John Waltmann is proof that social media is good for more than letting friends know what you’re having for dinner.
Waltmann, 24, is the man behind “It’s a great day for coffee” — a six-month old blog that is already emerging as the preeminent digital destination for local coffee coverage.
The blog, which is updated at least a few times weekly, consists of pithy one or two paragraph posts accompanied by a photograph. The text typically describes a particular drink, impressive piece of equipment or barista technique, but sometimes just characterizes the experience of hanging out at a local coffee shop.
While some posts are critical, Waltmann said he makes a concerted effort to provide positive coverage — a fact not lost on Southwest coffee professionals.
Gordon Bellaver, co-owner of the Bull Run Coffee Bar near 34th & Lyndale, said he’s seen Waltmann hanging out in his shop three or four times since the blog launched and is impressed by his work.
“It’s nice to have someone who isn’t too harsh covering coffee in what can be an overly critical blogosphere,” Bellaver said.
Waltmann — who lives in an apartment overlooking 43rd & Upton and works full time as a barista across the street at the Linden Hills Dunn Bros — uses his social media expertise to publicize the project, and momentum is building.
Waltmann has attracted more than 250 Twitter followers and uses Facebook to promote the blog on an almost daily basis.
Greg Hoyt, owner of the Dogwood Coffee shop at Calhoun Square, said while there are numerous sites like Sprudge.com providing national coverage of high-quality coffees and roasters, the Twin Cities’ thriving coffee scene has been largely neglected.
“I like John’s focus on quality-minded shops and roasters,” Hoyt said. “He seems to be a very knowledgeable coffee person. People are into it — I think all our baristas read it.”
‘I love talking about coffee’
Waltmann has been around coffee his entire life.
His parents were two of the first Dunn Bros franchise owners and ran the location by the Uptown Lunds before moving on to jobs with Dunn Bros corporate. Waltmann himself has almost a half-decade of experience as a barista and will soon be trained as an in-store bean roaster.
Even when he isn’t manning the coffee bar at Dunn Bros, Waltmann finds himself spending a lot of time in local coffee shops and chatting about java with anyone who will listen.
“I get made fun of by my friends for my coffee talks. When I get going, I just can’t stop,” Waltmann said.
Besides his coffee site, he’s got experience in other digital projects. In 2009 he founded an Internet-based clothing company named 2012 Threads and he handles website design for his rock band Four Letter Lie.
Waltmann sensed that a blog catering to the local coffee community might be a hit, prompting him to devote some of his creative energies to getting his site off the ground last winter.
As is the case with most all start-up blogs, Waltmann’s project was born into obscurity. But he used his connections with local baristas and coffee shop owners to publicize his creation, then social media to get the word out to the broader community.
Non-coffee folks have taken notice. After checking out “It’s a great day for coffee,” the owner of Uniquely Yours, a custom jewelry shop located near 43rd & Upton, approached Waltmann about building a social media presence and new website for his store. Waltmann accepted the offer and hopes the skills he demonstrates on his blog lead to other web design and public relations opportunities.
“I love talking about coffee, but I also put the site up to show that I’m knowledgeable about social media,” he said. “I’ve built myself online, more or less, and I hope [the site] impresses people.”
To check out Waltmann’s coffee scene blog, go to itsagreatdayforcoffee.com.