Speciality Coffee and the media

October 6th, 2010

For quite some time I’ve been thinking about why great coffee has struggled to really generate useful and sustained media interest. I have a few drafts of posts full of theories about why.

Originally I thought it was because, in our desperation for attention, we’ve compromised. I’ve compromised. In our excitement at the opportunity of a 30 second tv spot, we’ve agreed to dumb down and compromise our message to point of meaninglessness. I’m not picking on anyone but myself here, and perhaps this is more my own failings than commentary. 1

More recently, perhaps due to Malcolm Gladwell’s last article in the New Yorker, I’ve come to a different conclusion: we’re incoherent.

What I mean by this is that as an industry, as a community, we lack a coherent message.  We want to talk about so much – our roasting skills, or brewing chops, our exclusive coffees, our sourcing.  On top of this we want to out-talk our competition – “my trade’s directer than your trade…..”

Imagine that for a six months or even a year we picked a single topic and pushed it.  All of us.  Let’s take something simple that we can agree upon – like the importance of traceability in coffee. 2

Imagine that we all agreed to lead with this topic in every single interview with the press, be it TV or print or online journalism.

I’m not trying to dictate to an industry – just trying to spread and share a suggestion.  In truth this is the sort of thing that ought to be spearheaded by the SCAE or SCAA, uniting their membership under some useful and potentially successful common ideals.

Thoughts and comments are very welcome on this one – I just think that a rising tide can lift all boats…

Related Reading:

Small Change – Malcolm Gladwell

  1. If anyone has had a great experience with mainstream tv, and really felt they communicated the message they wanted to – I am jealous!  ↩︎
  2. I suggest this because I’ve yet to hear a compelling argument against it – while stuff like freshness, roasting style and seasonality are going to be harder to unite behind  ↩︎

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