The Religion of Coffee – Going Deeper

2010 January 12

Amongst the group of people who are interested in the true gospel of pure coffee, there are basically three sub-groups. They are divided primarily by their faith and devotion. The first group consists of those who think they are more hip or cool by being associated with those who are quite devoted. I will call them “groupies”. The second group is made up of people who have taken the time to develop discernment for quality coffee and consider it a significant part of their life. I will call them “partakers”. The final group are the seriously devoted for whom coffee is their life and may very well be their occupation.  I shall call them “disciples”. They have gone very deep into the true gospel of pure coffee: it has changed their lives, their identity.

Groupies are a funny bunch. They often have little knowledge of the true gospel of pure coffee, but it sounds cool. They are convinced without actually comparing various coffees that one is better than another. Coffee stories in store literature or on the web easily convince them of excellence. Their loyalty to a particular coffee place is swayed by popular opinion more than any other factor. Groupies are easily fooled in any sort of blind tasting. Nevertheless, they are quite certain that they know much of the true gospel of quality coffee.

The partakers have gone deeper. They have developed a taste for quality coffee and have considerable knowledge of how coffee is grown, processed, roasted and prepared. Partakers can discern when coffee does not taste as it should and can tell just by watching whether a barista is using the correct technique. They believe in some variant of the true gospel of pure coffee, whether single origin espresso, dark roast, West Coast, etc. and could generally defend it. Partakers tend to choose a coffee place based upon actual experience of quality and consistency. They share their findings with others. It is a daily part of their life.

The disciple has gone very deep, indeed. They have developed an intense passion for the variant of the true gospel of pure coffee they ascribe to. The disciple has diligently studied coffee, cupped coffee, discussed coffee and is intimate with coffee. They revel in the complexity of coffee, the wide variety of origins and flavor profiles. Disciples see how much there is to learn about coffee (which is daunting) and dive in. Often, they have been taught at the feet of another disciple when they were mere partakers. As a result, they are evangelistic in preaching their variant of the gospel of pure coffee. However, other variants are looked upon as misguided, possibly heretics. With such all consuming passion, they often make coffee their profession.

2 Responses
  1. May 29, 2010

    Brian, thanks for the kind comments about my involvement in the specialty coffee sector. It is a fascinating subject with many interesting and opinionated folks. I wish you the best in your endeavors. You are one hard working coffee man!

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