Scrolling through the thirdwavewichteln hashtag on Instagram and Tumblr or in the Facebook group of the same name, I see packages of specialty coffee continuing to finally reach their intended destinations around the globe.
It is the second time I have participated in the Wichteln, and my parcel containing a bag of Washed Ethiopia Dumerso roasted locally by Coffee Supreme made its way successfully (confirmed via the social media pages noted above) to Bonn, Germany. I may have also thrown in a bag of the same coffee (this time Natural Process) roasted by yours truly — something I wouldn’t probably describe as a “bonus” necessarily, in the hope the recipient might enjoy comparing the two. Thankfully, Facebook tells me both were well received.
In return, I was lucky enough to receive some superb Costa Rican coffee: Divino Niño, from ReAnimator Coffee Roasters in Philadelphia, USA — a little more on this below.
If you have not heard about Third Wave Wichteln, it is a global specialty coffee exchange which occurs each year in December/January, where, at random (after signing up) you are matched with a recipient to send your coffee to, and your name given to another (different) member to receive some in return.
I think most of us know the principle — from Wikipedia:
Secret Santa is a Western Christmas tradition in which members of a group or community are randomly assigned a person to whom they anonymously give a gift … and is known as “Wichteln” in Germany. “Wichteln” is what a “Wichtel”, a wight, does, a good deed.
I wrote a few thoughts down about the nature of the online communities many of us are involved in after last year’s exchange .
Unfortunately for some, the programme does not quite reach a 100% completion rate (now with over 2000 members around the world taking part). Through the vagaries of international postage, customs, and also perhaps a little misunderstanding in some cases about what constitutes an appropriate coffee to send, the Facebook feed is also home to a few criticisms of the programme.
Just a couple of things on this point. There have been some calls within the Facebook group for the organisers to provide the email addresses of the assigned sender to those still waiting, where it appears the coffee is lost or indefinitely held up somewhere.
To their credit, the organisers have repeatedly confirmed they will not take this course of action, citing a priority on members privacy, and reaffirming the programme is based on trust. I applaud them for this stance and strongly agree on both points.
In my view (and yes — easy for me to say having received great coffee each year so far), entering into a programme such as this must be based on giving (isn’t that in keeping with the spirit of the season in the first place?), with an expectation you are more than likely to receive in return.
Whether by global exchange or within your office, we’ve all been the recipient of the random joke. You know, you carefully decide on an appropriate gift for the random pool, and then find yourself on the receiving end of the completely useless novelty shop item meant to give everyone a good laugh. Very unfortunate, but it happens — and bear in mind that was the giver’s intention. In the case of the Wichteln here, I’m sure the coffee was sent with the utmost of good intentions, and for some reason beyond the control of the gift giver, simply never arrives — again unfortunate but hardly the fault of those involved.
I say again — treat the Wichteln as a programme of giving and you really can’t go wrong. Stock up over the holiday season on your favourites, or from roasters you have not tried before and get stuck into enjoying those coffees. If your package from across the world drives? What a bonus, otherwise forget about it and it will be a nice surprise when it does land on your doorstep.
Oh… the coffee itself?
An absolute delight, with some handy advice on brewing parameters from the ReAnimator barista and trainer via Twitter who sent me the coffee as well (thanks again Greg!). Yes — it really isn’t hard to connect with those whom you have sent to, or received from, once the exchange is complete.
The Divino Niño certainly lived up to its promise, a sweet, juicy brew, perfect through the V60, in the Aeropress, and on a particularly hot Brisbane summer day, an iced filter which possibly even outshone the other two. I most definitely consider myself a very fortunate recipient.
If getting involved in something like this is of interest to you, visit the website, where there are some specific, yet straightforward instructions on the type of coffee to send and how to send it.
I’ll certainly be signing up again next December and will be looking forward to sending some coffee to a lucky recipient across the globe — and I’m pretty sure I’ll receive something special in return.