Specialty coffee is getting (slowly) more and more popular here in Lisbon, and coffee nazi appear, as a natural consequence.
I’ve been that one before. You discover specialty for you, and get so enthusiastic that you strive to have these long conversations with people who drink instant coffee, or spend your time looking for those who serve robusta – to come in the night and strangle them, I suppose….
All out of good intentions, of course.
Cause you are so excited about coffee being so different, that you want the whole world to discover that truth. And of course throw away their Nespressos, and start brewing v60 instead.
It won’t happen. And it is good.
The idea of eliminating cheap coffee by specialty is close to the dream to substitute McDonald’s with Michelin star restaurants.
It won’t happen cause it makes no sense.
Cause people look for different things when they order a Big Mac and a molecular cuisine, when they order a robusta espresso in a coffee shop next door to “wake up”, or come to your coffee shop cause you have Natural Ethiopia in the hopper this week.
The needs are different. First of all. The necessities. And after all tastes.
People have the complete right to not to like what you consider the best espresso. Even what the head judges at barista competition consider the best espresso in the world – people, your guests, your possible guests, have the right to say “It is crap, I won’t drink it, I like something different”
There is no drama in that. And, more than that, there is no need to convert everybody to the specialty coffee lover. There is not enough high quality coffee in the world to satisfy that demand. You can tell more about it, if they request it by showing the interest. You should try to interest them.
I believe, personally, and it makes part of my approach to roasting and working in coffee, that what is lacking are those people who are doing things well, for real. Who just do things well, and grow, and stay on top of their coffees. Baristas who make coffee well, day by day, cup by cup. Dedicating themselves to that, to stability, to objective quality of the service or product. For real. Not on instagram, or to make out of it a talk, or to promote yourself as a coffee expert – those are plenty. They are all around. What values more is day to day action, day to day dedication.
And when you are dedicated like that to one topic, or task – you have no chance to end up a nazi, a purist – cause what is required from you, what is your craft is asking from you is to be attentive. To your client. And what you find there is the diversity. That specialty exists thanks to overroasted robusta, not against it. That we can appreciate high cuisine because we know the taste of badly done food, or not so sophisticated food – those are two sides of the same coin. And, actually, that coin has many more sides…
Yes. Yes. “Bad”, low quality coffee exists – and is consumed, enjoyed, purchased, more and more. People drink it, love it, and will be doing it further. There is nothing wrong with that, nothing bad with that, nothing that “has to be changed”.
After all – we are talking just about coffee. Just coffee. If you are at one side, or on the other one – does not matter. You can always share your passion. But don’t forget that it is just a drink. That it is about the taste, first of all. And taste differs. Taste is tightly connected to the habits, to the culture. And coffee is just a part of a huge picture, where there is no wrong or right.
I listen to people talking badly about Portugal, or Italy. No roasters, drinking robusta, habits that are hard to change… So what? This is life. They have other traditions there, for example. Italians gave us pizza, for example. How many bad pizzerias do you know? How many pizza chains? Plenty. I think every italian takes it as an offence. But they exist. Both sides exist.
I just say… Let’s be wise. Let’s see wider.