The Rise of the Coffee Snobs

I was reading this article yesterday on the BBC Capital website, which made me begin to contemplate. The new trend in coffee shops both in America and in Australia has risen much beyond the 3 rd and 4 th wave cafes, which we are still talking about in Greece. There ,we have got the trend of ‘zero tolerance’ and ‘ no addition policy’ cafes. That is, shops that sell coffee with strict consumption rules, prohibiting the addition of milk or sugar to the beverage they offer. In these trendy cafes , coffee offered, has to be consumed without anything additional, plain black.

Naturally, the owners of these cafes are trying to spread out their philosophy behind these moves. That is, how dare someone defy the taste of the coffee they have imported from the other end of the globe and extract it with the precision of a neurosurgeon, by adding milk or sugar. How otherwise will the coffee lover be able to refine his palate and acknowledge the complex and multidimensional notes of candy, citrus, jasmine, cinnamon and nutmeg ? The appreciation of the raw material should prevail over any personal taste or habit. All consumers must learn to appreciate speciality coffees and confidently judge them as connoisseurs : most important by not altering the primary taste qualities of the coffee. Of course this trend in the coffee world, follows a more general trend in all gastronomy. In recent years for example, more and more shops in London refuse to serve steak well done , fearing that the delicious characteristics of this great quality meat will be covered by prolonging its cooking time.

I wonder if we have been overdoing it? As a coffee lover , a professional in the field for over 20 years and three generations of family tradition , I would say we are beginning to exaggerate. I am afraid that these trends of ‘Coffee snoberry’, will probably distance consumers from the essence of drinking a good quality coffee. Respect for the taste or the preference of the consumer must not cease to exist. Our own work as coffee professionals is to offer a sincere high quality product ‘ an honest coffee ” to the consumers , to educate them on the distinct qualities of it, its geographical and social origin, and let them have the freedom to enjoy their beverage according to their personal taste. Our role is not to impose what we consider qualitative but to decode the special characteristics in front of them of what they are going to taste, and to let everyone enjoy his/her drink as they wish! This is the democracy in coffee vs the dictatorship of ‘specialists’.