"I believe that the American coffee industry is doing itself irreparable harm by mass marketing mediocre coffee at a low price. I think that what is happening today in the coffee business is just a foreshadowing of the eventual indifference of the total American public to the world of coffee drinking." -- Edward Bransten, 1969.

I still see and taste this statement in some of the coffee shops I have visted, but now it is low grade coffee at a high grade price. We have changed the apperance of coffee drinking, with out raising the standard of the bean.

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This is mass marketing at its finest. Once the bean counters (no pun intended... or was there? ) get into the picture it becomes more about profit, ie how can we raise prices to the point where they won't scream... too bad, and how can we cut costs. Every little idea starts out as, oh it's just a very *minor* change, they will barely notice it, but when all those minors start adding up, it's a major shift.

Walmart is a great example. They started out buying american, then in their endeavors to 'get it cheaper'.. (not to mention the old man kicking the bucket and the kids taking over).. everything goes to the lowest bidder now, and we seen where that takes us with all the recalls from chineese products.

I don't see good coffee dying totally, it will always have it's niche place but getting it in a store on the shelf.... good luck.

Aaron
Especially well said in noticing such consideration and we can even apply this to most finery within the US and the notorious name we are making for ourselves- but this is coffee so let's talk coffee. It is wonderful to be passionate about anything and I find the "bean" to be a most exciting and intriguing investment- espeically from a more personal perspective. While at home seems to be the only place now where I can raise my standards of appreciation and finery of hobby to the bar I feel more impressive, I go out into the public of even Seattle Wa- supposedly espresso capitol of the US? - and feel quite dissappointed and bombarded by shitty lattes and the over pricing. Whatever happened to soulful investment? Now it seems cold and money driven. Edward Bransten- interesting I will look this man up in indulgent pursuit. I am pleased that there is someone out there expressing such recognization
-then where would you fine the finest of the bean if not on the shelf?
See, a BIG part of the problem here Skip is, YOU know better, you know a good cup of coffee, a good espresso, a good latte, etc from a cup of sewage regurgitated from a mermaid. Most of the general public doesn't because mass money spent on mass marketing has convinced these people that the raw sewage they drink *IS* truly the nectar of the gods. Then the spin off shops think *that* is the real thing and try to emulate it.

Fortunately, there are enough people who do know a good cup of coffee when they taste it, many of whom will continue to buy their own greens and roast them, to keep the farmers in business who will keep growing this premium coffee for those who truly appreciate it. There are also enough people who have taken the venture to open their own small little coffee shops to challenge the big enities and provide that great coffee to those who will appreciate it.

Will we turn the masses from starbucks, err, no, most just don't care, they are in too much of a hurry and just want their cup to preen their 'status symbol' to like minded individuals, and be on their way to wherever. Starbucks knows this and will market the crap out of it too. Can't really blame them to be honest, it's capitalism at it's finest, if the people want the product, and are willing to pay the prices, then by all means, give it to them.

I do believe the true homeroasting 'cult' ... is growing and more and more you will find out of the way coffee shops who are doing it the right way, and if you can get past the hype and hypocricy, you can occasionally find a good cuppa joe. Corporate america is looking for the fast cheap buck, but coffee america is still looking for quality.

Aaron
Now, I am just going to step in the mud here, I just know it. Here goes anyway.

Perhaps better to point out my train of thought with a question.

How much coffee flavor does one get from any of our delightful lattes or cappuccinos?

There is a world of difference between an excellent cup of coffee and one of those beautiful drinks that the latte artists are creating for us.

The 'sweet tooth' in everyone has many people convinced that those works of art are a bench mark in quality coffee.
Overall Bob is correct, but more and more often I'm seeing micro roasted coffee on grocery shelves that's managed by the roasters and not mass market grocery distributors. These beans sell for more ($10-$20 / pound), but most are sourced from farms where the roasters have relationships and are beating Fair Trade prices. They're also roasted by hand in small batches, ideally roaster to order week by week. They certainly should be arabica and not robusta beans.

Here in Portland, these roasters have representatives in the stores at least weekly keeping the bulk bins clean, rotating expired coffee, and generally make sure folks aren't getting stale or otherwise turned coffee. Freshness is essential, since even the highest quality beans roasted to perfection have a pretty short shelf life.


Bob Tyndall said:
Skip said:
-then where would you fine the finest of the bean if not on the shelf?

As a person who loves a good cup of coffee and have been drinking it for the last 50 years, I will say that you never could and never will find good coffee beans, or ground coffee for that matter, in your local supermarket or grocery store.
Well, let me add this about that. Back in the early days (very early) Nabob was the main supplier. In the 50's they packaged a fairly decent coffee.
However, like every other coffee supplier out there, ( just look on the shelves to see who I mean) prices have gone way up and quality has gone down accordingly.
One of the big problems is the quality of beans that go into commercially packaged coffee.
If you know about coffee, you know that the majority of coffee beans produced is Robustica. This is what makes up the majority of the coffee in that package on the shelf.
Robustica is a lowland coffee that is much cheaper to grow and is of poor quality compared to Arabica beans.
And considering coffee is second only to oil on the commodities market, do you not think that all these big chains are buying the cheapest beans they can get and charging you the highest price they can get away with.
By the way, if you find a coffee shop that makes a great espresso, chances are they are using Robustica beans which are higher in caffeine than Arabica.

So, back to the question. If you want good coffee, look around for a micro roaster. The small roasters are buying coffee from individual plantations. Also, micro roasters roast to order. So you know that at most your beans may be a week old. Not 6 months or more that you are likley to find on the store shelves.
Also, micro roasters control the quality of their roasting, unlike big companies who mass produce and mass roast their beans.
If you are lucky enough to have a micro roaster in your neighborhood, you can buy directly from them. Other wise, do what I do and look on line. Find a few roasters with a decent price and order some coffee.
You'll find some one you like.
I found mine after a few years of research and I stay with them. Been buying from them for a couple of years now. I order it online and it arrives a week later.
Unfortunately this isn't just limited to America, we have the same problem here in Melbourne Aust. Tired of paying top dollar for mediocre coffee that has a close resemblance to dish water. Luckily I have a couple of really good coffee shops nearby that know how to make good coffee.
You bring up an interesting point here Bryan. Though I think there are many coffee roasters and shop owners that have realized or are realizing this deficit and are filling the void that many of us have been feeling. Many large businesses loose focus on the bean when profits are down and investors are unhappy. This creates a great opportunity for the small guy who knows that he knows that what people really want is a high quality coffee that truly inspires. Go little guy! :)

Just my thoughts,

Jason Coffee
http:www.coffeecupnews.org
Jason,

You make an excellent point. Large companies are more focused on profits than the bean. Which also means they aren't passionate like the rest of us are. It's obvious in the taste when a company truly cares about their product. Unfortunately, coffee Joe's aren't being educated correctly and haven't experienced great quality coffee to realize how expensive the nasty coffee is. Once consumers taste the difference, they will more than likely pay for a great quality coffee.

The coffee industry has not been represented as it should in mass advertising. This needs to change, and I plan on doing it for cultural, historical and industry sake.


Jennifer Vaaler
http://dailydemitasse.com

Jason Coffee said:
You bring up an interesting point here Bryan. Though I think there are many coffee roasters and shop owners that have realized or are realizing this deficit and are filling the void that many of us have been feeling. Many large businesses loose focus on the bean when profits are down and investors are unhappy. This creates a great opportunity for the small guy who knows that he knows that what people really want is a high quality coffee that truly inspires. Go little guy! :)

Just my thoughts,

Jason Coffee
http:www.coffeecupnews.org

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