A Field Guide to Coffee Spanish is the first communication-focused field guide for English-speaking green coffee buyers and Spanish-speaking coffee sellers
BY SARAH ALLEN
The first thing I thought when Andy Newbom told me about the book he co-wrote with Andrew Russo was, why didn’t anyone think of this sooner? A Field Guide to Coffee Spanish, whose Kickstarter goes live today, is perhaps the most important book for the coffee buyers on the market right now.
Well, it’s not on the market just yet, but it will be after a successful Kickstarter campaign, and it’s going to change everything for those green buyers who aren’t fluent in Spanish. The little pocket English-Spanish dictionaries weren’t made for green-coffee buyers. But Andy and Andrew’s book was.
I was convinced of the importance of this book as soon as I heard about it, but my interview with Andy really drove it all home.
Sarah: What was the inspiration for the book?
Andy: The overall inspiration for the book was of course my 14 years in coffee. And it was directly influenced by my decade spent sourcing coffee directly with farmers in several different countries. But the true spark for the idea came on a trip in 2015 to Peru. My wife and I were invited by the Peru government to go on a trade mission to Peru to explore the cpecialty coffee industry there. While there, my first time personally visiting coffee origin in South America, I was struck by the amazing differences in Spanish words for all the coffee equipment, processes and ideas. And as we were driving down a rutted, dusty road in a tiny pickup truck, one of the other coffee professionals in the truck said, œI really need to learn Spanish if I want to buy coffee better. I replied, œI agree, take a course and learn Spanish. But if you really want to get ahead you need to learn coffee Spanish, which is all the technical and slang words in Spanish because they are different in every country. She said, œYou should write a book about that ”it’s really true! And then all of a sudden I realized that was true. And I kept thinking about it. And then wrote about it.
Sarah: So tell me what’s in the book — it is translation of terms for processing, milling, etc. — i.e. specific green buying terms?
Andy: We endeavored to bring a new perspective to talking about countries of coffee origin. Instead of talking about the coffee in each country, we talk about the country itself as it pertains to buying coffee and getting it exported. We have a lot of technical terms, from cupping terms, flavors, processes, etc., that we translate. The bulk of the work involved getting in-country experts in each country to help us give definitions for the key technical terms in each country, not a generic list of spanish words for technical terms. A country-by-country word widget that does mutual translation of the key terms uniquely for each country.
Sarah: Have you found that a lot of green buyers have trouble operating at source without fluency in Spanish?
Andy: Being fluent in Spanish is a crucial benefit for any coffee buyer. You can do it without Spanish (the vast majority do) but it certainly makes it far easier [if you understand the language]. However, we have found that knowing Spanish does not necessarily mean you know coffee Spanish. Technical jargon, slang, and commercial language is complex and often defies literal translation.
Sarah: Is the content of this book applicable to every Spanish-speaking producing country? What about cultural differences between countries?
We have experts in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru
Sarah: Who is your target audience? I assume it’s green buyers, but anyone else?
Andy: It’s geared towards green coffee buyers and roasters who want to communicate more clearly with green coffee sellers in order to more effectively convey their desires and requirements for relationship, process, and quality coffee, and in order to get the coffee they want to their roastery. Spanish-speaking coffee sellers benefit as well, since each country has a dedicated Coffee Spanish to Coffee English word widget that provides simple and clear translations of coffee technical terms and slang. Not a lowest common demoninator-esque high level approximation, but a country by country breakdown of key terms in Spanish and English. It should prove highly useful for anyone who is in coffee and wants to learn more about the origin side and learn the language, lingo, slang, and phrases we all use and confuse, whether you buy coffee or not. It is focused on improving relationships between coffee professionals on both sides of the buyer/seller connection.