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Things I don't like about Coffee
Home >> Other >> Love and Hate >> Hating Coffee

There's so many things to love about coffee, espresso, and the coffee business. But there are many things that get my dander up, and many things I mourn. Here's a list of some of the standouts.

  • The Used Car Salesmen Phenom: Every year I go to the SCAA trade show, or about once or twice a month when handling "business" calls with regards to the CoffeeGeek site, I see plenty examples of the "used car salesman" type who only cares about money, and will lie to you on the smallest issues. Be them booth operators who have the sexy women to push their mediocre products, or the vendor for major product lines who has to keep a pocket scorecard to keep track of which lie he told which customer, they exist in this biz, and they are bad for this biz (or any other biz). Coffee is a passion-driven business (if you want the very best). But the used car types will always be there. It's a shame.

  • Starbucks: For all their good, they do some bad as well. Starbucks can be a bad corporate citizen, especially with their heavy handed legalistic attacks against other companies, and even individuals. I especially don't like the fact that Starbucks has taken other people's ideas and claimed them as their own (one example is the infamous Joe Magazine idea that was pitched to them, they rejected it, then a year or two later started up a, you guessed it, Joe Magazine concept without paying due to the originator). Starbucks needs to examine some of their corporate practices and fix them.

  • The Italians: Here's a controversial one, and I am generalizing here, but there are many Italian companies and individuals who simply refuse to get with the times and recognize that espresso progression did not halt in 1961. In addition, the arrogance sometimes displayed to the N. American marketplace and needs is staggering. Some companies are worse offenders than others in this aspect. I want to note, based on stuff I wrote elsewhere, that I think Rancilio is one of the better companies in this regard (ie, there are many worse offenders than Rancilio in terms of how they view the N. American marketplace), but even they need to get in tune with the times.

  • Arrogance Breeds Ignorance: and vice versa. There are many PBTCs (persons behind the counter) who need a serious shake up to realize that what they do harms coffee and the espresso industry. That they do not know everything. I certainly don't know everything about coffee and espresso, and never will. It's a shame that too many folks behind the counter, from the minimum wager on up to the café owners and beyond, think they do. Their arrogance not only fosters, but spreads ignorance of what quality espresso should be.

  • SCAA Politics: For all the good the SCAA does (and they do a LOT of it), I do see elements of where politics and to a lesser extent, bean counting (sometimes given precedence over bean loving and promotion) can rule the day. I worry that the SCAA may forget one day the grass roots it came from; the pursuit and promotion of specialty coffee, and the increasing awareness of coffee as a quality beverage in the American (and world) eye. This includes social and ethical issues, which are intrinsic to the promotion and sustainability of quality coffees. Many of the people within the SCAA want to promote specialty coffee to the hilt, but sometimes politics, political correctness, and maybe even a lack of forward thinking can and do hamper this. And even though I fully proclaim to be ignorant and simple-minded about such things, I can never agree with the concept of how members of the NCA can be part (and an active part, at times) of the SCAA (see the next item).

  • The NCA and the Big Four: Corporate greed at it's worst. Do I need to say more? Okay, I will - the big four are Sara Lee, Kraft, Proctor and Gamble, and the worst offender, Nestle. Boycott their products where you can, and send them the message that they need to stop fostering the current Coffee Crisis. I mean send it literally. Read this article for more background, and the addresses of companies you can contact to get them to change their corporate practices.

  • The Coffee Crisis: Farmers aren't paid a living wage for their products. Vietnam is flooding the world coffee market, driving the prices to historic lows. Corporations get fat profits (see Big Four above) while proclaiming their goody two shoes work of donating paltry amounts to "the cause" (one example is Nestle making a huge deal about spending $6mil on social issues in coffee producing regions - they make that six mil in profits every half day). Farmers are dying. Educate yourself on things you can do.

  • Brasil: People have been heaping blame on Vietnam for flooding the market for the last few years, but Brasil's been doing it for 100 years or more, and clearcutting an entire nation and much of the world's rainforests to do it. I rarely buy Brasilian coffee because of this, unless I know for a fact the Brasilian coffee I buy is ethical, shade grown, and sustainable. You should educate yourself as well, and avoid most Brasilian coffees.

  • The Old Boys Club: Thankfully, this is going away, but there are still many people in this business who feel there is no room, want, or place for women in the world of coffee. Dinosaurs, they are, soon to be gone.
Other Parts of the What I love and dont' love about Coffee Section.
Things I love about coffee and espresso  
This one could go on forever. There are so many things to love about coffee, espresso, and the business. Passion levels run high. Let's explore and celebrate. [ more ]  

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