As it has for centuries, coffee continues to bring people together from all over the world, including here in Portland. The first weekend in October, a group of sixteen Korean coffee professionals is coming to Portland for a tour of the local coffee scene. Sponsored by COFFEE Magazine, based in Seoul, the group is coming to Portland to visit cafés, talk to coffee industry people, and look for ideas to take back to Korea. As I wrote last November, Seoul has one of the fastest-growing coffee cultures in the world, with cafés seemingly everywhere. This is Portland’s opportunity to influence how that culture develops.
(On a related note, today’s Oregonian has an article about the importance of trade with South Korea to the Oregon economy.)
The idea for the tour came from Jinsu Lee, a friend of mine who spent several years in Portland before returning to Korea. He wanted to maintain some ties with Portland, so he approached Mr. Song-dae Hong, the owner and CEO of COFFEE magazine, with the idea of putting a coffee tour together. The proposal received a great response, and sold out. I am in charge of organizing the Portland leg of the tour, which runs from tonight through Saturday. After visiting Portland, the group heads to Seattle to attend one day of Coffee Fest, before leaving for Seoul on Monday.
The group is sticking to a coffee-based agenda while they are in Portland. We have put together a long list of cafés and roasteries to visit in and around Portland, for both casual and educational visits. (If your café is on our casual stops list, I will give you a heads up at least one day before we visit, so you can pass the word on to your staff that a large group will be coming by.) The tour will be a great opportunity to share Portland with others, and should be a fun cultural exchange, too. If you’re sitting in your favorite café and a bus pulls up and unloads a large group of Korean tourists (and one six-foot-four American), come over and say hello!