The Cretan Coffee Boys

Sotos Michael dreamed of constructing a coffee empire on the ancient Greek island of Crete. The notion that hot coffee is an odd pairing with 100-degree temperatures couldn’t deter Michael. Nor would he be slowed by the adversity of building a business in the midst of financial tumult and social upheaval. For the complete epic have a look at this Fresh Cup article

Fox Fighters

A few weeks ago I rung up Tom Copas to see if I could come to do an interview at his turkey farm. He casually mentioned he was using alpacas to guard the flocks. It was an opportunity too good to miss and I got on a train with just an iphone and a mic. The light was great, Tom was patient and the alpacas behaved themselves. The result is an epic tale of turkeys, alpacas and a battle for farm yard supremacy for BBC online

 

 

Putting the fun back into fitness

A while back I met a rather inspirational woman, Charlotte Roach who was involved in a near fatal accident whilst training with the 2012 Olympic triathlon squad. After a painful recovery, Charlotte went on to found a company which aims to make it fun to get fit. Click here to read the story of Rabble on the BBC website…

Rabble Hunger Games copyright Matt Kaltenborn.jpg

All hail, The King of Acre

My first trip to Israel was mind blowing. Stupendous food, breathtaking scenery and one of the richest histories on earth. When singling out highlights I could have chosen the cool, sophisticated bar scene of Tel Aviv or heady atmosphere of Jerusalem, reverent and dripping in religiosity. But instead I’ve gone for northern city of Acre, one of the oldest civilisations on earth.

Acre is home to some enchanting architecture, both Arab and Jewish and of course, a spectacular array of delicious food. Whether you choose to buy spices and just-caught fish from the market or treat yourself to a seafood feast at one of the best restaurants in israel; Uri Buri, you will not go hungry.

Presiding over this culinary gem of a city is Uri Jeremias, builder, hotelier and self-taught gastronome. With a Santa Claus beard and eye catching choice of shirts, he’s Acre’s local celebrity. If you get a chance to chat to him, do. Fortunately I did get that opportunity and wrote about it in TNT magazine. To read it cut and paste into your browser: http://digitaledition.tntmagazine.com/the-king-of-acre-2/

The coolest jobs

“Greenlanders love ice-cream!” Maik Carretero enthused as he showed me round his ice-cream factory in Greenland’s capital, Nuuk.

Maik was just one of the inspirational characters I met in Greenland. There was also Sara, a dog musher; Nivikka, headmistress of the maritime school and Edvard, an ice boat captain. All of them had a great story to tell for my BBC piece on what I reckon are the coolest jobs in the world.

DCIM101GOPRO

DCIM101GOPRO

Gold, it’s in your soul

In February, a small crew and I were asked to go to Dubai airport to collect travellers’ stories. It was part of the BBC’s Identity Season and we’d be staying there for five days. As well as managing to cobble together this documentary the brief was to come up with a totally original online story. We’d met camel racing trainers from Oman, a trio of Saudi soap opera actors, a family on their first Umrah pilgrimage… you get the picture. But in the end a single sentence won the contest.

At the gate to Lagos I spotted an uber cool young Nigerian family, the Esochaghis. Chatting to mum, Ugochi, it turned out they were coming back from holiday but that wasn’t the only reason for their trip.

“We come here to melt our gold,” she told me. Bingo.

Was it a ‘thing’ or just one family’s tradition? That detail would make the difference between a good story and a fun footnote. On arriving back to the UK, I started my research and it turned out that it’s popular for Nigerians to take their old gold to Dubai and get it made into new pieces. The BBC magazine commissioned me to write this piece on it and the day it went live, it was the most popular feature on the BBC website; it seems that gold still has the power to get into the soul. Ironically I’m allergic to it myself.

The Swedish Coffee Catalyst

The coffee industry has changed immeasurably in the last 20 years. Whilst the west coast of America and Australia can take a lot of credit for this, a big Swede with an even bigger moustache, played a huge part.

A self-taught roaster from Gothenburg he was co-founder of the World Barista Championships. It’s been the industry’s standard setter since its inception at the turn of the millennium and is in a large part responsible for the burgeoning coffee festival scene and the trend for celebrating coffee in a similar way to beer or wine.

When I visited Matts in Gothenburg he was too modest to big himself up, so I’ve done it for him in Fresh Cup magazine

Petra, Jewel of Jordan

It’s a tough time for the wonders of the world. In an age where everyone’s been everywhere, seen everything and got the t-shirt, how do you stand out? You’ve got great weather, beguiling scenery and unique architecture, but you need something extra. How about a film role, a vehicle to show off your best assets? I’m thinking Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, The Mummy Returns and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen…. Step forward Petra, star of all of the above and a hell of a lot more. The ancient site in South West Jordan is a darling of film and TV location scouts and it’s not hard to see why…. To read on, this is the full article in TNT magazine

 

 

Real life Sherlocks

It’s been an ambition of mine since the age of 11 to step inside the mysterious world of Spymaster in London. So when I was commissioned to write this BBC online piece on real life private detectives, that legendary shop was first on the list.  You want a bugging device? They sell it. How about a safe disguised as a Fanta can? No problem. My favourite piece of spy gear however fits firmly into the miscellaneous category – a one man submarine. They’re the kind of items Sherlock Holmes would salivate over but they’re also very present in the real world of private investigators. James Harrison-Griffiths who I interviewed for the piece uses a variety of gadgets to help in his work of re-investigating suicides and following wayward spouses. But any old member of the public can go into the shop for a snoop. I only wish I’d done it earlier.

sherlock pic

Caffeine-fuelled careers

You won’t be earning an investment banker’s salary but making – or rather crafting the perfect coffee can be a career . I interviewed baristas around Fitzrovia in London for this BBC Capital piece and they were really positive about the coffee making scene.

coffee two