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This Grassroots Coffee Secret Santa is Into the Thousands

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This is the third year of the Third Wave Wichteln, a completely grassroots Holiday season roasted coffee exchange program that is extending coffee gift-giving into the thousands for coffee-curious people throughout the world.

Loosely translated, Wichteln is short in northern Germany for Secret Santa. The simple concept is as follows: You register, and in doing so pledge to send some other Wichteln participant a bag of freshly roasted, high-quality coffee; You receive an address, and mail the coffee; then you receive coffee from a fellow Wichteln participant.

The Secret Santa-like concept was created by three German friends —Markus Reuter, André Krüger and Thorsten Keller — who in 2012 set up a simple Tumblr page to help like-minded coffee folks from throughout the world connect and explore great new coffees. Reuter told Daily Coffee News that the program grew from 360 participants in year one to more than 1,500 participants last year — a number that has already been exceeded in 2015. (Participants must register by Monday, Dec. 7 to get in on this year’s Wichteln.)

This year’s program includes a fancy new responsive website that provides all the pertinent details and instructions, and the TWW team has attracted sponsorships from companies including U.S. scale-maker Acaia, coffee wares maker Acme & Co., German coffee lifestyle magazine Standart, and German design firm Present Progressive. Maintaining spreadsheets for thousands of Wichteln participants does take time and energy, after all.

With the incredible growth and enthusiasm behind the seasonal program, the TTW team plans to further its community-building efforts through additional coffee-related events such as cuppings, barista competitions and coffee film screenings. Local events following last year’s program included cuppings in great European coffee cities including London, Berlin, Hamburg and Paris. Reuter said the team is also planning to organizing public talks based around the concept “connecting the coffee world,” from production through to the cup.

For more, check out the Third Wave Wichteln website.

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