It Feels Good To Be Young…

I’ve only been in the coffee industry for 6 years. My time here pales in comparison to some of the greats that have pioneered us to where we’ve been. That said, it is also my youth that keeps me ambitious, and believing in a progressive future.

See, I went to school to be a musician. I used to write a ton of music. As I got older, I got more self-conscious. Where when I was younger, I would write and say anything- putting thought, feeling, and emotion into whatever I wanted to. Every now and again, I still try to write, but I’ve lost a naive sense to just write what I felt. This blog has become the same sort of thing. I no longer just post. I ended up thinking twice about everything I write.

I’m trying to say that I still feel the same sort of naive nature in this industry. Like, anything is possible… and we NEED to change so much of what we do to actually be regarded, world-wide, as a specialty product. I’m hoping to take advantage of my youthful, over-ambitious opinions while I’m still young enough not to become jaded and think things are impossible.

This has been floating around the web. It really bums me out. I’m not addressing the places he visited or the quality of the beverages he had… Although, if you want to talk about pretentious, how about complaining publicly about the price of a cup of coffee that was purchased for you?

Or this-

“Earlier in the day I visited a busy Peet’s in Santa Monica. The only caffeinated choice in the urn was Italian Roast, which I of course scolded them for even brewing (“the only thing worse would be French Roast”). “

My real issue with Kevin’s thoughts is that if you want this industry to progress, then do not complain about high prices. Those prices are what allow retail businesses to actually thrive not just survive.

High prices in retail also allow companies like Intelligentsia to actually take care of their employees. I’m not talking about health insurance and a free ticket to see Slayer… I’m talking about 401k taken-care-of. They may be charging some of the highest prices, but they’re sure paying better wages that most of the Third-Wave establishments out there.

Finally, I do not like batch brewing for the same reason I do not like the Clover. I hate the illusion that you need some expensive piece of equipment to brew great coffee. Whether it’s a single-cup machine or a Fetco, I’d rather showcase beautiful coffees on the same methods customers can purchase and use at home.

Fuck. Teach people to make excellent coffee at home and then their palates judge what is quality and what is not.

Are We Missing The Mark?

I’d say we’re at a point in the industry, where any barista or coffee business owner who is paying attention, has obtained some sort of pour-over or manual coffee device. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I walked into a coffee bar and didn’t see a v60, chemex, Kone, or kalitta behind the bar.

It’s exciting to see that everyone has bounced back from our ‘dark ages’ of the Clover, and the belief that it took automation to make great coffee. I mean, I think it is safe to say that the 10k price tag on the Clover machine scared many businesses away from the idea of single serve coffee.

Specifically in the Northwest of the United States, it seems that everyone is implementing pour-over in some manner or fashion. But often times, I think the wrong message is being broadcast, and coffee enthusiasts are getting the wrong idea.

It’s never been about pour-over coffee. It’s not about the V60, the Wave, the Kone, or any one brewing method. It’s about coffee that is made to order, gives customers more options, and it’s about creating a stage for which you can showcase your coffees.

I’m saying this simply because I’m seeing so many pour-over programs that are lacking execution. Or worse, business that put manual coffee on the menu, next to their Fetco, only to see their brew methods sit and collect dust.

In some ways, it feels like many of these businesses are simply trying to keep up with the cool club.

The absolute worst situations I’ve come across are the folks who offer chemex, offer V60, or offer a melitta option, but have no means of getting water at a proper temperature… Maybe they pull off the coffee brewer, maybe the espresso machine… It’s like the get ‘it’ but they miss the mark.

So, what am I getting at? I guess my point is, don’t do something if you’re not going to do it well. Commit to the things you believe in. Why throw a V60 option on your menu if you’re yet to brew one that you even enjoy over your Fetco?

And if you’re going to commit to manually brewing coffee, remember why it’s a great option over batch brewed coffee. Commit to the right equipment. I mean, even a $99 induction burner can change your world with manual coffee.

Above all else, forget about the method. Showcase the coffee. Pick coffees that actually shine in the chosen brewing method… and just get people excited about the personalized experience they get to have.