The Religion of Coffee – Denominations

2010 January 2

Truly, truly I say unto you: there is a vast religion of coffee. While not the only food product that inspires a religious fervor (wine, cheese, organics, locavore, etc.), coffee is probably the most common food product to that has attained god-like status among devoteés.

The Denominations

The religion of coffee has several denominations, which generally do not play with each other or respect each others’ point of view. The largest denomination contains very few true believers: the Starbucks attenders. They do not adhere to the true gospel of pure coffee, but have a watered down (or I should say, milked-down) version. Some true believer converts have come from the ranks of Starbucks attenders, but it is rare. This large group of people, numbering the multi-millions, is quite proud of their religion and enjoy displaying symbols of their devotion: the logo cup held up for the world to see. While this denomination grew rapidly, it has seen some erosion in recent years as the true gospel of pure coffee has become increasingly faint.

There are several smaller denominations characterized by their complete ridicule of Starbucks and in-fighting between one another. Each has a somewhat different view of  what constitutes the true gospel of pure coffee. Some of denominations are the church of single origin espresso, the church of blended coffees, the church of the dark roast, the church of latte art, etc. Most of the denominations look down on the others as being quite wrong in their approach to coffee and possibly not a believer at all. Common folk are not warmly greeted at these churches and are met with strange rituals and verbal abuse for asking “dumb questions” or possibly defiling a coffee drink with an adulterating ingredient. Many return to Starbucks, where life is easier. Some tough it out and become members of the denomination and begin to share the good news of their special brand of the gospel of pure coffee.

One does encounter the occasional welcoming denomination where people are honored over coffee, yet coffee is held in high esteem. But, sadly, this is all too rare.

9 Responses
  1. January 2, 2010

    Hehe, that was a good one.

  2. January 5, 2010

    preach it, brother joe.


  3. January 5, 2010

    the gospel as it should be spoken. i love this, joe.

  4. January 5, 2010

    “Some true believer converts have come from the ranks of Starbucks attenders, but it is rare. ”

    I think it’s less rare than you think. I’ve come to regard SB as awful. But if it didn’t exist, I probably wouldn’t have started drinking any sort of coffee at all. I think just about every indie coffee shop has to acknowledge that SB gave coffee drinking a social cache it never had before. Even if only 10 percent (which I think is conservative) of SB people “graduate” to the local shop, that’s a huge number and one that impact this country’s coffee culture. Without SB, we might have a much flatter coffeescape here.

    I suppose it might depend on what you consider rare, too.

    • January 8, 2010

      I agree with you. I actually admire(d) Starbucks as no one has ever rolled out a concept so well. When Jerry Baldwin owned it (now of Peet’s), it was a great local Seattle chain of true believers. Howard Schultz purchased it and, as his book states, he intended to bring the true gospel of pure coffee (dark roast variant) to the masses. Their success and desire to open so many units was their undoing as they forgot the true gospel and it became about the numbers. Now they will try to rekindle the faith, but alas, it may be too late. There is a lesson to the “indies” in all of this: better have a firm foundation of quality and operations before you dilute yourself with additional locations.

  5. January 9, 2010

    What about all the hard core veterans who drink a pot of coffee a day (I am thinking of old folks, blue collars, office workers and the like who have always drank the stuff out of a can? Aren’t they the biggest and oldest denomination of all? Where do they fit in?

    • January 9, 2010

      I think they are the denomination of the people unafilliated. They are quite content without the true gospel of pure coffee. They think of those who go deeper into coffee as a bit extremist: why go beyond “the best part of waking up is folgers in your cup”.

  6. mveltri permalink
    January 9, 2010

    Don’t forget about the gas station and convenience store coffee people. If not for gas station coffee every morning before school, I never would have begun to drink coffee. Thank you 7-11

    • January 9, 2010

      This is the denomination of the televangelist. Basically it is convenient and there may be the occasional bit of the true gospel of pure coffee thrown in. Some people, as yourself, may be quickened in their heart to pursue the true gospel of pure coffee thereby.

Comments are closed.