The latest from PBS's Original Fare, a web series which explores the origins and identities of complex ingredients like wagyu beef and wine grapes, is a three-part investigation of the long journey from coffee bean to cup. Host and co-creator Kelly Cox begins her caffeine-fueled adventure with a visit to a Colombian coffee farm, where she tries her hand at harvesting. She is disillusioned by the economics of the coffee industry (which boasts, according to Cox, the greatest commodity in the world, second only to oil), and the manner in which harvested beans are exported far away from their often humble origins.
Cox's story of coffee concludes with a trip to Birmingham, Alabama's H.C. Valentine, the small-batch roaster offshoot linked to Royal Cup Coffee. She learns the art of blending, and nuances of roasting: "There a difference between roasting coffee and turning beans brown," says the H.C. Valentine roast master. Obviously.
The feel of Original Fare is not unlike that of Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown, but with less alcohol and potty jokes (this is PBS, after all). Even if you're not into coffee, the full episode is an entertaining and eye-opening look into the story of coffee. Watch the part one of the three-part series, above.