Third Wave Wichteln 2015

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Image courtesy Third Wave Wichteln

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.

Bon(n) voyage!

Bon(n) voyage!

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.

2016-01-18 tww_reanimato frontIn 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?

2016-01-18 tww_reanimator_backAn 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.

2016-01-18 tww_iced_filterThe 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.

Third Wave Wichteln and Global Communities

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Although I previously linked to this global coffee exchange initiative in one of my recent Wiser Web Wednesday posts, as I near the end of the bag of superb Kenya Sukari AB coffee I received from Germany, I thought it worth adding a little more to the story, and how to me, it illustrates a degree of change in how we are now able to interact with those across the other side of the world.

Third Wave Wichteln

I first came across the concept only this year, through an Instagram post of a barista friend of mine who was planning on participating in Third Wave Wichteln.

To recap briefly, you sign up to the programme, send a bag of specialty filter coffee to your randomly assigned receiver, and in turn, you will also receive the same, from a randomly assigned giver (Wichteln being the German word for Secret Santa).

IMG_3307After signing up, and selecting International as the destination category I was willing to send to1, it was simply a waiting game until the email popped into my inbox in early December with the recipient’s name and address.

Germany it was. So after selecting a suitable filter coffee from a local speciality roaster with the most recent roast date I could find, it was off to the post office. Customs declaration filled out, postage paid (a very reasonable $AU18.00 for 3-10 day delivery; closer to 10 if not beyond I’d imagine) and Godspeed I bid the package as it commenced its journey.

Not long after, I received my own Christmas surprise, which originated from Germany, with a great letter from the sender inside, providing some background, tasting notes and photos, (including the roaster himself) — a pleasant surprise indeed.

Whether or not you agree with my thoughts below, this is just a fantastic way to try some different coffee, is easy to do, and adds to the spirit of Christmas – I loved it, and encourage you to check out the site for details come November next year. Don’t worry – I’ll remind you.

Breadth of Community

IMG_3388Probably the main thing which struck me about this initiative is the extent to which those with common interests can so easily now interact — irrespective of global location (yes, not new to 2014/15, but new to the last decade at least). The internet brings with it many things, both positive and negative, however it cannot be denied it brings opportunities of this nature not before seen. If not in idea, then certainly in scale, ease and degree of interaction between those participating.

Third Wave Wichteln and all it brings can be followed on Tumblr, or through the thirdwavewichteln hashtag on both Twitter and Instagram, with the Instagram tag now boasting 963 posts at the time of writing.

It can be argued if we are talking “community”, then a global internet based one, despite the physical giving and receiving of this particular initiative, may be wide though not necessarily deep. True, however is it not an example of the very nature of real-life human social networks — that is, a small number of very deep social connections, and as the radius of the network increases, the connections tend to run less deep.

From the site:

In times of the Internet and global connection we don’t have a bowl or hat where we put our names in — we do the Wichteln digitally. Therefore we created this page. And then we bring it back to the analog world: the exchange.

So, I’d like to think that each year, the tweets, Instagram posts and emails will go out again, more people will sign up, and the global coffee gift exchange will continue, with even more great coffee flying across the globe, and more worldwide touch points for but one of the many communities the internet has helped foster and expand.

Here is the link again for your calendar or task manager.

  1. Mind you, the thought also crossed my mind as to the possible cost of shipping a 250g bag of coffee internationally. Obviously not something that would break the bank, however I had not looked into this prior to making the commitment to send internationally.