When I first encounter someone I am interested in talking to, my instinct is to invite them for coffee. Sitting down for coffee with a friend is one of my best-loved ways to pass time. Sitting down for coffee with a new acquaintance is a delight.
When I first formulated the idea of Conversations with Europe, I found myself wondering where, in an ideal world, I would meet my participants and what we would drink. Hence every interview asks the question: where is the best place in Europe for coffee? What would your order?
There are so many options, of course. For me, perhaps it would be in the cobbled heart of Ljubljana where I would sip Kava z Mlekom. Or Kaffee mit Rhum in one of Salzburg’s grand cafes. But then, I have never drunk espresso in Italy. Perhaps that would be the ultimate coffee experience.
It’s not really about the coffee though, or even the place. It’s about the idea. Coffee shared with friends. Common understanding. A time for discussion and debate but always comfortable and companionable. The people I am asking to take part in Conversations with Europe are some strangers, some friends. Some high profile and some unknown. But they are all people I would buy a coffee for and sit and talk to for hours, given the chance.
This is what Conversations with Europe is about. I want to capture this moment in time, this turning point for Europe. But I don’t want to construct a study, conduct a political interview. I want to have a chat with a coffee. Just because most of my interviews are conducted by email, it doesn’t stop us imagining…