Roast! West Coast
Coffee People
Coffee People: James Harper, Filter Stories Podcast

Coffee People: James Harper, Filter Stories Podcast

“If nothing else, I had a good cup of coffee today”


Guest: James Harper
Role: Creator, Producer, Talent of Filter Stories Podcast
Based: Berlin, Germany
Online: • @filterstoriespodcast • Apple • Spotify
What they order: Cappuccino, or ask the barista, “What’s good?”

I first learned of the Filter Stories podcast when we were both included in Barista magazine's Four Coffee Podcasts Worth Hearing column. My initial reaction was, Wait? What? Are there other coffee podcasts?

Just kidding. Still, Filter Stories was new to me, and I binged the first season in an afternoon. James takes a narrative deep dives into the history, science, and culture of coffee. On the surface, the show is about coffee, but James also uses Filter Stories as a means to understand the world. He immerses listeners in the worlds he explores, which are often the more complex corners of the coffee world. Enjoy the pod.

“If nothing else, I had a good cup of coffee today”
• James Harper


  • When tasting coffee ask the question: Can you taste the difference? If not, it doesn’t matter!

    • If so, what is the difference? Are you able to quantify it (flavor, bitterness, etc)?

      • Does the difference improve or limit your appreciation and enjoyment of the taste?

  • It’s pretty effing cool that we were able to connect across the world over a shared interest in coffee. Drinking coffee is akin to traveling the world.

  • He began his career in finace. It was the traditional family path, but his work wasn’t offering him the fulfilling feeling that he felt was out there, and just maybe attainable.

    So he quit and hit the road, literally, in some cases, traveling by motorcycle across India despite having never ridden one before.

  • Coffee became his new focus. Barista jobs were hard to come by. He spent time working for a corporate coffee business in Australia before moving to Berlin to work for a well-known roaster. Eventually, he felt the need to connect with the stories behind the coffee he was describing and selling to customers.

  • Inspired by NPR and the BBC style of narrative podcasting/storytelling, James bought some audio gear and booked a trip to Guatemala to begin his coffee podcasting journey.

  • Music is how James identifies with the world creatively. He creates the piano music used in the podcast.

  • Lesson: Trust but verify. Some commonly passed along coffee techniques or truths have had context (sometimes disproving context) provided in his interactions with scientists. Remember, not all things are set in stone. In coffee, as with all things, there is a bit of a grey area where anecdote has been just as influential as science.

  • Learning more about coffee can help elevate your personal experience of coffee.

  • The next time you’re in Berlin, James recommends that you check out The 19grams Cafés.


  • I saw this column in Food & Wine recently proclaiming, “…Licorice Is Coming For Your Coffee…” And I thought, What? Why? Read the article on

  • I’ve been sitting on this Drink Coffee, Do Stuff video for a minute. Besides the coffee and the outdoor adventures, DCDS is trying to keep their Lake Tahoe region clean. Shout out to former Coffee People guest Nick Visconti.

  • In today’s Coffee Has Health Benefits* news, the Washington Post published a column proclaiming that coffee may reduce your risk of diabetes. In particular, due to the presence of chlorogenic acid.

One of the most potent and abundant polyphenols in coffee is chlorogenic acid, which has been shown in some studies to improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control. Chlorogenic acid and other polyphenols in coffee help to reduce inflammation and increase the production of proteins involved in repairing and protecting cells and their DNA.

Studies indicate that these effects occur in organs throughout the body, but in particular in the liver and in the beta cells of the pancreas, which produce insulin and play a critical role in the development of Type 2 diabetes. According to Kolb and his colleagues, habitually drinking coffee probably lowers the risk of diabetes because it helps to prevent the deterioration of liver and beta cell function. Read the column on WaPo here.

*It certainly benefits my mental health, but that isn’t based on scientific study. Just my self-regulation of annoyances when I do or do not have my morning cup.


Check out the most recent episode featuring Jared Hales, Co-founder of Hacea Coffee Source.

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Shout to Roastar for inviting me to join them at Coffeefest NY. It was great to connect with old friends and new.

A huge, on-going thank you to all of this show’s industry partners. Click these links!

Roastar • Zumbar Coffee & Tea • First Light Coffee Whiskey • Steady State Roasting • Mostra Coffee • Coffee Cycle •  Camp Coffee CompanyIgnite Coffee Company • Ascend Coffee Roasters • Marea Coffee • Cape Horn Coffee Roasters • Hacea Coffee Source • Crossings Coffee • Acento Coffee RoastersSivitz Roasting Machines • Craft 42 Roasters • Me and My Uncle Coffee Roasters

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The new Norah Jones album is a great way to work into the day.

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