The culinary digest releases a limited-edition newspaper of their work, and it goes deep into coffee culture.
BY MARK VAN STREEFKERK
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Cover photo courtesy of Life & Thyme
Culinary publication Life & Thyme has put out a special-edition newspaper dedicated to coffee—and it goes way beyond café recommendations.
Life & Thyme began in 2012 and is a digital platform for “Food Stories for the Culturally Curious”; the site made a glossy splash into the print world in 2015. The magazine lasted for about a year and a half before a bigger opportunity came along; KCET, the PBS affiliate of Southern California, reached out to Life & Thyme to produce a show around food, and what resulted was the Emmy Award-winning series The Migrant Kitchen. Now in its third season, the show focuses on cuisine from what Founder and Editor-in-Chief Antonio Diaz calls the “hyphenated immigrant, which is Mexican-American, Japanese-American, (etc.), all those conversations and that culture is very important to me because I come from a background of immigrants.”
A self-described “survivor of the tech world,” Antonio’s previous L.A.-based creative agency worked with tech companies in San Francisco, but his favorite part about business meetings was prowling the Mission District after-hours for food. “Learning about the food scene in San Francisco kind of pushed me to learn about the food culture in Los Angeles, and I fell in love with it. I fell in love with the opportunity to learn about cuisines, about where the food was coming from, who the chefs were, and that became my white whale. I wanted to learn more about food culture, and Life & Thyme was a creative outlet for that. It wasn’t supposed to be what it is today. It was a side thing to keep myself and some of my friends creatively excited,” Antonio says.
The Life & Thyme Post is a return to print, but instead of a magazine it’s in newspaper format. Antonio says that making coffee the main subject was a natural choice, as the beverage has been the life force of Life & Thyme since its inception. Whether meeting with creatives at cafés in Downtown L.A. or working from home, “if you cut me open, espresso will come out,” he says. In true Life & Thyme fashion, the team didn’t want a superficial treatment of coffee culture, so you won’t find articles about local cafés or roasters. Instead, the newspaper offers a global perspective about topics like coffee rituals around the world, coffee culture in Capetown, South Africa, and Yemen, how climate change is affecting farmers in South America, and the coffee price crisis.
The newspaper is an intentional throwback, an homage to “old-school journalism,” and since the debut paper is all about coffee, it’s naturally meant to be enjoyed at a café. “We wanted these newspapers to be at different cafés all around the country. We have a few copies at La Marzocco, and we sent a batch over to Intelligentsia and Verve, so all these specialty cafés will have a little batch. You’re drinking your coffee, you’re reading the paper, and you’re learning about coffee,” Antonio says.
At Go Get Em Tiger’s most recent grand opening in Downtown Los Angeles, Antonio looked like an extra from the Newsies musical, marking the first edition of the Life & Thyme Post. “We threw one big party,” Antonio says. “(Myself) and two other teammates dressed up like old-school newsie boys. We looked straight out of the 1920s with the hat and the tall socks and suspenders, and it was so much fun. We were just handing out Life & Thyme (Post) newspapers, and it’s a really big newspaper too, it’s not like a tabloid. It’s the biggest broadsheet, you have to do one of those whipping sort of sounds to really open it.”
Antonio is the first to mention that Life & Thyme journalists aren’t coffee nerds, and neither are their readers. They are a team of coffee non-experts passionate about telling the stories of coffee experts to people casually interested in coffee. “We have access to a different demographic,” Antonio says. “We’re not as connoisseur-y about coffee. (Our audience is) not gonna know the differences in coffee flavor from one place to the next. (It) was important to highlight these really important conversations and topics that are being had in the coffee industry, and hopefully we can be a bridge to another audience that isn’t so ingrained in the industry. Most casual coffee drinkers, they probably have no idea that the price of coffee is at such a low point. That $4 or $5 cortado you have every day, you have no idea what’s coming. This entire industry is in jeopardy right now.”
You can get a copy of the Life & Thyme Post by becoming a member through the website, or, as Antonio would delight in, find a copy “out in the wild” at a lucky coffee shop.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Van Streefkerk is Barista Magazine’s social media content developer and a frequent contributor. He is also a freelance writer, social media manager, and novelist based out of Seattle. If Mark isn’t writing, he’s probably biking to his favorite vegan restaurant. Find out more on his website.