Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Caffeinated: A Watery Brew
least nobody uses the term “shade grown.” Yes, everybody in this film really
loves their joe, but it is almost more for the social activism than the rich,
kicky brew. They are all about micro-crops and fair trade in Hanh Nguyen &
Vishal Solanki’s documentary Caffeinated (trailer here), which releases on
VOD platforms today.
this film could use an espresso shot. The most interesting part is the all-too
brief history of coffee Nguyen & Solanki quickly dispense with. Than a parade
of baristas and the stray corporate rep from Starbuck’s or Illy extoll the
virtues of java. From there, it is off to the remote reaches of the globe that
are suitable for coffee growing: tropical latitudes at high elevations.
after another, we hear hipster roasters wax poetic about their “personal relationships”
with independent regional growers. It is all very nice, but viewers could
probably get more information from a green coffee brochure at Peet’s Coffee.
Nevertheless, it is encouraging to see micro-enterprises like SOPPEXCCA, the Nicaraguan
women’s specialty coffee coop, taste a little bit of success. Unfortunately,
the bigger they get, the greater the risk the Ortega regime will nationalize it
all away from them.
Nguyen & Solanki locked their ode to joe without licensing Bob Dorough’s
cover of “The Coffee Song (They’ve Got an Awful Lot of Coffee in Brazil)” or
his original “Too Much Coffee Man.” There’s no accounting for taste. Still,
they seem leave an awful lot of coffee cultural history by the wayside. One
assumes a great deal of American coffee consumption was established during the
Great Depression, when it would have been the cheapest thing you could order in
a diner, to come in out of the cold, and was solidified by the “Coffee
Achieving” 1980s, but the film never really delves into our national embrace of
In fact, it is rather ironic that Caffeinated celebrates efforts to make
the everyman’s drink (hence the term “joe”) more expensive. Of course, there is
always room for connoisseurship, especially for something as tasty as java.
Unfortunately, the film does not inspire much coffee love. It is just too shallow and repetitive. Easily skippable, Caffeinated
launches today (7/14) on iTunes.
Labels: Documentary, VOD