When you started drinking coffee what was it like? Was it well brewed? Fresh ground? Well sourced, carefully roasted?
Possibly, though probably not. A huge portion of the coffee drinking public began regularly drinking coffee regardless of the fact that it didn’t taste very good. Huge sales of instant coffee across the globe only drive home the point that we expect very little of our coffee. It has to be bitter, hot and caffeinated. And wet.
This isn’t to say that we don’t appreciate a better cup. Those exposed to good coffee are often mildly shocked at how good it tastes, how sweet or how complex and incredible. The educated consumer remains in the minority which in many ways is a frustration. We have a population happily knocking back cup after cup of filthy coffee and what really boggles the mind is that they know it doesn’t taste good. They almost seem to expect it, a cup of coffee both a jump start in the morning and a mini-ordeal.
The masses have great power. Their wallets can apply pressure to those in the industry holding back coffee, keeping the focus away from quality. We need them to start sending back coffee that tastes bad, not the cups that haven’t been served boiling hot.
We can encourage baristas to want to work with better coffee, we can spell out the virtues of buying a higher quality of roasted bean but we need the consumer to want more and right now their expectation is for an unpleasant experience, not a complex, pleasing culinary one.
I don’t know what the answer is.