Sunday, April 14, 2013

Mea culpa

A friend in the coffee business (hard though it may be to believe that I have any remaining) was kind enough to point out just how arrogant my original description of my intention in doing this blog came off. When I said that I hoped the site would be a place "for informed, critical writing about coffee" it made it sound like I thought there weren't any places on the web for such writing - which wasn't at all the case,  but that's sure how it sounded.

There's a lot of great writing about coffee on the web, but what doesn't seem to exist is any sort of magazine, journal or column, either in print or online, that offers the kind of critical writing about coffee that I enjoy reading about food in general, wine, beer and so on. We have trade journals that are, understandably, leery of offending roaster or retailer advertisers, and then we have uncritical, often fawning articles in newspapers and occasionally in magazines like Saveur or online news sources such as Huffington Post.

In retrospect I should have shelved most of the posts on this blog and put energy into trying to find a venue for this kind of writing. Better still, I ought to have networked with others in the trade to see if there might be interest in creating a web site where a wide range of folks with industry experience and an insider's perspective could post their writing.

I'm going to leave Coffee Contrarian up and running simply because there have been some interesting discussions that have taken place as a result of the posts. It's not the Wine-Advocate-meets-Art-of-Eating venue I dream of, but it's a start. If I had it to do over perhaps I'd have named it A Dinosaur's Diary as truth-in-advertising.

I've included links to a few blogs and web sites whose writing on coffee I consistently enjoy. There's Tim Castle's Coffee Curmudgeon (any similarity in the names of ourblogs being due purely to my desire to only imitate the best);  Sweet Maria's, which surely must be the most amazing coffee info source on the web; and Coffee Review, featuring  Kenneth Davids, whose consumer-oriented writing about coffee has been an inspiration and tough act to follow for decades.


  1. Kevin,

    Please, don't apologize! If there is any fawning going on, it's on all the blogs seemingly dedicated to the onward march of the so-called "Third Wave". I was in coffee up to my ears back in the late 90s, early 00s. Then I moved to the Great North Woods where I had no fast internet and lost touch with civilization. When I re-entered last year and began looking up the latest in coffee, I truly had a Rip Van Winkle moment: What the heck is going on??

    Suddenly people were paying over $100 a pound for microlots of green and then practically leaving them green! I got hold of a roast from a certain Nordic company and when I brewed a cup of it, seriously wondered if it was a practical joke! The color of the grounds was that of curry powder, and the taste was of pure citric acid. Nothing pleasant or even interesting about it.

    Likewise with one of the Sacred Cows of the hipster crowd from Chicago - an espresso roast that Andrea Illy would simply have spit out and laughed at. But then, I guess since these folks have "really" discovered coffee, Signore Illy is now an anachronism. And that's just the point: young people with no taste memory of the great offerings of the best roasters from the 70s and 80s now consider the wholly precious, hyper-politically correct coffees roasted by a few tatooed, Buddy Holly glasses-wearing, vintage Probat and Gothot using "experts" as something akin to the discovery of fire.

    Please keep writing and being grumpy!

    1. Robert,

      I have enjoyed your comments on this blog. I think Kevin should have you as a guest blogger. Perhaps bringing new voices into the Coffee Contrarian conversation is what will take this blog to where Kevin sees/wants it.

  2. Thank-you Robert for your kind comments and encouragement.

  3. Kevin,

    I really enjoy the perspective this blog brings to the coffee game. I also enjoy following this blog as it develops its voice. With only 6 posts in the archives I firmly believe that this blog is finding its voice. There is a place for your coffee POV on the web. Furthermore, I believe the title is spot on, even if tongue-in-cheek, because you are one of the few people proclaiming that the third-wave roaster emperor isn't wearing any clothes. It would be a shame to cease writing before this blog truly comes into its own. Now, if you have a vision for a blog/site that brings more like-minded voices into the conversation then I am all for it. As long as we don't lose your voice.

    I'm a nobody in the coffee business. I'm an assistant manager for Starbucks. I'll probably never have the courage or capital to open my coffee shop, not cafe, but shop. Even still, this young blog has really been an education and inspiration for me. I'd hate to see it go away.

  4. Hi Kevin, I hope you will keep writing CC, because you offer a unique voice in the (public) coffee dialog that is sorely needed. I can only imagine the kind of mail you're getting because of your critical views, but I hope you will continue to write about coffee in the way that only you can.

  5. It's never too late to start anything good and whatever may be the reason you don't have to feel bad about the past... Just carry on good work and hope to see more posts from you.
    Kopi Luwak

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