Who is Ed Berman?
Ed Berman is a man obsessed with ritual. He makes a chemex twice a day, every day (the first when he gets into the office and the second after lunch); he reads and writes (he’s a lawyer but really thinks of his vocation as the dissection and incantation of words); and if you don’t spot him in Illovo on a Thursday night with a beer (black label or craft) and camera (Sony RX-100 or Nexus 6P) in hand, something terrible has happened. It recently occurred to him that he measures his life by the repetition of good experiences. The act of crafting the current moment has become his ritual, and this is what makes him tick.
What is your best childhood memory?
I have been lucky enough to have been born a twin and so I have had a best friend since the womb in the form of enthusiastic Joburg-based coffee anthropologist Abby Berman. It seems strange to say but I don’t have one “one” single defining best childhood memory – all I can attest to is that Abby was definitely there.
If you had a chance for a “do-over” in life, what would you do differently?
Part of growing up is living your life outside of others’ expectations for you and this took me longer than I would have liked to realise. I’ve only recently started living a truer life and while it’s better late than never, I do wish I had learnt this sooner.
What do you feel most proud of?
I’m proud to be Jewish (let me explain). In May, I travelled with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee to the Philippines. This organisation is the word’s largest Jewish humanitarian aid organisation and does a lot of work in Jewish communities but also in non-Jewish communities in Haiti, the Philippines, Nepal and approximately 70 other countries. The JDC responds to natural and humanitarian disasters as part of the Jewish idea of “Tikkun Olam” which means “fixing the world”. I visited communities that had never met Jews and had no connection to Jews but were being helped by Jews for no reason other than Jews felt that it was their responsibility to help others for no ulterior motive. It was the proudest moment of my life to realise that when I go about my day, there are people in the world doing good things for others in my name sake, just because this what it means to be Jewish.
If you could only keep three possessions, what would they be and why?
Let’s just go with one – my Mazda MX5.
What do you want your tombstone to say?
He lived his true life.
What’s your favorite kind of coffee, brew method or coffee origin?
Because coffee making is a ritual for me, its chemex and aeropress all the way and I enjoy it more when I make it then when it’s made for me.
In which coffee shops are we likely to bump into you?
You are likely to find me at Father Coffee or The Grind ZA in Johannesburg, at Toby’s Estate, Makati City in Manila, and at La Colombe in New York City.
What does a perfect day look like?
My perfect day would involve waking up in a city that is not my home before sunrise, walking deserted streets, watching the city carefully as it slowly wakes itself up, followed by my morning chemex ritual, after which I would explore a place I have never seen, take some photos, write something in a note pad (probably a haiku), drink a beer slowly, drink another, have a conversation with someone from a different walk of life and then share a meal with a stranger in a rooftop bar, tasting a new food for the first time while watching the sun set.