Last week, McDonald's released their latest advert promoting their 'McCafe', for customers who just want a 'coffee'. Speciality fans and frequenters of shops will spot a few familiar items in the advert whether that be the copper drip stand or endless amounts of chalkboards - but the advert raises some interesting questions, mainly what does it say about the speciality coffee industry?
I, and many reading this, are part of the converted. We know great coffee has to come from the best farms and be made to precision by a skilled hand. Brew ratios, precision tamping and microfoam is in our DNA - but does that necessarily translate to the general public? For all the good that is done, is that being lost by being inaccessible?
When I started Garage Coffee in 2015, I set out on a mission to make great coffee available to anyone who wants it, but without any form of snobbery or judgement. I love talking about coffee, and teaching those around me. Anyone who has seen us at events knows that we are passionate about the coffee we sell, and are happy to talk at length about anything to do with it from the best grind for how you brew at home to how best to store your beans.
For us, it is important that as representatives for the speciality coffee industry, we make it is as accessible as possible, because at the end of the day we want people to drink great coffee. Ok, it costs more which naturally is passed onto customers, but is an extra 30p for your flat white a big deal when it makes such a difference to the lives of workers around the world? Take a read about how we source our coffee.
But importantly, this isn't just about the end consumer. We (the speciality coffee industry) have a responsibility to make coffee as accessible, and be as approachable as possible. There is always going to be a place for McDonald's and similar establishments, and this isn't a competition (although we would win hands down by the way). We can cavort and scoff about naturals, geishas and Yirgacheffe as much as we want, but we have to make sure everyone can join the party. Failure to do so, means we become the butt of the joke in McDonald's marketing department, and I think we can do better than that!
Talking and learning about coffee should be enjoyable and enlightening, not daunting or intimidating. So next time you are in your local independent coffee shop, ask about their beans and where they come from or what their favourite coffee is, and let's get people talking about coffee properly. Honestly, its not all beards and beanie hats.
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