagram is Facilitating a New Kind of Coffee Connection by Fionn Pooler

This story, from Coffee News Club writer Fionn Pooler, starts with a mysterious delivery of coffee beans and unfolds into a story about how social media bridges the gap between roasters and producers. 

A Peek Into Denmark’s Specialty Coffee Evolution by Chloé Skye Weiser

I’m a sucker for storytelling and nostalgia, and this article by Chloé Skye Weiser checks all the boxes and follows the evolution of a highly revered—yet still new and evolving—specialty coffee scene. 

In India, Black Baza Champions Sustainability and Smallholder Farmers by Sohel Sarkar

Many of our stories start with a general premise and then zoom inward, and this incredibly detailed story about Black Baza Coffee in India flips that structure around, using a story of a specific roaster to highlight themes of sustainability and value. 

Let’s Talk About Coffee Certifications by Anne Mercer

Coffee certifications can exist in a murky world, and I don’t think many stories reflect the hard work and pursuit for information and clarity around ideas we sometimes take for granted than this one. 

Op-ed: How Can We Grow Coffee’s Middle Class when Farmers and Baristas are Underpaid? by Jim Ngokwey

This was the first op-ed we ever produced. Jim Ngokwey of Mighty Peace Coffee tackled a critical issue: how can importers and roasters ensure that farmers aren’t just getting by but can make enough to live comfortably? “Despite everything we love about the coffee industry, the system doesn’t work,” he writes, “unless you believe that farmers and baristas are supposed to be underpaid.” 

Leaderboard Brings Coffee Education Right To Your Home by RJ Joseph

RJ Joseph has a knack for covering timely topics that need more attention. This article was part of a three-part series on hybrid events and how event organizers can include virtual elements to increase accessibility and attendance. 

Hospitality Online and In-Person: A Conversation with Aaron Fender of Portrait Coffee by Lydia Stopler

Some of my favorite pieces are interviews and stories where we hear honest conversations between the subject and the interviewer. Aaron Fender owns Portrait Coffee in Atlanta and has invaluable insights on hospitality and community engagement. 

An Homage To Espresso Vivace’s Sidewalk Cafe by Valorie Clark

I often think of the history we lose just because we don’t realize something significant is happening before us. Our resident coffee historian, Valorie Clark, talks to former employees of Seattle’s Vivace Coffee and discovers that, for many, working at Vivace inspired their love of coffee. 

Thank you so much for reading Fresh Cup, and we can’t wait to see you in 2024! 

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Ashley Rodriguez

Ashley Rodriguez is the managing editor at Fresh Cup. She served as the online editor of Barista Magazine from 2016-2019 and is an award-winning beer writer and podcaster. She hosts a podcast called Boss Barista and writes an accompanying newsletter about coffee and service work.

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