Dialogue Magazine: Coffee through a Different Lens
If you’ve ever entered a space where specialty coffee professionals are gathered, you may have noticed something. Especially if you’re a newcomer to the industry.
The coffee world is inhabited by outsiders.
Once you start noticing this, you may even encounter a few jokes about this observation from the very people that inhabit these spaces. And that may be the point at which you wonder (ironically), “Am I part of the club now?”
I’ve found that people in specialty coffee are generally open-minded and accessible (probably because outsiders know what it’s like to experience exclusion). And this makes it more likely that people coming from other industries with a different perspective will find a space for themselves in the coffee world.
Kristin Sandgren-Jolain who launched Dialogue earlier this year had a roundabout way of entering the industry. But her new magazine, which offers an intriguing mix of interviews, profiles, and even poetry centered in specialty coffee, has the clear imprint of an outsider.
Dialogue is the product of a decade-long journey that started back in 2013 when Kristin, who originates from the suburbs of Chicago, started a blog to chronicle her experience visiting coffee shops around the Windy City.
Dialogue Magazine, Issue One
The blog became difficult to maintain once Kristin moved to NYC a few years later to work in fashion as a trained pattern-maker. And while she had decided to work in this industry on the basis of her creative talents, she quickly experienced a harsh awakening: the fashion industry was on a constant, hyper-competitive rush for the bottom line. And no one seemed to want to share information about anything.
“Moving to New York, we just got thrown in. You see the business side. Everything that goes into a collection. A lot of money,” she says.
During her five-year tenure, Kristin started thinking about how she could launch a print magazine (a leap from her blogging days) and escape the fashion world. She explains, “I lost any kind of artistic creative energy in fashion and I needed to channel that again.”
When she lost her job during the pandemic, Kristin walked around her neighborhood to see who was hiring. And found a pie shop that also served coffee. She began working there as a barista which allowed her to delve deeper into the industry, its people and processes. Affording her everything that the fashion industry had kept hidden and made inaccessible to her.
Upon initiating her efforts to launch Dialogue, a name she landed on to encourage conversations about coffee, Kristin says she found support from her creative friends but many other people that she met online and on social media. Including coffee shop owners.
She was even able to connect with one of the co-founders of Solo, a specialty coffee magazine based in Spain that she credits as one of the inspirations for Dialogue.
A feature on White Heron Cafe in Montreal, Canada
The supportive community that she found online also pitched in to fund her Kickstarter campaign.
“The average donation was $50, so nothing crazy. But the amount of people that gave really added up. It was really stressful. And all the people writing, editing, I was constantly thinking about them. And thinking, ‘What if I don’t raise the money?’ But it worked out,” she says.
The resulting product is both artistic and heartfelt. Meditative even. Reflecting on the ways people connect to coffee that go beyond taste profiles, ratings, and other conventional barometers.
A piece written by Kristin herself memorializing Happy Bones, a beloved coffee shop in SoHo, NYC that closed last year, is a standout. A poem written by Darrell Spearman conveys the sentiments of a first sip while stepping out of Gasoline Alley. A feature on White Heron Cafe reveals what it’s like to build community and culture via cupping sessions.
There’s an emotional undercurrent to Dialogue’s first issue undoubtedly. But as Kristin makes preparations for the magazine’s second issue (due next year with plans to publish biannually), she anticipates that each issue will be distinct from the previous one. But still focused on exploring why people are interested and passionate about coffee.
Since the release of the inaugural issue back in April, Kristin has managed to get coffee shops in NYC and beyond to stock the magazine. The sales of which will go toward funding Issue Two.
Kristin is also in the midst of re-routing her career doing freelance work as a creative to be able to devote more time to the magazine. And she hopes to court advertisers and offer sponsored content in the future to reduce fundraising efforts and find a more sustainable way to run the magazine.
At the same time, she’s aware of her past experience and how she got to this point.
She explains, “Thinking about money takes me out of the artistic aspect of the endeavor. The main thing is that I want integrity to stay.”
Kristin at a café in Lisbon, Portugal
Today we’re thrilled to share Kristin’s story and partner with Dialogue to give away a copy of the inaugural issue to one of our subscribers.
To participate in the drawing, enter your name and email in this Google Form through Sunday, July 2.
The winner will be notified on Monday.
Until then, please be sure to give us a follow on IG!
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La Favorita by Good Citizen Coffee Co.
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