Specialty Coffee Professionals are reading all the same sources – possible problems

When you speak to coffee professionals who started in the 90s, or 00, you’ll happen to hear a lot that there were no sources of information regarding coffee. Making coffee, roasting coffee was considered dark magic, craft, skill – and the only way to learn about it was to start roasting with a professional, and repeat his moves.

There were very few books. Almost zero manuals. No videos. Forget about podcasts.

Newbies who were entering the industry were wondering, why the professionals are hiding the informations – but the thing was… They had no information. No formalized information, at least. Just some techniques that proved themselves working, sometimes, without any idea why.

Right now we are finding ourselves in a very different situation. You can attend a roasting workshop online, sitting in your own chair (what I am doing right now, for example). You can buy books about coffee chemistry, botanics, brewing, the chemistry of taste, the chemistry of roasting. They are at the distance of 1 click.

But funny enough another thing is happening at the same time.

I have just finished reading Black Swan by Nassim Taleb – and while watching roasting master class I had a thought that seemed to me mind blowing. And true.

We have more and more people, professionals, posting about specialty coffee. There are simply more qualified people than ever before, and the industry is growing, we, as industry, are learning something new every day. There is more information than ever before. Diverse. Multi-lingual. Plenty.

But I can bet that Pareto’s law is working here as well, and not in its traditional sense, 80/20, when 80% of the content consumed regarding coffee created by 20% of the coffee professionals – but in a more extreme version of it, mentioned by Nassim Taleb in a book.

Seems like 80% of our information is coming from less than 1% of professionals posting.

What I want to say… We read more, yes, but we read all the same sources. I bet that there will be just a few coffee professionals that will mention more than 10 daily sources of their relevant coffee information.

We read all the same magazines, we read all the same bloggers, we are considering iconic all the same books, we use all the same resources for online education or brew guides, all the same chat channels.

Attention, I am not questioning the quality of the information the Coffee Stars are providing. What I am saying that there is much more info. And we are not reading other sources. We are not looking for them. We are staying satisfied with just 10.

And the reasons why these 10 are the most popular ones are the Black Swans reasons. They appeared in a right place, in a right time. It is like predicting if a book will be a bestseller – you can say that there are some indicators, but for sure you will never know. It depends on so many factors you cannot foresee.

This post is nothing more than a appeal to be reading and watching more diverse sources, trying other things, techniques, ideas, investigating – you’ll find lots of garbage, probably, or will produce some as well, but there will be pearls, I promise. Pearls that are not in that 80%. Just because they were not lucky enough.

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