Since his doctor persuaded him to reduce caffeine consumption, Carmichael is down to about 10 espressos and four French presses a day.
“It used to be obscene,” he tells Zap2it. “I would have to not tell people the exact number because I was embarrassed.”
His consumption, though, and his passion for coffee make Carmichael the ideal host of the eight-episode show, as he travels to Haiti, Bolivia, Borneo and Madagascar in search of the perfect bean.
As co-founder and co-owner of La Colombe Torrefaction, which imports coffee and has seven cafes in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and South Korea, Carmichael notes how the perfect cup of joe enhances any meal but stands alone so well.
“Coffee and conversation around the table,” Carmichael says of one of life’s simple pleasures, “dark and thick and as much caffeine as you can possibly get into it.”
In the pilot, it’s clear Carmichael — the world record holder for the fastest unsupported trek to the South Pole — likes a challenge. In Haiti’s warmer climes, he talks an old coffee farmer into allowing him to sample his crop.
Carmichael travels with a portable lab and roasts, grinds and boils coffee.
Anyone who understands how delicious a strong cup of black coffee is, and how it complements a meal or brings people together to talk, will find something in this show and be enchanted by his eloquence discussing coffee.
“African coffees are an acidic coffee, like fruit,” he says. “They have a place. There is something about the roundness in the Haitian, more about the cup together with The New York Times, with a nice song playing in the background.”
He came by his love of coffee and adventure naturally. In college, Carmichael worked for Starbucks, hauling sacks of beans.
“I was a farm boy,” he says of his youth outside of Spokane, Wash.
“At the beginning, it was like coffee chose me,” Carmichael says. “And later on in life I chose coffee.”
What are you currently reading?
“I just was reading a collection of adventure stories put out by Men’s Journal that my wife gave me a couple of days ago, of extreme travel.”
What did you have for dinner last night?
“Injera, Ethiopian food, tibs — squares of beef seasoned with berbere. Doro wat (chicken).”
What is your next project?
“I am interested, now that there is a quasi-cease-fire, in Colombia; Colombia is necessary. Half the coffee-growing region has been off the table for so long. I am eager to get back there.”
Where did you go on your last vacation?
“Very simple: St. Bart’s. I take my family every year.”