Good Coffee Is Now Bad

e2e4
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68
6d
MELTEDCHEESEONWHITEFISH.SUBSTACK.COM

Comments

neogodless 6d
> I consider myself an expert on this

sigh

> the part that’s more offensive than the price is that a lot of times it isn’t good

So don't go there and don't buy it.

> wish that I took that much interest in the coffee I make. But I don’t

So you're saying you don't care enough about coffee to make it yourself, but you have a whole ton of options close to home and some you like and many you don't, and you want to complain about that?

lmm 6d
Meh. Complaining that coffee snobbery has got more accessible is like complaining that good cameras have got more accessible. Yes, there are some people whose expenditure outpaces their talent. But a lot of the original coffee snobs weren't people of great judgement either. And complaining about those kind of middlebrow coffee snobs in the same article where you talk about how you'd pick Dunkin over Starbucks is the height of hypocrisy. This guy comes off far worse than the people he's criticising.
twawaaay 6d
> My theory on good and bad coffee, oddly, can be summed up by something they talk about in Top Gun: Maverick, about how it isn’t the plane but the pilot flying it that matters.

This is the first thing I learned on barista course (I am not a barista, I got the course as a birthday present because I care a lot about coffee).

As of now there exists no way to get a great coffee without having somebody with taste and knowledge to actually check the coffee, diagnose the problem and then fix it.

A lot of bad coffee should be understood as coffee shops without a feedback loop that would understand that the coffee is bad and how to fix it. The customers certainly are not good enough, they will just not return and you will be none the wiser about why.

I have been to many coffee shops for coffee to observe what looks like a lot of expensive, good quality equipment and then a barista that definitely don't know or don't care about what they are doing. And nobody in sight to spot and fix the problem.

It seems like the owners' idea of the business was to have upscale coffee place for coffee snobs like me but like many people missed the critical lesson of quality control, constant improvement and the importance of hiring people who care. Which for some reason is a lot of businesses where the owners' first goal is to make as much money as possible.

philip1209 6d
If specialty coffee stops being "different", then it's no longer specialty - it's a commodity.

I'm reading the "Best of Jimseven 2004-2015" [1] book, where then-blogger, now-Youtuber [2] James Hoffman explores his own journey starting a cafe. And, in it he talks about the original marketing challenges of positioning a specialty cafe:

> What those of us in specialty coffee offer isn’t necessarily unilaterally better coffee, but among our offerings are different lots of coffee someone will probably enjoy more than what they’re drinking

> My concern is that when our tone implies we have something better, because we think what they are drinking is terrible, then we're likely to have them become closed rather than open to trying something new and better.

James concludes that calling specialty coffee "better" is counter-productive, and that specialty coffee should instead market a "diversity" of experiences.

As nondescript cafes like Blank Street rise in prominence - that means that baseline coffee expectations of society have increased, from gas station sludge to robot-brown-water. But, "better" doesn't mean "specialty."

There's still room for cafes that offer different experiences - like a nice Sey roast. Specialty is best defined by "different" or "unique". And, what qualifies as "different" may be a moving target. And, that's ok - not every cafe can maintain a unique experience and not every customer wants a challenging cup of coffee.

You can have a great cafe without superlative-inspiring brew. Let's face it - the customer service of a local cafe impacts people's experiences far more than the particular coffee they're served.

[1] https://tenshundredsthousands.com/products/the-best-of-jimse...

[2] https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMb0O2CdPBNi-QqPk5T3gsQ

iddan 6d
Sorry to break it to you, but there is such thing as good coffee. In Tel Aviv, Rome, Vienna, Athens, Berlin, Tokyo, Kyoto and Warsaw when I went to specialty coffee I’ve got supreme coffee: roasted correctly, reach in flavour and creating a lasting good feeling. Unfortunately I can’t say that about other places. For instance in London I couldn’t get a single good cup of coffee (and i tried them all, really). I agree not any snobby coffee is necessarily good and also what I consider “good” can be different than others “good”. I was never a fan of sour light roasts (but I can still appreciate that more than bad coffee). I encourage everyone that this article resonates with: look for other coffee places. Not necessarily shiny and stylish but places that are operated by people who care about coffee and if you still can’t find a good cup of joe travel somewhere else that have it. I can vouch for Tel Aviv all the specialty coffee places here worth their title or close because the standard for good coffee is just high enough
paulsutter 6d
Nice if the author gave more specific criticisms. I read it from top to bottom hoping to learn something, anything. But I can't honestly tell if the author has excellent taste, or is just making this up

Anyone have links to what makes truly great coffee? I got a Jura machine for the office and I'm happy with the coffee (the machine seems to make a bigger difference than the beans). I'd like to understand better because I'm probably missing something

3pt14159 6d
Theres this Orwell piece that just absolutely resonates with me.

https://www.orwellfoundation.com/the-orwell-foundation/orwel...

My favourite bit in there is:

> All the organs of his body were working –bowels digesting food, skin renewing itself, nails growing, tissues forming–all toiling away in solemn foolery. His nails would still be growing when he stood on the drop, when he was falling through the air with a tenth of a second to live.

I'm not the type to turn away from a nice, refined experience; provided it isn't so expensive as to lead me to feel bad about the economics of it all. So I like a wonderful coffee bean, a nice pull, and all that jazz.

But across the vast expanse that is human existence, I really do not understand snobbery when it comes to the trivialities in life. That guy Orwell was writing about, moments before his hanging was complete, I don't think he or anyone around him cared too much about where they got their coffee that morning.

There are more important things to life.

intsunny 6d
The article says:

> This is a very arbitrary assessment, but of the six (yes, six (I do live in Brooklyn, remember) places [...], I’d say that four of those places just aren’t worth the cost. The coffee just isn’t that good. The two-dollar cup I get at the bodega does the trick.

If there was ever a 'duh' moment. The customers aren't paying for good coffee, they're paying Brooklyn rent.

A not-insignificant percentage of the price customers pay in shallow Brooklyn (Park Slope, Clinton Hill, Billyburg, etc) goes directly to the rent. Not the quality, the labor, etc.

hattmall 6d
It's not wrong, but the same truth from 40 years ago is still relevant, you need to know where to go for a good cup of coffee. Just because a place is expensive or gourmet has no real significance. The best coffee near me is at a mediocre diner that mostly serves overnight prison guards. Next best is a gas station.
paganel 6d
The reason for the high price of a cup of coffee (compared to its "production" costs) is that there's no other way to keep the business afloat. Almost no specialty coffee shop makes its money out of selling pastries or even "hipsterish" breakfasts (no matter how good, and some of them are really excellent), but out of selling coffee at many times said "production" costs.

If you don't do that you can't pay the high rent (because you need to open the place where people would come, not in the middle of nowhere), and then you can't pay salaries. In that order. Paying for the product that you're actually selling is the least of one's worries, so in that respect I can't actually understand that nickel-and-diming about buying the cheapest possible coffee the author mentions, but most probably those people have run their numbers, so they must be right. I'd say those coffee cups sellers managed to save a lot more money by doing business out of those trailer-like thingies (of which the article has a photo of) instead of renting a real coffee shop location.

And last but not least, good coffee culture is (happily) still alive and well over most of Eastern and Central Europe capitals and big-ish cities, I highly recommend the area for those crazy enough to visit some place just to drink good coffee. Bucharest (from I'm from), Bratislava, Prague with its Vinohrady area (excellent breakfasts on top of the good coffee, just excellent), Vienna, Cluj, Budapest (I've not yet been there, but I've heard very nice things about the coffee they sell) are just excellent places to visit if one's into that.

For comparison, in most of Western Europe capitals you have to hunt like a coffee-obsessed crazy person until you get to anywhere that is serving anything other than Lavazza (with Madrid and its Chamberi area a nice exception).