- Created: Friday, 25 May 2007 14:18
- Written by colin newell
In the Spring of 1994 a website went on the air. At the time it was more about testing some new technology in a very new environment. They called it the World Wide Web. 13 years later, the web has gone from a curious fascination to a phenomenon that is as much a part of our daily life as the telephone or microwave oven.
That website was called espresso.ts.uvic.ca and its only content was a small review of local cafes in Victoria. It ran on a PC in my office running Windows 3.11 for workgroups. You would be either very old or very geeky to even remember what Windows 3.11 looked like. It wasn't pretty.
Within one year that small website out grew its PC based home and migrated downtown to a local ISP called Islandnet. As you can see, we are still with them.
So. What is 13 years in internet time and what have I learned from all of this? I mean, who would dedicate a decade to something as off-beat as a website dedicated to cafe culture... and why?
The why of this question is easy.
In an average month, this website gets over 40,000 unique visitors a month. That is everybody in your town stopping into this virtual space... every month. In a year that is almost 1/2 million souls. In 13 years, by my calculations, over 4 million people have stopped in for a quick cuppa coffee information.
On any given day I get between 10 to 20 e-mail from people I have never heard from before or met. I answer pretty much everything. It is good karma. The mission here has always been to educate, inform and encourage. There have been challenges from time to time. We get the odd nasty person or odd ball but this has become increasingly rare. People have actually become nicer over the last decade... and I honestly do not know why.
People keep this website going. Whether it is the dozen regular writers and semi-regular contributors to the forums and the hundreds of semi-regular e-mail correspondents - the coffee website thrives on people power.
Imagine spending 13 years studying the subject of cafe culture and specialty coffee... without so much as a weekend or two away from it. Imagine doing that with any subject. One would think that every corner and crevice would have been covered by now.
Truth is, I do not work directly in the field. I work at a local University in an entirely different field. I depend on the feedback of the readers to alert me to all the things that are missing... the holes in my knowledge base if you would.
And there most certainly are more than a couple of big holes in my knowledge about coffee.
So I keep going... and studying it. Reading. Travelling. And talking to the movers and shakers in the biz.
In the last 5 years alone I have met a staggering number of brilliant people that know this business, this passion, inside and out. Inventors (Like Alan Alder of Aeropress Inc), business owners like the Piccolo brothers of Cafe Artigiano and Alistair of the Elysian Room, executives from within the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of Canada), a variety of people from within the Canada specialty coffee associations and so on.
In 5 years I have seen both coasts of North America and a myriad of cafes in between.
The common theme. People, people and more people. And great coffee.
I figure in the next ten years or so, i should have it all down pat. That is, if nothing changes from this point on.
There is little hope in that.
The Universe, after all, abhors a vacuum - one either evolves with the times or fades away.
So here at the CoffeeCrew website we hope to change with the times. We are doing a serious upgrade in our camera gear and lighting to improve the overall quality of equipment reviews. Our writers, spread out around the country as they are, are poised to ride yet another wave of growth in the specialty coffee sector.
We are there. On the front lines... reporting it to you, our readers... the best way we know how.
Thank you everyone. And enjoy the next 13!
Thank's Dave in Ottawa. Dave in Vancouver. Adam in Victoria. Sara in Toronto. Frederick in Montreal. Glenn in Waterloo. Bob in Los Angeles.
Colin Newell and his intrepid cast of caffeinated enthusiasts roam the streets of your city looking for an honest cup of good coffee.