company - education - coffee

Monday, July 16, 2007

The line between 'customer is king' and caring too much.

While browsing Trader Joe's for some Trois Pistoles and Chaucer's, I was able to overhear a conversation about wine that gave me a kick. A lady asked about the case of $2(3 round here) Chuck. She stated how her friends had all been recommending it and how she heard in a blind tasting of 300+ wines, it purportedly won the tasting.

The guy was working the coffee section and giving away samples while having this conversation. I continued browsing not really listening until the guy begins to raise his voice in indignation of her insistence that this cheap wine is actually good even though she had not tasted it. She was looking for a party wine selection which seemed to strike a nerve for the guy behind the counter. This guy begins relating how he makes 10/hr and would rather buy 5 solid wines in the $10 range than waste his time with this wine. He relates how every party he attends is serving this wine and how he finds it insulting. 'What, your guests are only worth $2?' he retorts as they debate. He relates how it is inferior and the taste just isn't there and the entire tasting sounds like a scam much like the tastings of Folgers coffee vs other roasts. He then begins a series of rants finishing with a flurry about how our consumption culture misses out on great tastes and somehow ties it to our taste for Dunkin Donuts coffee with lots of cream and sugar. Oddly entertaining as it ended with her walking away as another customer who missed the debate walked up asking for help getting two cases of the Chuck.

It is situations like this that lead me not to give many recommendations of any roasted coffee except what I have in hand presently (behind the bar) that I like. In coffee and unlike wine, roasts change bag to bag and green coffee ages(changes) over time. To keep some credibility, I hope to keep the scoring/reviewing off our site aside from a bit of commentary. It is well known around our circle, we have a poor opinion of coffee review and it's particularly flawed methodology in scoring espresso. I don't think the industry is develped enough for coffee critics like there are wine critics but that's my own opinion.

That aside, I am quite ambivalent about the particular $2 wine. The question is, snob or just passionate about the product? How far is too far when you care but you have to sell a product you may not believe in?

I don't have an absolute answer but I know I don't invest time in people who push me to acknowledge what I feel is inferior coffee. The guy who says, 'darker the better' may not be worth arguing with so I get them what they want and move them along. Those who really seem interested, I will engage in long conversations and invest myself in sharing what I love.