How Bad Can Coffee Advice Get?
Sunday, September 25, 2011
This morning my wife told me about some "coffee tips" in a money-saving website's article. So I had her send me the link. On the website "The Dollar Stretcher" there was an article entitled "Beverage Savings" by Chantal King. There is no information at all concerning the author's credentials or qualifications, nor any sort of a contact for her, so I cannot comment on her sources, only on the statements she made. Let's take a look at what she wrote, and try to be humorous about it since the level of advice given is such that it lends itself to little else:
"I had lots of coupons for Folgers coffee, any size, so I bought lots of tiny cans, and then put them into a larger, airtight container."
TRANSLATION: Start with the cheapest beans in the world, pre-ground so as to guarantee staleness, then when you get home open the containers to expose them to the air to complete the staling process.
"I have also bought the "bricks" that are about half the price. You simply cut them open and put them into a container."
TRANSLATION: The manufacturer went to the trouble to seal the coffee away from the air in a somewhat vain attempt to preserve what little fresh-flavor the beans may had had after processing, but to spite them I open the bricks as soon as I get home even though I may not be using the coffee for weeks.
"Another hint is to buy the cheapest off-brand since all coffee is essentially the same."
TRANSLATION: After the cost of sorting, roasting, grinding, packaging, shipping, and paying the price of slotting fees, Folgers sells for less than what decent green coffee beans cost the consumer, look for even lower prices than that when shopping for coffee.
"You can experiment with flavored coffee as well for different taste sensations."
TRANSLATION: Wait for a good lightening storm, raise your can of coffee through the skylight to the roof, attach electrodes can which are connected to lightening rods, then penetrate impervious nature herself to create a flavor that is alive... ALIVE!!!
As difficult as it may be to do so after reading that, let's put humor aside. The statement that "..all coffee is essentially the same," is factually true. That is, it is true in the same way that all wines are the same, all meat is the same, and all marriages are the same. Wine is made from grapes, meat is from muscle tissue, one spouse is fairly much like another, and coffee is made from coffee beans. But in my opinion, a blanket statement like that made to an audience ignorant of the facts is misleading, bordering on irresponsible, on many levels.
The article's presumed audience are the masses who use coffee as the drug of choice in the morning to "get started," as in, "I can't get started in the morning without my cup of coffee." So, in other words, it was written for those who "need" their cup of coffee as opposed to those who "want" their cup of coffee.
We could discuss the genetics, quality, and flavor of various coffees but the larger issue here is the propagation of incorrect and misleading information through false authority. People will read that statement and comment to others. "Why do you pay so much for you coffee. I got this for only $1.89 a pound because I read on a website that all coffee is the same."
There are so many of us who work hard to educate the coffee-drinking masses on how to make coffee that is not only affordable but delicious. Coffees that treat the earth with some kindness and dignity. Coffees that pay the farmers a living wage. Unadulterated coffee that tastes fresh, rich, and delicious on its own. And then there are those who write articles like the one quoted above, disregarding all other factors other than what gets printed on the cash register tape.