How I got the nickname “CoffeeKid”
Because I love and heavily support the Coffee Kids charity, through social media and the CoffeeGeek.com website, many people assume my coffeekid name I used in past email, for my personal coffee site and a few other places comes from that involvement.
That’s not true at all.
What is true is this: I did discover the fantastic charity Coffee Kids because of a nickname I had already earned online. So how did it happen?
Back in the mid 1990s when I first got online, I discovered usenet newsgroups very early on. You may (barely) know of them now as “Google Groups" (since Google embraced Usenet groups back in the early 2000s and tried to "webbify" a text messaging bulletin board service). I quickly gravitated towards three groups: van.general (which was a bulletin board service for Vancouver), alt.photography for my photography passion, and alt.coffee, for, natch - coffee.
When I first started participating in alt.coffee, I used my real name (Mark) or a nickname I barely maintained from university: spikeguy. It was quite obvious though from my early days I was one of the youngest guys in the forum - most of the participants were in their mid-late thirties or older. I was the young one of the group, and some members took to calling me kid.
Fast forward a year or two, and I more or less became “coffeekid” in that usenet group. And I registered the coffeekid.com domain name to host a new coffee fan website I was designing. I also had a coffeekid username on a few mail services. By 1999, I was “CoffeeKid” online.
It was around that time that someone pointed me to another Coffee Kids… a charity that did great community work in coffee producing nations in Central America. They had also been around for almost 10 years at that time, but only recently had gotten online and a web site.
The more I learned about Coffee Kids, the more I was kind of upset that I was using the name “CoffeeKid” online. I didn’t want to steal any thunder from the organization. I didn’t want people to think I was the charity. I didn’t want people to be confused. But by this time, my CoffeeKid name online was well established (I had registered CoffeeGeek.com but not done anything with the website), and my CoffeeKid.com website was increasingly popular (I got a “Yahoo Cool Site of the Week” badge in 2000 ;)).
What I did was I got in contact with Bill Fishbean, the founder of Coffee Kids. I explained my username. I explained my worries. And Bill was awesome about it all. Not only was he okay with me still using the moniker online, but I got a chance to get to know a truly fantastic, selfless person, and he really introduced me to the charity and gave me the impetus to help the charity.
Soon after, I started doing a variety of fund raising efforts for Coffee Kids. Which I continue to this day.
I’ve explained in a variety of places (on CG, on CoffeeKid.com, in twitter, etc) about my CoffeeKid name vs Coffee Kids, but I wanted to take another opportunity to tell people about it. I still use CoffeeKid as a name in a few places online, some I cannot give up for logistical and historical reasons. But I do want to make it clear again: while I support and do independent fund raising for Coffee Kids, I am not affiliated with them in any direct way, and my CoffeeKid moniker online is just a coincidence.