Will we all be embarrassed?

Do you put on one leather glove in order to make an espresso? I don’t. Do you polish the puck clockwise or counter-clockwise? Hmmm. Do you drink coffee with a silver-plated “cupping spoon?” I don’t either. Do you “break the coffee crust” by stirring 3 times to the bottom, or do you go 4 times just on the surface? Does brewed coffee extract or infuse? For how long? Do you argue with your other about whether your morning bowl of fruit loops has a hint of red apple, or green apple? If it’s red, are we talking Fuji, Braeburn, Red Delicious … and do the flavors “knit” well together.? How is the structure of flavors in those Fruit Loops? So 5 or 10 years from now will this look foolish, indulgent, grossly excessive, or will it be part of a ground-breaking new movement of “super-sensory” consumption? Will their be a Guild for everything? A separatist Machiatto Guild wants acknowledgement for their unique skills — they aren’t just your average “Baristi,” after all. How about that Biscotti Guild we were talking about forming? Will the janitors accept their same lousy pay if we pump up their esteem at the annual Mop & Bucket Guild Retreat? Just a few early morning thoughts. -Tom

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5 Responses to “Will we all be embarrassed?”


  1. 1 bwdaskam

    Great question. I suspect that this fussy attention to the nuances of food is a reaction to decades of dull, pre-packaged food (Fruit Loops included). And yes, reactionary movements always look silly in retrospect. But maybe it’s still a necessary step towards sanity.

  2. 2 mathan1234

    Wow. What a great post!

    I wonder how much of that could be attributed to the “long tail”, since it wouldn’t be all that hard to start a Machiatto or Fruit Loop Guild because of the internet. I’m sure I could find 20 or so people from all over the world. There’s a niche for everything.

    Also, I wonder if another part of it has to do with just plain consumerism. A company has a vested interest in convincing their customer that, “You have refined taste. You’re a bit of an expert.”

  3. 3 Thompson

    Good counterpoints, well-taken. I just mean to say there is a different kind of excess/obsessiveness in all this. It’s in the whole DIY do-it-yourself thing too. Before we moved to Ohio for 6 years, and we lived in the same area here (East Bay, SF) there was a person down the street from us growing tall grass of some kind in order to harvest it, dry it, and then make their own broom. I guess homemade brooms are really fantastic, or something (?) Coffee roasting is much more sane than that, and quality home espresso, but it can start knocking up against the limits of sanity quite easily. The main issue with the transition into the ridiculous is not always a matter of substance, it can be a matter of degree too. Obsessing over one miniscule point, out of proportion to the larger picture can happen a lot with these taste/food/beverage hobbies. I think about this stuff a lot because I am indeed a bit of an expert in obsessing … -Tom

  4. 4 Thompson

    A post on the homeroast list made me realize how cynical i am being about coffee stuff lately, i.e. this post. Thanks to the list for reminding me to look at the + side, rather than focusing on the excesses. -tom

  5. 5 blaqcoffee

    Your post raises a few good points,
    All this details and process will it give us the closure we need to make the decision ?
    Are we so focussed on the detail we just miss the moment as it passes us all by ?
    Can’t we just be content with the now ?

    I was reading Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance (and no I was not smoking anything weird) it asserts that there are two distinct types of people, romantics and scientifics (people). But maybe Tom you are somewhere in the middle, torn between just wanting to see it as great coffee happenings and reviled by the erroneous detail that stifles so much creativity these days. Where’s the love ? I am not by the way, trying to be a smartass, I kind of feel similar on some days or at least I think I do.
    But don’t stop with questioning or engaging in a bit of cynicism it’s essential, lest we all be stuck walking the same path.
    - Rossco

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