This afternoon I sat in my backyard in the sun and relaxed. At the same time my neighbour was playing guitar. He played it well, and I enjoyed it. I didn’t know what he was playing, didn’t know how, but it didn’t matter because I enjoyed it.
I’ve written previously about how it’s easier to say a coffee’s great than to actually pull through on that promise and make a great one. But last week at the WBC I heard Tim Wendelboe and Colin Harmon speak of the importance of taste in growing our industry. What I came away with was a renewed focus on the coffees we use and the flavours that make them unique. Briefly, focus on taste and build trust through sharing this uniqueness.
In coffee we talk a lot about farms, processing, roast styles, brew recipes and extraction yields (amongst others). All this is very important. But I’m thinking that sometimes this becomes the focus. As Tim Wendelboe pointed out, we talk to our customers about “specialty”, “direct trade” and “micro-lots”, possibly (and probably) at the expense of taste.
This brings me back to the guitar. I enjoyed it simply for what it was, what I could hear: it was nice music. I didn’t need to know anything more to appreciate it. Maybe, just maybe, when we introduce our customers to the concepts of processing and brewing methods, it’s a bit like going to see a guy play guitar and he talks endlessly about what chords he’s playing and how he’s tuned his guitar and how he’s layered various instruments to create a certain sound. All we really want to do is enjoy the music, nothing more needed. Sure there’s those who want to know the chords so they can play at home, but for most of us it’s simply enjoying great music by a great artist.
And of course, theres a lot more to coffee than just taste. But the simple message of quality coffee is pretty simple: it tastes better!