Scouring the Globe for the Best Cup of Coffee

To see more photos and videos from the life of a traveling coffee buyer, follow @stephen_vick and @bluebottle on Instagram.

As the buyer for Blue Bottle Coffee’s green, not-yet-roasted coffee, Stephen Vick (@stephen_vick) travels to every corner of the globe. “I use Instagram to document my travels and show interesting, beautiful, quirky things that I see when I’m out in the world,” says Stephen.

It was in 2004 that Stephen began visiting the farms where coffee is grown. With those trips, says Stephen, “came a greater understanding that most of the challenges in producing a quality cup of coffee are hurdles that are faced by the producer,” like shortfalls in knowledge, resources and capacity.

In the past decade, Stephen has visited more than 17 countries in a variety of capacities, from teaching farmers best practices to working on the construction of more economical and sustainable processing facilities. Spending time in remote, tropical areas has also brought the occasional harrowing health experience: “In Northwestern Tanzania I contracted cerebral malaria, had kidney failure and went into a coma.” After a few months, Stephen regained his strength and returned to the work he loves.

These days, Stephen spends about half his time out visiting coffee farms. “My favorite is Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee and the most challenging and rewarding country to source from.”