9 Questions With Coffee Expert Todd Carmichael

The host of Dangerous Grounds shares his strong opinions on coffee.

Todd holds coffee beans (long shot)

Todd Carmichael is the CEO and main sourcer for his coffee company La Colombe Torrefaction, along with its chain of boutique cafes. A thrill-seeker his entire life, Carmichael ran his first ultra-marathon at the age of 20 and soon after, sailed solo across the Atlantic. In 2008, he set the still-standing world-record for the fastest unsupported trek to the South Pole. In between coffee-sourcing expeditions to some of the most dangerous parts of the world, Todd took the time to share his opinions on coffee.

What’s your favorite type of coffee?
Ahh, lets see, Arabica of typical variety (heirloom) – shade-grown, well-tended and as high as it will grow - major altitude. If I had to pick a country, my heart requires me to say Ethiopia.

What is your favorite and least favorite coffee chain?
You’re killing me here – my preferred coffee chain is Caribou. My least: Dunkin Donuts.

What is your most memorable coffee expedition?
My most memorable was in Ethiopia, in the Djimma national forest with my newly-adopted son, Bek, then 10 months old, on my hip gripping me with his little hand on my T-shirt. We were stuck in Ethiopia together for a month due to his VISA problems, and although I was new to the whole diaper change and baby bottle thing (our three girls were adopted much older), I had decided we might as well use to the time to go on a coffee buy together -- his first.

Do you ever cook with coffee? If so, what?
Yes, I do -- with lamb shoulder, I use it as a rub and it is wonderful. Keep in mind, coffee is a spice. It works really well with grilled lobster, too.

What are some other great uses for coffee/beans?
I once had a coffee cocktail that was out of this world. The guy would not give up the recipe. The coffee berry fruit can be dried then infused as a tea, and is wonderful.

Do you think there's a cup of coffee out there for everyone?
No. There is no one-size-fits-all in the culinary world, or in coffee. There is no one single great flavor to excite everyone. That's what makes it such a wonderful thing to work with.

When did you first discover your love of coffee?
When I left the farms for the big city for university, Seattle was one of the first places I stumbled on. To me, it was exotic and metropolitan. There was a cafe, and that was it. I was in.

Where's the best place in US to get coffee? Outside of the US?
Right now, the epicenter of great coffee has soundly shifted from the Northeast directly over the city of New York. Outside the US, I still believe the best place is Italy. My favorite -- Roma.

What was your first job?
I grew up a farm boy, which for me, meant picking fruit. Strangely enough, it's very much what I still do -- finding great fruit.

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