company - education - coffee

Friday, November 20, 2009

Boston's coffee community

In doing the last few rounds of the Friday deliveries, I had a few moments where I got to chuckle. At each stop, about 15 feet from the door, I heard that familiar click click click.

It was the sound of barista furiously clicking that Mazzer doser to distribute freshly ground espresso into the portafilter. This may sound strange but given everything we've gone through to get to this point, it's comforting. Thinking about where some of these shops and barista will be in 6 months and how far they have come in the last six months puts me in a good mood.

To come to this point is very exciting because the next year in front of us will be another challenge in training, competitions, and better coffee in the area. If we trained one barista to place in in a regional competition, we can train more. If our accounts keep growing, so will we. So to those who predicted or hoped we wouldn't be around in a year, you might be sore out of luck.

After the jam (second we've helped organize), I realized a few things. In a few months, the dynamic of who the best shops in Boston are will shift again. With that, I hope the dialogue can get off photos of 20 ounce latte art in the press and back onto coffee. It's a bit embarrassing really that Boston hasn't yet emerged from this cheap/volume phase yet with cafes claiming to be top tier. The nonsensical focus on jumbo milk art reminds me of the early New York coffee scene and the press attention it got. When the discussion is on the coffee, why we should pay more for better coffee, and how to provide an experience equal to that higher dollar amount, that's progress. Cheap 16oz cups of house light/dark is not progress for any shop trying to claim best quality in the area.

Boston has a young community built around coffee that is starting to move. Most of the progressive shops are splitting roast suppliers and there is positive momentum toward smaller/better quality cup sizes and per cup bars. I'm excited and hopeful. Things are changing, be it from the peer pressure of a big coffee event or simply new personalities influencing changes. For our part, we'll keep reinvesting in the larger community, even those that don't serve our coffees. The goal is to grow a bigger local base of shops and therefore end consumers who appreciate attention to quality in coffee.