MAD is an amazing concept.
Each year the organisation aims to elevate food and drink, with respect to production, preparation and consumption, to a level beyond mere sustenance or hedonic pleasure. These guys want to change the way that restaurants operate and are experienced by the diner. The responsibility of a chef widens to encompass nourishing the patron with better quality produce, a more considered sourcing of sustainable ingredients, creating the right atmosphere for a receptive and discerning crowd, and constructing a balanced meal, both on the ledger and according to the appetites and desires of the customer. Flavour remains a primary consideration, but culture, tradition, history, art, craftsmanship, responsibility, relationships, trust and transparency become equally important.
Now apply this mentality to the consumption of coffee. It is a far cry from viewing a cup of coffee as fuel, medicine, a daily ritual or an addiction. Rather the aim is to sustainably source, thoughtfully roast and respectfully brew coffee so as to share the value of the producer’s work with our customers, who we come to know as friends and whose trust we gain as purveyors of something special (and delicious!). We also want to do so in a non-intimidating, humble and enjoyable atmosphere.
What it means to even be asked to submit coffee for MAD is hard to put into words, but to be chosen to attend for a second year running is something Workshop are immensely proud of. Being able to showcase our coffee at such an event is hugely important, allowing us to discuss the variety and complexity of coffee with advocates of flavour, quality and freshness, however we don’t just want to be selling more coffee to chefs and we were never there to market ourselves in that way. The hope behind the MAD Coffee service is to distance coffee from being merely the finish point of a meal in a restaurant, an end to proceedings standard that leaves an unpleasant taste; rather to promote it as a course in it’s own right, made with an ingredient held alongside those that precede it. Having a champion such as René Redzepi helps but it really is what Workshop and the other roasters attending believe in.
Curating a coffee service at MAD could simply have been providing fuel for the attendees and those working, but that just isn’t the journey these guys are on. They want coffee along for the ride, and we do too. Coffee programme organisers, Tim and Jens, curated and ensured the smooth running of a coffee service to be proud of, for some of the most forward-thinking members of the food and drink community, and boy were we well received.
Thanks for having us, gents.