Predictions for 2010 – Analysis

As we head towards the end of the year I thought I’d have a quick look back at 2010’s predictions post to see how I did. I’m not sure these posts have any value beyond a little entertainment, though it is increasingly obvious that I don’t know the difference between a prediction and “a thing I want to see happen”….

1. Widespread measurement of brewed coffee

Whether people like it or not isn’t the issue here, so I think it is safe to claim this one as correct. There are a lot more Extract Mojos out there than people probably think, which (as you’ve guessed) I believe is a good thing. I hope this continues to spread.

2. Another very bad year for the UK Branded Chains

A failure here, I really can’t claim this one as right. Costa are growing impressively, with some incredibly aggressive plans to more than double their number of units before 2015. Starbucks are in a much stronger position in the UK than a year ago. I have no idea about Caffe Nero.

It has been another good year for independents in the UK, but not at the expense of the bigger companies. This is a whole other subject though.

3. Increasingly Explicit Seasonality

I think it is still something that we’re struggling with as an industry, but I definitely think that it has become a more accepted and widespread part of how we talk about coffee. Lots more seasonal espresso out there too – which is a good thing. People with more experience in the industry than me will be able to comment about whether (in general) it is harder to find certain origins “out of season” than it was before – this would be an interesting metric. (Assuming we could agree on when an origin was out of season….) Gonna claim this as correct!

4. Baskets for Espresso machines

For me (personally) this was true – I learned a tonne and got excited about baskets, but for the industry I don’t think it was accurate. Can’t claim this as correct.

UPDATE: It seems important to clarify this one a little more. New filter baskets were mentioned at the NYC Out of the Box La Marzocco event and technical data shared that showed huge improvements in quality and performance over present filter standards. These are coming from LM, and they are extremely interesting. I’d recommend that people should keep their eyes peeled for updates at LM OoTB events.

5. WBC Prediction

I predicted that the same day semi and final would be a good thing (a bit vague I know – but I think it was!). I also said that at least 4 of the 12 semi finalists would be from producing countries. Turns out 5 1 of the 12 would be from coffee producing countries, and there can be no doubt that the WBC is a much more level playing field than before. I don’t think baristas from coffee producing origins can claim any sort of disadvantage when it comes to availability of different coffees, as many at the WBC did an exceptional job of showcasing their own origin and involvement with it. So – gonna say correct here too!

Three out of five isn’t awful, better than the year before! I’ll post a bunch of new predictions up just before the new year. Thoughts or comments welcome.

  1. 6 if you want to count Australia as a producing country, which feels like cheating to me.  ↩︎

9 Comments

  1. Oddly enough, the United States has (I believe) three distinct coffee growing regions: Hawaii (Ka’u, Kona, Waialua, Moloka’i, Kaua’i), Puerto Rico and Florida (though this is mainly rumors and I haven’t been there yet) – but I agree, saying that Mike Phillips comes from a “producing country” is technically correct yet oddly uncomfortable.

    I like the end of the year review but I can’t help find it a bit more than ironic that a claim of “widespread measurement of brewed coffee” isn’t supported by anything other than anecdotal evidence – especially when this “measurement of coffee” is meant to be so precise. Not to say that refractometer measurement hasn’t been on the minds of certain people in specialty coffee (like this blog) but to say that it’s “widespread”? I think that’s way more than reaching. Like refractometer measuring, perhaps there ought to be a generally accepted standard for “widespread” – maybe something like 18-19% of the coffee industry?

    While I like, support and promote the notion of independents negatively impacting the coffee chains (wonder if this includes chains like Intelligentsia, Blue Bottle, Gimme! and others), isn’t it a bit optimistic to believe that can happen when there’s so much confusion, disparity and lack of cohesiveness in the independent world? As small operators, I think the focus should be on impacting the local communities in which we operate.

    Again, I have to challenge the seasonality thing. As an operator utilizing the resources of multiple coffee roasters, we certainly are seeing the trending towards seasonality within this niche of specialty, but when we review the green offering sheets sent to us by the importers, that trend of “seasonality” fades.

    Looking forward to what we will discover in 2011.

  2. I did email Vince to ask about the Extract Mojo, and he shared some information with me (in confidence) that very much supports my statement above. My definition of widespread would include both number of units in the field and the types of businesses purchasing them.

    I’m up for debate on the seasonality thing though. I did hedge my bets by using the word “increasing” and I definitely think that is the case compared to last year. Obviously it is going to take a little while to impact all the way through the chain but I think it is happening.

    As for the coherence of independents – that is definitely missing. I’ve come to think of the whole thing less and less as an “us vs them” type affair. It is too blurry, and we’re actually chasing different things at the core of our business models. I don’t think Spro competes with Starbucks any more than Square Mile competes with Nestle. (Obviously one could argue that we are competing against these types of businesses, but I don’t really believe so.)

  3. Jay C.,

    You need to return home more often! Hawaii grows coffee on 5 islands and, depending on how you count them, geographically or politically, there are 10 or 8 regions, respectively (though, I believe the geographic number can be increased).

    I’ve heard the rumors of Florida growing it but have struggled getting confirmation. We should count the coffee in Santa Barbara and there’s a fellow near Seattle growing coffee in green houses.

    Still, I can’t but help agree with James. The US produces less than .03% of the world’s coffee. Although, to be fair, my livelihood is based on that .03%! Maybe the distinction should consider devloped/developing country?

  4. As the two percent coffee enthusiast market grows, united by the Internet, black coffee is a barrier to high to climb for the Norwegian market yet. TW had the Clover, now changed to AeroPress and UberBoiler, but Kaffa was the first to offer Hario to the general public.

    Now they got black coffee on both sides of the capital with great beans. The biggest issue in the industry isn’t the suppliers and their showroom bars, but the retailers promoting their brand through burned espresso. Very few places actually measure their coffee, except the great four.

    It may be a trend internally in the one percent community, but still I feel real measures, temperatures and quality control / interest is lacking in many of the speciality brands retailers. At least in Norway.

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