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Coffee or Die’s Best Photos of 2020

December 31, 2020Coffee or Die
2020 best photos coffee or die

At Coffee or Die Magazine, we believe deeply in the power of images. Our team of multimedia journalists is full of passionate truth seekers who work hard to get up close and personal with our subjects as much as possible in order to create immersive narratives. We are photojournalists, filmmakers, and writers, but more than anything, we are storytellers.


The year 2020 was full of conflict and strife. We suffered through a pandemic that radically transformed our way of life and claimed the lives of far too many. We saw nationwide protests against police brutality, devastating wildfires, and other natural disasters — all in the midst of a polarizing election cycle.


These and other issues often felt like an endless onslaught of negativity, and while we can’t say we’re sad to see 2020 go, our team at Coffee or Die is proud that we were able to put boots on the ground to report on some of the year’s definitive stories and capture some light and beauty beyond the darkness. Here’s a collection of some of our favorite frames made by our staff in this unforgettable year.


Sourcing Great Coffee in Guatemala  


In February, Coffee or Die Magazine Executive Editor Marty Skovlund Jr. traveled to Guatemala with leaders from Black Rifle Coffee Company in search of great coffee. He found a beautiful country with a rich culture and inspiring people.


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A barista showcases the variety of coffee beans available in her shop in Antigua, Guatemala. Photo by Marty Skovlund Jr./Coffee or Die Magazine.

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David Carmichael, a cinematographer for Black Rifle Coffee Company, sips the last of his coffee. Photo by Marty Skovlund Jr./Coffee or Die Magazine.

A coffee farmer in Guatemala smiles for the camera. Photo by Marty Skovlund Jr./Coffee or Die Magazine.

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A coffee farmer in Guatemala prepares to haul coffee cherries back down the ridge he picked them on. Photo by Marty Skovlund Jr./Coffee or Die Magazine.

Military Free Fall School


In March, Marty Skovlund Jr. traveled to the US Army JFK Special Warfare Center’s Military Free Fall School in Yuma, Arizona, where special operations service members are taught how to get to the battlefield clandestinely and safely to conduct operations against America’s enemies.


A military free-fall school instructor stands on the back ramp of a C-27 cargo plane. Photo by Marty Skovlund Jr./Coffee or Die Magazine.

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A military free-fall school instructor prepares to exit the aircraft with a student. Photo by Marty Skovlund Jr./Coffee or Die Magazine.

A military free-fall instructor for the Advanced Tactical Infiltration Course prepares to conduct a High Altitude, High Opening (HAHO) military free-fall operation. Photo by Marty Skovlund Jr./Coffee or Die Magazine.

An aircraft full of military free-fall jumpers taxies onto the runway at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona. Photo by Marty Skovlund Jr./Coffee or Die Magazine.

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Military free-fall instructors descend back to earth after a successful jump alongside students. Photo by Marty Skovlund Jr./Coffee or Die Magazine.

Minneapolis Protests


Coffee or Die’s Joshua Skovlund reported on the ground in Minneapolis as protests and riots erupted after video of Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck emerged. Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police May 25 sparked nationwide protests.


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Minneapolis police officers near the 3rd Precinct protecting a fire truck during the rioting after George Floyd was killed. Photo by Joshua Skovlund/Coffee or Die Magazine.

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The Auto Zone in Minneapolis burned after riots erupted. Photo by Joshua Skovlund/Coffee or Die Magazine.

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Officers of the 3rd Precinct in Minneapolis on top of their building. Photo by Joshua Skovlund/Coffee or Die Magazine.

Portland Protests


Coffee or Die’s Ethan E. Rocke covered the protests in Portland, Oregon, over the summer. The city became a cultural flashpoint amid ongoing protests for racial justice after George Floyd was killed in May. Protests often turned violent as right- and left-wing demonstrators clashed, and Rocke reported in August on the lives impacted by a tragic encounter that left one protester dead.


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A Portland police officer is framed by a protester’s sign as he looks out at a sea of protesters June 7 outside the Multnomah County Justice Center in downtown Portland. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

Protestors gathered outside the Multnomah County Justice Center in downtown Portland June 7. Photo by Ethan Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

Protestors outside the Multnomah County Justice Center in downtown Portland June 7. Photo by Ethan Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

Friends of Aaron “Jay” Danielson, who was murdered by Michael Forest Reinoehl during a protest in Portland Aug. 29, discussed the details of the shooting as they gathered at their favorite bar. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

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Friends of Aaron “Jay” Danielson, who was murdered by Michael Forest Reinoehl during a protest in Portland Aug. 29, share a tearful embrace as they mourn their friend at their favorite bar Sept. 4. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

Seattle’s Capitol Hill Occupied Protest


Coffee or Die’s Ethan E. Rocke reported from the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest June 12-13 in Seattle. The CHOP came to a peaceful end June 24 when CHOP leaders declared an end to the autonomous zone experiment. The announcement came in the wake of multiple shootings inside the CHOP.


A protester inside the CHOP June 12. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

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Protesters established the CHOP after taking over the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

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A protester inside the CHOP poses for a photo. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

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A “people’s assembly” inside the CHOP June 13. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

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Counterprotesters who flew an American flag inside the CHOP (middle) were escorted out of the area. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

Protesters inside Seattle’s CHOP June 13. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

2020 Lightning Challenge


In October, Coffee or Die’s Marty Skovlund Jr. and Ethan E. Rocke traveled to Fort Hood, Texas, and Reveille Peak Ranch in Burnet, Texas, where two-man teams of the best Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) specialists from across the Air Force gathered to compete in the 2020 Lightning Challenge, a weeklong competition to earn the title of best TACPs in the Air Force.


A member of the 9th Air Support Operations Squadron participates in a demonstration of TACP capabilities as part of the closing ceremony of the 2020 Lightning Challenge on Reveille Peak Ranch Oct. 30. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

A TACP specialist competes in a dynamic shooting exercise on day 4 of the 2020 Lightning Challenge. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

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Competitors in the 2020 Lightning Challenge tackle The Weaver obstacle course at Fort Hood, Texas. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

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TACP specialists prepare to step off on a three-hour night land navigation course near Burnet, Texas. Photo by Marty Skovlund Jr./Coffee or Die Magazine.

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A TACP specialist takes the Marine Corps Combat Fitness Test during the 2020 Lightning Challenge. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

A competitor on day 2 of the Lightning Challenge at Fort Hood. Photo by Marty Skovlund Jr./Coffee or Die Magazine.

TACP veteran and Black Rifle Coffee Company co-founder Jarred Taylor visited competitors at the Lightning Challenge. Photo by Marty Skovlund Jr./Coffee or Die Magazine.

A TACP specialist prepares to step off on a land navigation course at Reveille Peak Ranch in Burnet, Texas, during the 2020 Lightning Challenge. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

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TACP specialists plot navigation points before stepping off on a night land navigation course at Reveille Peak Ranch in Burnet, Texas, during the 2020 Lightning Challenge. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

A range cadre member speaks with a TACP specialist on the night land navigation course at Reveille Peak Ranch in Burnet, Texas, during the 2020 Lightning Challenge. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

Veterans Hunt in Montana


In November, Ethan E. Rocke joined 16 other military veterans in eastern Montana for a Veteran Dual Skill Acquisition Camp, an inaugural event hosted by Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA), a nonprofit committed to preserving North America’s outdoor heritage of hunting and fishing in a natural setting through education and advocacy on behalf of wild public lands and waters.


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Matthew Carlock, right, mentors Patrick Nofio while hunting mule deer and whitetail Nov. 9. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

Former motor transportation Marine Steve Houghton listens to a campfire discussion Nov. 8. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

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Base camp at BHA’s first Veteran Dual Skill Acquisition Camp Nov. 9. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

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Tyr Symank, a member of the Washington National Guard, in eastern Montana’s backcountry. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.

Veterans warm themselves and listen to campfire discussions during the cerebral portion of the camp Nov. 8. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine.


Coffee or Die
Coffee or Die

Coffee or Die is Black Rifle Coffee Company’s online lifestyle magazine. Launched in June 2018, the magazine covers a variety of topics that generally focus on the people, places, or things that are interesting, entertaining, or informative to America’s coffee drinkers — often going to dangerous or austere locations to report those stories.

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