Small Quality-Obsessed Coffee Roasters On the Rise!

[caption id="attachment_765" align="alignnone" width="388" caption="Totally Unrelated to Anything. Captain Scarlet.What coffee would the Mysterons drink?"]Totally Unrelated to Anything. Captain Scarlet. [/caption] 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

[quote comment=""]Great post.

[quote comment=""]Great post. I feel the same way about the NYT's coffee reporting.[/quote]
I can think of quite a few stories that are very, very relevant to readers. How about "updosing", the fact that a blue bottle or others use 40+ grams of coffee in a filter drip which is about 175% over the standard. If people are buying roasted coffee to take home, and not getting the same cup they serve in the cafe, maybe they would like to know why! Updosing means more caffeine, and a coffee that holds up better in milk drinks or when cream is added to brewed coffee, but in itself is (IMO) defective in the cup. Too strong coffee is bitter, sickeningly syrupy, plus it gives me a headache! It's also less sweet than correctly brew ratios where you hit 19-20% extraction of soluble solids. Anyway, a brew article like this would be interesting on several levels without being technical.

Great post. I feel the same

Great post. I feel the same way about the NYT's coffee reporting.

Ok--Thompson Owen: Get on the

Ok--Thompson Owen:
Get on the soapbox. Tell us the story you would like to see printed. I for one would happily read it. I would imagine the Bay area would pick up that story if you so desired it to--and then why not...the NYT? We look to you for this leadership.

[quote comment="18486"][quote

[quote comment="18486"][quote comment=""]My area(Conn. River Valley MA.) has been aggressively restoring local farming for the past 20 years. This is sorting out the differences in food and factory produced feed. The CSA (community supported agriculture) farms where you buy a share of the crops grown on the farm is really helping citizens better understand the cycle of foods. This approach brings citizens to the farm to pick up and/or pick their share/box of produce. They get to see the ups and downs of the growing cycle in real time. They also learn about stewardship of the land.[/quote] Yes, all great things, and very big in the Bay area as well. Are you mentioning this because it is a form of consumption that actually DOES result in the consumer knowing more about the source? What I am talking about is that the recent coffee articles teach people about brands, be it small brands, but not about the substance or source, so if that's your point I understand the relationship. Otherwise I am not getting it and need some help... Tom[/quote]
Yes, I mentioned this as a key IMO to getting the focus in the proper place. You bring the CSA experience to us from far away places. The land, the farmer and the whole story of the product. Your efforts to tell the story and show in pictures of the farms and those involved with the coffee is truly what it's all about.

Didn't realize you disliked

Didn't realize you disliked God in a Cup so much. I agree that much (too much?) of the book was personality/brand driven, but I at least learned quite a bit about the issues with coops, fair-trade certs, etc. Too bad she wrote the book before the ECX came on line...

Seems to me that a lot of mainstream press articles about coffee focus on Esmeralda auction prices and $8.00 for a cup of Clover or vacuum made coffee. Not quite sure what the remedy is though -- When you say that you would like to see more articles about "substance or source," what do you mean? The difference between bourbon and typica? Wet process vs. dry process? Farm gate vs. government regulated auctions?

Anyway, love your blog and your business.

[quote comment=""]My

[quote comment=""]My area(Conn. River Valley MA.) has been aggressively restoring local farming for the past 20 years. This is sorting out the differences in food and factory produced feed. The CSA (community supported agriculture) farms where you buy a share of the crops grown on the farm is really helping citizens better understand the cycle of foods. This approach brings citizens to the farm to pick up and/or pick their share/box of produce. They get to see the ups and downs of the growing cycle in real time. They also learn about stewardship of the land.[/quote] Yes, all great things, and very big in the Bay area as well. Are you mentioning this because it is a form of consumption that actually DOES result in the consumer knowing more about the source? What I am talking about is that the recent coffee articles teach people about brands, be it small brands, but not about the substance or source, so if that's your point I understand the relationship. Otherwise I am not getting it and need some help... Tom

My area(Conn. River Valley

My area(Conn. River Valley MA.) has been aggressively restoring local farming for the past 20 years. This is sorting out the differences in food and factory produced feed. The CSA (community supported agriculture) farms where you buy a share of the crops grown on the farm is really helping citizens better understand the cycle of foods. This approach brings citizens to the farm to pick up and/or pick their share/box of produce. They get to see the ups and downs of the growing cycle in real time. They also learn about stewardship of the land.