In the 1990s everyone struggled to use their computer. We felt like we were stupid when we couldn’t get the PC to do what we wanted. Yet we were in an age where anything was possible with computing.
Similarly the parallel in specialty coffee is we are at a time when anything is possible yet people don’t really know what they’re drinking.
There is great confusion for the customer and like the computer manufacturers of the 90s the industry is happy to keep the consumer in the dark. The coffee drinker in Melbourne has access to an incredible array of choice and quality, yet they do not know how or why the coffee is good or when it’s not good, what to do.
Like the useless paperclip 📎 in Microsoft, coffee companies and cafes offer little information or equipping for customers to discern or dicipher the vast array of coffee available.
Mass produced coffee commodity suppliers like McDonald’s and Nespress market their coffee as specialty, and send intentially misleading information marketing signals to confuse the client into believing a pod of 4 grams of preground vacuum sealed coffee is a high end coffee. Cafes and roasters with terrible blended over developed robusta coffee buy machines and hire tattooed baristas who themselves are sending a message of quality that is in no way tied to reality. The presence of a LaMarzocco and a hipster barista is in no way a reflection of quality.
I was at the Number 1 best cafe in Melbourne today with my wife, and the espresso was underdeveloped and overextracted, thin, powdery and intensely acrid and bitter. This coffee would be laughed at in a competition and the soy flat white was thick and chunky.
But the $5.20 price wise happily paid by unassuming customers.
One could argue that the customer is happy. But we were happy with asbestos too before we were educated. We were happy with total government surveillance before we knew it was standard practice.
There is a need for customer service from the industry so that we can do what computing endeavors duo doing with the likes of the iPad, and re-engineer a customer focused environment that is empowering for the end user.
Coffee drinkers have never had so much choice and access to quality yet the do not know really what quality is or where to find it, or why it’s not in the other places they experience coffee.