The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Todd Carmichael (“Dangerous Grounds”)

If you’re a regular viewer of the National Geographic Channel, then you might be familiar with Todd Carmichael for his Antarctic travelogue, “Race to the Bottom of the Earth,” but if you’re a connoisseur of all things caffeinated, then it’s more likely that you’ll know him for La Colombe, a business endeavor which has allowed the entrepreneur to dedicate his life to finding, selling, and – in a few select cities around the world – serving up some of the world’s best coffees. Now, Travel Channel is giving Carmichael the opportunity to show their viewers just how hard he’s willing to work to provide people with the beans to make the finest possible cup o’ joe.

Carmichael chatted with Bullz-Eye about the origins of his series – the cleverly-titled “Dangerous Grounds,” which debuts on November 5 at 10 PM – and how his coffee-hunting adventures have changed since he’s had to start traveling with a cameraman by his side, also offering up a few suggestions of where casual coffee fans can start the process of expanding their palate to more unique tastes. By the way, for the record, Carmichael admitted to being “a little juiced up on caffeine” during our conversation, having just come off a lengthy coffee-tasting session, but as someone who’s perpetually hopped up on caffeine myself, he sounded perfectly normal to me.

Bullz-Eye: First of all, I was able to check out the first episode of “Dangerous Grounds” before our chat, and I really enjoyed it.

Todd Carmichael: Oh, great! That was Haiti, right?

BE: Yep, sure was.

TC: Oh, excellent. Yeah, that was a great adventure.

BE: Well, to jump way back to the very beginning, when did your love of / addiction to caffeine first begin?

TC: [Laughs.] Oh, you know, it’s just like any other addiction: it’s hard to tell the actual moment. But I definitely really remember the first time I said, “Okay, this is what I’m going to do.” But I did it for a different purpose. I was 15 years old, and I was just one of these obsessed little distance runners. It was really distance running that got me to college, to the University of Washington. And I read this article in Runner’s World Magazine at the time, and there was a guy named Bill Rogers, he was kind of like the reigning champion of the Boston Marathon, and he wrote an article about his use of caffeine and coffee and how it affected his running. And, you know, at that time, everyone kind of thought of coffee as a dangerous thing, as if it was like cigarettes or something like that. Needless to say, the next morning I brewed my very first pot…and drank the whole thing. [Laughs.] And I haven’t really stopped doing that since.

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