Takeaways

1

Kevin’s career in coffee started in 1991 with his newsletter, Coffee Companion, which was the first publication focused on sharing knowledge with coffee consumers.

2

Kevin parlayed that success into his Coffee Companion blog and two books: Great Coffee and The Art and Craft of Coffee

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3

In 2012, Kevin hosted the first CoffeeCon—a festival designed specifically for coffee lovers; in 2023, the event had more than 3,000 attendees.

Kevin Sinnott

Creator and Host of CoffeeCon

Expertise: education, coffee brewing, coffee media, coffee trends, author

Coffee insight: When David conducted his own research into coffee consumer trends at major chains, he found that 80% of coffee drinkers added at least one ingredient to their coffee, whether that was milk, a milk alternative, or sweetener.

Coffee fun fact: Kevin is a graduate of the Players Workshop of Second City.

U3 Top 3 What’s your favorite brewing method? siphon What’s your coffee drink of choice? washed How many cups of coffee do you drink a day? 3

Kevin’s Coffee Origin Story

Kevin started his career in entertainment and video production, including making award-winning comedic training videos in the early 1990s. When he lost his job, he met up with a friend to nurse his wounds over a cup of coffee. After giving his friend a full taste-profile analysis of the coffee they were drinking, Kevin’s friend suggested he try his hand at writing about coffee. “He said it, I think, kind of sarcastically,” Kevin recalls, “but I went home that night and I wrote about 10 articles.”

He formatted it as a newsletter he called Coffee Companion and shared it with his friend. “He took this newsletter, and he sent it to USA Today with a Post-It note on it that said, ‘This is my friend Kevin. He likes coffee better than sex.’” USA Today highlighted Kevin’s work in a blurb—which led to 10,000 requests for copies!

Kevin’s Current Role

Kevin parlayed his successful Coffee Companion newsletter into a long-standing blog. Today he’s written two highly regarded books for coffee drinkers—Great Coffee and The Art and Craft of Coffee. He’s also produced a web series,Mission Coffee Can, about the students behind the North Central College Coffee Lab.

In 2010, Kevin had an idea for a festival celebrating all things coffee. While there were numerous trade shows geared toward the coffee industry, there wasn’t anything specifically for coffee consumers. So Kevin developed plans for the first CoffeeCon—an event designed to give coffee lovers a chance to gather, learn about new companies and taste their coffees, attend seminars focused on things like different brewing methods and grinding tips, and celebrate all things coffee. His first event drew in 1,000 attendees; this year, CoffeeCon welcomed more than 3,000 coffee connoisseurs!

Check out our interviews from CoffeeCon 2023 on our Coffee Shorts page!

What Fuels Kevin’s Work

Kevin says that what he loves most about coffee is that every cup is bound up in the human connections it fosters. “It’s very important to have the right person to [drink coffee] with. I think that makes so much difference to me. I always remember my favorite cups of coffee first and foremost by who I had it with, and I wanted to stress that in everything I’ve done with coffee.”

What Kevin Wants Coffee Drinkers to Know

Kevin wants coffee lovers to feel empowered by how much control they have over the taste of their favorite drink. “Brewing,” he says, “is as important as anything you can learn in coffee, far more important really than learning how to roast or learning how to choose coffees.”

He says that the person brewing coffee—whether that’s a barista in a coffee shop or a coffee lover brewing a cup at home—has greatest influence over the taste of the end product. As Kevin puts it: “Your job as a consumer, as an end user, is really to know how to take these little beans and turn them into this beautiful elixir with a certain viscosity, a certain taste, a certain acidity, a balance of flavors and extract that all into one cup.”

How Kevin Cultivates Community through Coffee

Kevin wants CoffeeCon to continue to be an experience that brings people together around their shared love of coffee. He hopes attendance will continue to grow; his goal is 5,000 attendees, though he admits that his wife, Patricia (who is also one of CoffeeCon’s board members), would like to reach 10,000. But he also wants attendees to know that CoffeeCon is really their event; in fact, last year Kevin transitioned the organization into a not-for-profit. “I want the consumers to own it in the spiritual sense,” he says. “It should be their show. It’s for them.”

Where You Can Find Kevin

Coffee Companion: coffeecompanion.com

CoffeeCon: https://coffee-con.com/

YouTube: @Coffeeists

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