The Coffeenist Manifesto (1/4): Quality

(The First of Four Trends We Should See in the Coffee Industry in 2017 and Beyond)

A Cup Good Coffee. Four trends we should see if we want to see more good coffee.

A while ago I was planning to write a piece on trends we currently see in the coffee industry and market. But as I did my research I wondered, “Are all these trends we are seeing a good thing?” For example, consumption of coffee is increasing in SA and worldwide. But what if it is consumption of bad quality coffee or coffee that was produced through the exploitation of child labourers or deforestation?

So, I propose that we begin a new movement. Let’s call it Coffeenism.

Coffeenism is a movement of people from all cultures, classes, and backgrounds who have discovered good coffee. Coffee good to the taste and conscience.

You might even unknowingly be part of this movement already – Coffeenists like to share their love of good coffee with everyone! Because good coffee is like brotherly love - the more it is shared, the more it spreads and becomes the norm.

I believe all Coffeenists should drive four coffee trends for the enjoyment and the good of the whole world. These trends are simply the growth, in South Africa and beyond, of four crucial characteristics of the coffee industry and the coffee it serves. These are:

Quality, democracy, morality and transparency.

You can call it the four legs of the Coffeenism table if you like.

I think these are so vital I plan to discuss them over four weeks as a mini series. So this week, let's talk about the trend of increasing quality.

Quality fit for the bourgeoisie but affordable by us proletarians 

I still remember a time, as a child, when I thought that cars were cars, they get you from A to B; and coffee is coffee, it all tastes the same and gives you a caffeine rush.

But as I grew and experienced more of the richness of the world we live in, I soon realised one gets Toyotas and Tatas, Mercedeses and Mahindras, Bentleys and beetles. Potentially, they all get you from A to B, but that process can either be enjoyed or endured. It can be done in quiet and comfort or with a throbbing back and rattling teeth. It is about engineering so brilliant you can appreciate it as art, as opposed to mass produced mediocrity (Not that any of the cars mentioned in my tongue in cheek example are necessarily badly engineered, but I am sure you get my analogy).

Likewise, a trend we should be seeing is of more and more people discovering that coffee can be so well crafted, or engineered, that drinking it is experiencing a dance of divine and human art. The discovery that there are flavours, notes, tastes, feelings, and more that can be experienced through a cup of coffee well made from quality beans, which cannot be experienced in a bad brew from boring beans (or cheap chicory!). Coffee should not merely be something one gulps down because you need to work late or drive all night in your teeth rattler.

Let us long for a world where “coffee” is not simply a drink or single flavour, but a medium of rich experience.

And better does not always have to mean unaffordably expensive. I believe my old 90’s sedan gives a better driving experience than many new cars 6 times its price. And you will see why affordability is necessary when we come to the trend of democracy.

To be fair though, one can never expect to put speciality grade coffee in the same price bracket as instant coffee or Robusta beans. When we discuss the trend of morality, you will see why this can’t be and shouldn’t be the case. However, as Coffeenists we should encourage a different approach to drinking coffee than what has been the norm: encouraging quality over quantity. Maybe a little more like the average French person approaches his/her food.

Enjoying coffee like the French enjoy their food

The French approach to food is revealed by the fact that while the French are brilliant at making the most delicious food, you will not easily find an overweight French person. How is this possible? It is because in France eating is an experience of savouring every morsel, usually with family or friends, instead of absent-mindedly wolfing down your food in front of the TV. The general quality of French food is excellent, thanks to consumer choice and regulation. French people do not need large portions because every bite is filled with flavour. Additionally, time is taken to enjoy food, so they don’t outrun, or outeat, their bodies’ natural response of satisfaction. In France, food is a means to a meaningful experience to be shared, not merely an end in itself, which also leads to destructive eating habits. Coffeenists should see coffee like this. So even if you can only afford a single cup of coffee a day, or a week, savour it deeply (maybe with a friend) and it will bring you more pleasure than 6 cups of the nasty stuff.

Let’s stand together against bad coffee!

But how can Coffeenists encourage this trend? On the one hand, the coffee importers/roasters/baristas are responsible. But they can only do it with the consumer’s support.

Regrettably, many businesses are focussed only on profit without much concern for other factors. So we as the consumers need to help drive this trend by voting with our feet.

But how can we make sure we are only buying good coffee? My first suggestion is to look for coffee which has a speciality coffee grading, which is one of the best ways to assure consistent high quality. Secondly, demand transparent coffee sourcing practices so you can be sure the coffee is morally produced. As mentioned, morality and transparency are trends we will be discussing in weeks to come, but the four trends of Coffeenism hang so closely together that improving one usually improves the others. So, for example, morally produced coffee also tends to be of higher quality than coffee produced to the detriment of labourers and the environment.

Let’s demand this for the good of every coffee drinker (and coffee farmers too).

Coffeenism = Coffee democracy

Speaking of voting, that points us to the next article which is on the trend of democracy. You see, Coffeenism is not coffee communism, it is closer to coffee democracy (but coffeemocracy just isn’t as catchy)! This is because democratising good coffee is the only way it will become the norm. Check back next week to see what I mean. In the meantime, you can browse our shop for coffee which makes the Coffeenist’s quality cut.

Did you know? All Pause Coffee is rated as speciality coffee, i.e. it is of a consistently high quality. Read more about speciality coffee here

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