Tamper Tantrum Lands In New York for its First U.S. Edition

New York City was the site for Tamper Tantrum’s first ever United States event, featuring talks  on a variety of coffee topics.


What started as a way for two friends to chat about some of what interested, challenged, and excited them about coffee has turned into one of the greatest thought platforms in the specialty-coffee industry: Tamper Tantrum.

Conceived and run by longtime coffee comrades Steven Leighton of Has Bean and Colin Harmon of 3FE, Tamper Tantrum started life as a regular series of recorded chats, monthly conversations between Colin and Steve, with guests and collaborators sitting in and speaking up. The podcast lives and thrives on, now complemented by a series of international programs that bring together speakers from the international specialty coffee community, inviting them to take the floor and present their thoughts and ideas to an audience of thirsty listeners.

The author (pictured above) kicked off Tamper Tantrum with a talk about ambition.

This past weekend, after seven years of hosting live programs throughout Europe and Asia, Tamper Tantrum had its first U.S. event, one which I was not only lucky enough to attend, but honored to be a speaker, as well.

Held at the spanking new Taylor St. Baristas cafe in Midtown Manhattan, Tamper Tantrum New York City was an intimate and energized addition to one of the most broad and forward-thinking forums we have as a professional group. My fellow speakers were Colleen Anunu from Fairtrade USA; coffee marketing guru Jenn Chen; Matt Perger of Australia’s Sensory Lab and the site Barista Hustle; Royal & Design’s Michelle Johnson, author of the The Chocolate Barista blog; and Wrecking Ball Coffee’s Nick Cho ”a diverse lineup of committed, passionate people, who brought that passion and fearlessness to the stage (well, it was kind of a stage) for a full day of talks.

Michelle Johnson is a designer and writer, and talked about
Michelle Johnson (far left) is a designer and writer, and talked about ways in which the speciality coffee community can be more inclusive.

Each presenter had roughly 20 minutes at the microphone, accompanied by slides and images that illustrated their points or shared specific information. I started the day by speaking about Ambition, challenging the ways that we reward and/or limit the success of our peers in the industry. Michelle was next up, and she focused on breaking the homogeny of specialty coffee by “Laying the Groundwork for Diversity,” offering keen insight into the ways that specialty can open itself up to a range of people of different races, classes, genders, etc. Jenn finished up the morning with a stirring talk built on anecdotes that illustrated various power dynamics in coffee, for better or worse. After our three talks, Colleen joined us for a sort of panel discussion that got pretty deep rather quickly: An audience question about coffee’s role in the gentrification of urban centers inspired a lot of very animated back-and-forth, and raised questions about our intent as an industry and as business people.

Most of the speakers strayed away from coffee-specific topics, and instead focused on issues within the coffee community of diversity, innovation, and how we know what we know in coffee.
Most of the speakers strayed away from technical  topics, and instead focused on issues within the coffee community of diversity, innovation, and how we know what we know in coffee.

After a lunch break generously hosted by the staff at Taylor St., and caffeinated by coffee sponsors Counter Culture, Madcap, Intelligentsia, Noble Tree, NEAT, and Irving Farm, we were back at it with the afternoon’s presentations, kicked off by Matt Perger ”speaking about something rather unexpected. His talk centered around our inability to know what we don’t know as an industry, and explored the various biases we have which prevent us from excelling at the rate we should as professionals. Colleen stepped up next, bringing down the house with a conversation about certifications, traceability, sustainability ”and real talk. How can we know what “fair” is, she asked, when we actually have no collective idea what green coffee costs? We think we know, but do we? Finally, Nick Cho closed out the presentations with an argument in favor of institutionalized education for coffee professionals, as well as some real-life examples of the kinds of study and work those graduates should be able to expect from such a revolutionary new institution.

As the final speaker, Colleen Anunu of Fair Trade USA pushed attendees to reconsider what quality means.
Colleen Anunu of Fair Trade USA pushed attendees to push beyond quality when thinking about coffee.

Following the speakers, Steven, Colin, Nick, and Matt joined each other on stage for a live debate about barista competitions, including live audience voting! Producer and all-around organizational wizard, Tamper Tantrum’s project manager Jenn Rugolo, pitched in to make the debate and everything else flow smoother than a washed Yirgacheffe, and the day ended with the reveal of the debate results ”but I won’t spoil it for you, because the program was recorded and will be available for watching (and re-watching, and re-watching again) soon.

Tamper Tantrum’s next live events will be in Estonia during the Roaster Guild of Europe Event (Oct. 6 “8) followed by a presentation at Cup North, the Manchester Coffee Festival, in Manchester, U.K. (Nov 5 “6).

For tickets, more information about past and upcoming events, and videos of the past Tamper Tantrum speaking events, visit www.tampertantrum.com.

erin-meisterErin Meister (you can call her just œMeister ) has always led a kind of weird, caffeinated double life. As a coffee professional, she’s been a barista, retail manager, wholesale-support representative, and educator; as a journalist she’s written and/or edited work for The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Serious Eats, Saveur.com, andEvery Day with Rachael Ray magazine ”as well as the gem you’re holding in your hot little hands. These days she can be found selling green coffee for Café Imports, riding her bike around the beautiful Twin Cities, and finally (finally!) taking a break from blogging. You can email her at meister@justmeister.com.

About Ashley Rodriguez 413 Articles
Ashley is the Online Editor for Barista Magazine. She's based in Chicago. If you want to share a story or have a comment, you can reach her at ashley@baristamagazine.com.