They offer us a glimpse into worlds that we would not otherwise know. They can tell great stories in a real way, without having to sacrifice audiovisual quality.
From nature documentaries to those with social content, when they are well done, they can be gripping. These are the 10 documentaries about coffee that we suggest you watch.
They are a journey through the world of coffee, from the plant to the cup, that will show that everything is much more connected than it may seem.
As the Chinese proverb says: “The slight flapping of a butterfly can be felt on the other side of the world.”
The first 8 are streaming on most platforms, while the last two you can watch them directly on Youtube for free.
Connected By Coffee (Aaron Dennis, 70 min., 2014)
On a 1,000-mile journey from Mexico to Nicaragua, the film shows how equitable business relationships are helping to empower communities and take a step towards social justice.
Throughout the trip we learn how each cup of coffee connects us in a very real way with those who are most responsible for it: the producers themselves.
The Way Back to Yarasquin (Sarah Gerber, 35 min., 2013)
Her goal is to empower her family and local communities through coffee.
This documentary shows the challenges of coffee farmers in rural areas through a personal story that moves us. It is not a very well-known documentary, but it is well worth watching.
A Film About Coffee (Brandon Loper, 67 min., 2014)
It becomes clear why, when we talk about coffee, we have to differentiate between coffee as a commercial product and specialty coffee.
Through the experiences of coffee growers, roasters and baristas, we learn about all the processes and elements necessary for the coffee to reach our cup.
The documentary is exquisitely crafted and features the participation of legends from the coffee world such as Peter Giuliano, George Howell and James Freeman.
Caffeinated (Vishal Solanki y Hanh Nguyen, 80 min., 2015)
The directors spent several years traveling and recording around the world to document the entire specialty coffee process.
It shows the landscape coffee consumption scene in various American cities and follows Geoff Watts on several of his trips to buy green coffee.
By focusing on the people behind each process, coffee growers, importers, roasters or baristas, they show us the importance of who is behind it.
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Barista (Rock Baijnauth, 104 min., 2015)& Baristas (Rock Baijnauth, 98 min., 2019)
‘Baristas’ (the second) follows four baristas from different parts of the world (US, Germany, Ireland and Japan) in their preparation for the world barista championship.
Both documentaries show the preparation process of these baristas prior to the competition, as well as during the competition. It gives us a behind-the-scenes look at these competitions.
We see what it takes to reach this level as a coffee professional as well as the psychological and physical challenges they face and their passion for coffee.
Visually, especially the latter, are a delight and an entertaining combination of dramatic moments and comedy.
The Coffee Man (Jeff Hann, 85 min., 2016)
It’s the journey of a man with a passion for coffee, from his humble origins in Yugoslavia, to the plantations of Ethiopia, to bring the best coffee to his customers.
The same coffee with which he wins the world barista championship.
Sasa’s personality is electric and his love of coffee contagious.
Shade Grown Coffee (Alexander Kinnunen, 65 min., 2020)
It shows how the cultivation of specialty coffee has a positive impact on coffee growers and the environment in places like México, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panamá, Jamaica and Ethiopia.
Black Gold (Marc J. Francis & Nick Francis, 68 min., 2006)
It is a product subject to speculation, futures sales and other financial products. This has a direct impact on coffee growers in the countries where it is grown, which are usually developing ones.
Coffee can be a tool to create wealth in local communities and help the development of these countries.
But when the farmer only receives three cents for a cup of coffee that sells for three dollars, something is wrong.
This documentary explores the darker side of the coffee trade, how it can be used as a tool for neo-colonialism and how to change this situation so that it benefits the economies of the countries where it is produced.
Flower of Flowers (Greg Hunt, 40 min., 2018)
It shows how coffee cultivation is an intrinsic part of the culture and economy of many regions in Central America and how climate change is affecting them.
This documentary is produced by Stumptown Coffee Roasters and you can watch it online for free.
Coffee Coffee (Jorey Kiva, 10 min., 2016)
It explains why specialty coffee is better, not subjectively, but objectively better, for the palate, the coffee growers or the environment.
It shows the importance of paying attention to taste, details and the connection of consumers and coffee growers.
You can also see it in full on YouTube.
They are not all, there are more and also very good ones, but we believe that these are very worthwhile and provide a comprehensive vision of specialty coffee.
Of course, have your favourite coffee at hand because you will want to have more than one.