Small Quality-Obsessed Coffee Roasters On the Rise!
Totally Unrelated to Anything. Captain Scarlet.What coffee would the Mysterons drink?
Yawn. Double Yawn. I feel like it’s groundhog day, except this never-ending story is about exciting and fresh-faced coffee roasters who are obsessed with quality and decide to open up shop in NYC, or SF, or some other glamorous place. Never Kokomo, Indiana or Dayton, Ohio. Search “coffee” on the New York Times web site and read the same story, rewritten, over and over. It’s the basic premise of “God in a Cup” the gawd-awful book about personality-driven business. Without any substantial information about coffee itself, these stories are just a new type of consumer fetishism, but instead of being on the scale of the grand corporation they are the “humble neighborhood small-batch roaster” makes good and grows, but darn if they don’t do it in their own anachronistic quality-driven way. No matter how you wrap it, it’s a story about conspicuous consumption, about “where do you get yours?” as if it is a triumph of personal character to know which is the best shop to walk into and ask for coffee. If we substitute “coffee” for “perfume” or “Rolex” or typical, highly fetishized luxury goods, does it take on a new aire? And yet it is the same conversation, but with coffee brands. I am only peeved because each time I see a coffee headline, I hope that it contains some small bit of good information, planting some seed in consumer consciousness to change the way they think about coffee a bit. But I fear what we get, repeatedly in the cast of the NYT, is a basic shopping guide for those who want to be “in the know”. Unfortunately, they miss that coffee itself is more interesting than the business about business, even if you dress it up in trendy fashion. That’s too bad, I think. The odd thing is that these are some really good roasters too, offering good coffee. The roasters they reference and others are worth writing real coffee stories about. Not fluff. -Tom