We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Coffee blogging

Rob Fisher has a couple of postings up about coffee, which I enjoyed reading. I am strictly a Gold Blend man myself, and am as interested in the structural qualities of coffee jars as I am in their contents, but even I notice how the price of Gold Blend can fluctuate quite wildly, which is what the second of Rob’s coffee postings is about.

In the first and more substantial of Rob’s coffee postings, the whole matter of Fair Trade coffee is gone into. Like many free marketeers, I assume this to be a fairly (actually not that fairly) foolish enterprise, better at separating money from dimwitted Westerners than at helping poor coffee growers in faraway countries. But what are the facts? Read Rob to learn more, and also read Has Bean, the quality coffee blog which Rob links to and discusses some of the content of.

Unlike me, Rob does care a lot about the quality of his coffee, having just purchased a coffee grinder. Apparently, the smaller the time gap between grinding and drinking, the better the coffee tastes. Unless you prefer Gold Blend.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on VK

8 comments to Coffee blogging

  • I was in a restaurant recently that advertised that it’s coffee was “Fair Trade”. Damn. I was really looking forward to a cup of “Oppress the downtrodden masses of the Third World” coffee.
    In any case life’s too short to drink bad coffee.

  • Yeah, I looked into fair trade a couple of years ago and won’t touch it now.

    Give me the free enterprise stuff any day.

    I go through ground coffee phases, but here in Oz we have a freeze dried brand called Moccona which leaves Gold Blend for dead.

  • Try having the following conversation some time.

    “Do you have any coffee that is not Fair Trade?”.
    “The Fair Trade coffee is reasonably priced”.
    “I am not trying to save money. I avoid Fair Trade coffee for moral reasons”.
    “Huh?”

    It can be fun.

    Many retailers like to have cheap, medium priced, and expensive products in any product category. In some cases, this is simple, as there genuinely are lots of gradations in quality in the product category. (Expensive steak is much better than cheap steak). In cases where the product is more or less the same, you have to invent artificial distinctions, which will often mean that the cheapest products will have ugly packaging, whereas the more expensive ones will have much more colour and branding. (My dentist tells me that it is very important that I brush my teeth regularly with fluoride toothpaste, but in terms of the health of my teeth, the cheapest supermarket brand toothpaste does just as good a job as any other. But boy, does it come in ugly packaging).

    Where there is no real difference in the product, making a customer feel smug about a more ethical choice is tremendously useful. All chicken eggs taste pretty much the same to me, but much additional money can be made by the retailer by making promises about the treatment of the chicken. (My suspicion is that all chickens in factory farms are treated pretty hideously, regardless of whether the eggs are claimed to be “free range” or not).

    “Fair Trade” is great, in this regard. Coffee does vary a lot in quality, but making really good coffee requires more work and expensive equipment on the part of the customer, as Rob has discovered, so segmenting the market by actual quality does not work very well in a supermarket environment. Thus meaningless and supposedly ethical distinctions are quite effective. Certainly the “Fair Trade” people have done a fabulous job at selling their brand.

  • Michael,

    I have that conversation occasionally, it’s fun. Except that, in line with their use of words, I use the word ‘ethical’ rather than ‘moral’.

  • RAB

    Try Blend 37 Brian. Same company Nestle, but it pisses all over Gold Blend.

    Fairtrade? Screw that, the hoops the poor bloody farmers have to jump through to get on it are unbelieveable!

    Friend of mine in California sent me a crate of Peet’s Coffee for Christmas. I had to go out and but a coffee grinder. Wonderful stuff.

  • Andrew

    Well i dunno about the blog, but extremely happy about finding the hasbean site linked to here – bought some coffee off them, fresh roasted yesterday, in my letterbox today. Perfect thing to be woken up by the postie, then rip open the packet, all that caffeine-y goodness floods the nostrils…..

  • Very glad to see , you wrote very good, hoped later can reference, to share what you are really good, hope I can and you become good friends. I am a Chinese girl, we can a friend? Looking forward to your reply!!! If I want to show you something, I don’t know if you are interested in? Please enter Vibrams shoes.

  • Hi,

    I have the Jura Ena 5 and have to say its fantastic!

    It makes the smoothest coffee, i would say its my favorite.

    I would like to have my coffee a little hotter, however i know that its max is 92 degrees (Best for coffee)

    Good post.
    Matty