Today, we launch a blog series on the specialty-coffee industry’s most innovative podcasts! First up: Cat & Cloud
BY ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE
It’s impossible to ignore the popularity of podcasts. Since NPR released its long-form suspense narrative, Serial, podcasting has become a popular way for consumers to absorb information and learn about topics they like. You can find podcasts about a number of different subjects and genres, so naturally there are a number of relevant shows about coffee, from those geared to sporadic coffee drinks to serious coffee professionals. What’s fascinating about the latter is that there have been more than a few well-made and interesting coffee podcasts on the air years before shows like Serial made podcasting mainstream.
I listen to hours of podcasts a day. If I’m doing anything that doesn’t require sharp focus, I can usually be found streaming old classics like This American Life or other weirdly specific shows like Gilmore Guys(two guys give an episode-by-episode account of the mildly popular early 2000s show and it is constantly brilliant), and I was intrigued to explore how coffee podcasts came to be and why those that started them chose to do so.
In this series, I interviewed a number of coffee leaders who started their own podcasts. I’ll attempt to explore what about this medium allows a different perspective of coffee to emerge and how podcasting can be used as a tool to distribute information to baristas all over the world.
In 2006, a barista named Chris Baca from Ritual Coffee in San Francisco decided to enter his first barista competition. At the Western Regional Barista competition, he met Jared Truby, and from there began a coffee partnership and friendship that would expand over the next nine years. Baca and Truby (as a duo they have been affectionately referred to as Trubaca) have worked together on a number of projects, and have recently started Cat & Cloud, a multi-faceted website with coffee at its core meant to serve as a launching pad for a number of creative projects. One of those projects is a coffee-themed podcast, and I was lucky enough to talk to Chris Baca about the podcast, his past forays in the blogging world, and where the name Cat & Cloud comes from.
Ashley: You guys first ventured into the coffee media world by starting a blog. Why initially did you guys decide to start blogging? What information were you hoping to share?
Chris: We first started blogging for fun, to do video work, and share ideas. We made up this drink called the 1&1, did some crazy shirts, and it wasn’t uncommon to see a dance video from Jared…all things we wanted to share. It’s changed a lot since 2010 and we are now focusing more on philosophy and the craft of coffee vs. the slightly more random fun and goofiness of the old days. We also felt that there was a void in the specialty coffee industry for honest feedback, reviews, and ideas and we hoped we could provide a bit of that. We wanted people to see specialty coffee in a light that was fun and approachable.
Ashley: What were your initial blogging goals, and are those goals the same as those of the podcast?
Chris: We want to encourage people to follow dreams, and we want people to be in coffee because they love it. Hearing other peoples struggles and stories is inspiring for us – realizing that the leaders of our industry are just normal people who are willing to go for it is a message we want to spread. No one is a hero and there’s often no definitive “best way” to do anything…we celebrate challenging conventional ways of thinking and stepping outside the box for solutions.
Community also means a lot to us. We want to get to know industry leaders, who they are, their takes on all things coffee, and share these viewpoints with everyone. We’ve always put a high value on the open and honest exchange of ideas, and this is something that will be at the forefront of any project we do.
Ashley: What can you do with a podcast that you couldn’t do with the blog?
Chris: Get tone and real moments to happen organically. You can really feel the personality of our guests, and the interaction between the two of us on the fly makes for fun times. We can also take serious subjects and make them more approachable.
Ashley: How does this fit into the overall Cat & Cloud business/brand you’re trying to create?
Chris: Cat & Cloud is a creative brand. It’s a catalyst for us to express all of our creative urges through coffee preparation, roasting, consulting, video work, making apparel, etc. We genuinely love expressing our creativity in multiple ways. Cat & Cloud is our outlet to do all of those things in the way we believe it can be done best…and the most fun. If anyone wants to check out what we’re up to they can head on over to catandcloud.com to stay in tune.
Ashley: The first two podcasts have been interview-style–is that the platform you plan on continuing with?
Chris: We will continue to grow and adapt like we always do. We will tweak. We plan to interview but also to speak on topics as a duo, answer questions we get in emails or as blog comments, and review products and coffees with guests. We want to keep it fresh so really the only thing you can count on is that we will talk about coffee and have a blast doing it.
Ashley: Who is your target audience?
Chris: Anyone who is interested in coffee at any level and wants to be entertained. We want solid content, approachability, and entertainment to all come together for the full trifecta.
Ashley: Who do you hope to interview and how will you determine what type of guests to invite?
Chris: We want to interview everyone from industry leaders down to production baristas. We have interviews coming from Brent Fortune, Tonx, Alex Littlejohn, Frank La, and Julia Mayer, with many more in the pipeline. We are currently based in Santa Barbara and are being produced and supported by our great friend Patrick Melroy and his label: Pullstring Press. But we are also working on mobile set up so we can go to industry events and get more guests on the fly and do some live podcasting.
Ashley: How do you prepare for an interview and do you have ideas of what topics you want to address?
Chris: We really want to know peoples’ life journey, as well as their thoughts on coffee. We have questions pertaining to what we think we know of these people and then we let it organically go from there. Sometimes we get to all the questions and sometimes we don’t. In a perfect world you feel like you know our guests; even if you’ve never met them.
Ashley: What have you learned just from the first initial podcasts you’ve made?
Chris: Too much freestyle doesn’t work. We will continue to structure broadly to improve flow for the listener . Also, the more you do it the less nervous you feel.
Ashley: Why the name Cat & Cloud?
Chris: Our great friend Julia Mayer drew a cartoon interpretation of us as a cat and a cloud in 2010. We used that same drawing for the logo on all of our Trubaca stuff. Jenni (Chris‘ wife) coined the Cat & Cloud name based on the drawing and it stuck. We’ll still keep the Trubaca branding around for some of the more crazy, edgy stuff we do!
Ashley: Who designed your logo and mixed your intro music?
Chris: Julia Mayer of the French Press gets full credit for the logo. Our friend and accomplished home barista Mike Rezendes made the music ”they are beats from his album: theAnalogREZolution. Patrick Melroy at the Pullstring Press does the production work and editing. He has a great podcast called Towned, and has been our podcast mentor. We have a couple of episodes on his podcast that you should listen to as well. We’re sure we still have some kinks to work out so bare with us everyone!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ashley Rodriguez thought that she’d take a break from teaching middle school science and putz around in a coffee shop for a few months. She ended up digging it way more than teaching (and was vaguely better at it). After spending 5 years making coffee in New York, she now works for Sightglass Coffee in San Francisco.