eight o'clock coffee vs Starbucks? Who was on the cupping panel?

Here' some recent hot news from Consumer Reports:

"Starbucks Takes Another Hit
Remember when Starbucks seemed like an unstoppable force? Those days are gone, kids. The troubled retailer, already suffering from falling profits and a slew of layoffs, was dissed in a recent coffee study from Consumer Reports. The ad-free mag ranked Eight O'Clock Coffee as the best-tasting coffee and noted that Starbucks, which costs considerably more, didn't even merit an honorable mention. Searches on "eight o' clock coffee" and "buy cheap coffee" made jittery jumps."

I am curious to hear about who was on the cupping panel and to what merit they had to decide this. I'm interested because this is a very SUBJECTIVE matter, as far as taste goes.

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Jake,
Over here on the West side of the Country 50 miles east of Portland Oregon we see less and less of that "Good Ole cup o' Joe mentality" In a great part due to the explosion of micro coffee shop roasters in a 150 mile radius. In our small roastery / shop we see more and more demand for lighter roasted beans with more flavors and fun in the cup. On a daily basis I see more and more folks asking for espresso drinks without flavors added. I often hear, "I want to taste your roast and the coffee". The bar for great coffee is raising higher every day and I am having the time of my life striving for that next level.
Jake Robinson said:
I think a quote from Uncommon Grounds, (a fabulous book by the way) pretty much sums up this report and other similar reports on this scale.
"Take a carefully blended, full-bodied, highly aromatic coffee and brew it carefully..., obtaining a heavy, delicate, enjoyable beverage. Give it to the average coffee-drinker and he will say, 'This is no good.' Then take the same coffee, boil it until all of its delicate characteristics have disappeared and a lye-like drink has been produced and give it to the same man, who will accept it joyfully, exclaiming 'Ah! that is coffee!".
-Charles Trigg, coffee researcher, 1917

Its truly interesting to see this issue being brought up on the exchange, as it was a hot topic of debate for a while amongst our employees during Boston's unusually cold winter. There's a fine line between pushing quality and casting pearls before swine, at least up here in a market so desolate and void of true quality that its rivaled only by the equally harsh winter. There have been lots of "studies" produced lately that exalt certain commercial brands and companies to the top of the chain; this is a dangerous game, as customer education in all gourmet industries is slowed by the misinformed ego. These results effectively shape the consensus of the money spending demographic, who happen to be Boston's most "cup o' commercial Joe" spenders. Getting customers excited about innovation rarely registers beyond the nominal value of xyz product. I don't speak for all Boston coffee shops, but certainly a large number of them. Not to hijack the discussion, but do any of you have similar difficulties? Keeping employees eager to uphold quality for disinterested customers is a daily struggle.
I forgot to say, Nice Post Jake.

Jake Robinson said:
I think a quote from Uncommon Grounds, (a fabulous book by the way) pretty much sums up this report and other similar reports on this scale.
"Take a carefully blended, full-bodied, highly aromatic coffee and brew it carefully..., obtaining a heavy, delicate, enjoyable beverage. Give it to the average coffee-drinker and he will say, 'This is no good.' Then take the same coffee, boil it until all of its delicate characteristics have disappeared and a lye-like drink has been produced and give it to the same man, who will accept it joyfully, exclaiming 'Ah! that is coffee!".
-Charles Trigg, coffee researcher, 1917

Its truly interesting to see this issue being brought up on the exchange, as it was a hot topic of debate for a while amongst our employees during Boston's unusually cold winter. There's a fine line between pushing quality and casting pearls before swine, at least up here in a market so desolate and void of true quality that its rivaled only by the equally harsh winter. There have been lots of "studies" produced lately that exalt certain commercial brands and companies to the top of the chain; this is a dangerous game, as customer education in all gourmet industries is slowed by the misinformed ego. These results effectively shape the consensus of the money spending demographic, who happen to be Boston's most "cup o' commercial Joe" spenders. Getting customers excited about innovation rarely registers beyond the nominal value of xyz product. I don't speak for all Boston coffee shops, but certainly a large number of them. Not to hijack the discussion, but do any of you have similar difficulties? Keeping employees eager to uphold quality for disinterested customers is a daily struggle.
Maybe this will put it all into some perspective........

I just went to the www.eightoclock.com website, and did their search for my state, CA.
The qualified and authorized reseller in my area......... WALMART.

I'll look for CR's next review, when they pit that same easy target against Walmart's own "value oriented" brand......... "Starbucks" vs "Walmart Bucket-O-Coffee."
Just to add a bit more sarcastic-salt to the wound........ here's a comment from www.chowhound.chow.com

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/405924
"Dominion is now part of Metro from Quebec, but is still partially owned by A&P. Eight O'Clock is an A&P brand. I'd be surprised if you could find it anywhere else. I recently tried it and found a bag with many defective beans that produced a wretched brew. It was so bad that I returned the bag for a refund. To each his own, I suppose."

So because of this CR review, the comments from Chowhound, and this inner-voice I'm now hearing (above that constant ringing) ........ "I want to go to there and buy some" ......... I will probably find myself in-line at the local Walmart, paying for a bag of coffee product. Was this a review, or just a subliminal ad message in the form of a review?
Well first of all it's Consumer Reports. Their methods are hardly pure science and they're often called into question. I doubt the panel used proper SCAA protocol or even knew what to look for in the cups.

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