I will gulp down a cup of it after a sleepless night, by and large I’m mystified that so many smart, caring, sensitive people that I love and admire are so enthralled by what are literally the dregs of caffeine strained through ground beans...In the West, and particularly in urban centers of the United States, we’ve turned coffee into not just a daily habit, but a totem of conspicuous consumption.
Nope nope nope.
Does the author only eat food at diners too? Roasting coffee is just cooking. That's all it is. You're cooking something so that it tastes good when you eat it or drink it.
The trend in coffee isn't strange or crazy. This is a beverage that a lot of people drink every single day of their lives. What is happening is that some people (both customers and distributors) are saying "Given this, I'd like it to taste good."
That's it. It's wanting the food you're cooking to taste good. For shop owners and roasters it basically means giving a shit about what you sell to the point where your food isn't over a 2 or 3 weeks old and stale, and putting some effort into selecting good ingredients whether you roast yourself or buy from a roaster.
And it makes a difference. I roast my own, and I can buy a sampler pack of raw greens blind from Sweet Maria's, take any one of them to the beginning of second crack, and brew it two days later and it's going to be better than anything Starbucks could hope to serve me. I don't have to fiddle with a 'roast profile' or even read the origin of the bean I pull out of the bag.
It's not weird that people who's business it is to sell coffee to people would care about that, and it's not weird that people would want to drink a better version of something they drink every day if the price works for them.
It sounds like the author is getting too caught up in the marketing surrounding the food trend. 95% of the third wave shops out there are not using the word 'artisinal' or 'craft', nor are they putting a bird on it.
They’re like our hood ornaments: branded markers, symbols of our fealty to given coffee houses that, we are convinced, make us better, more informed, more authentic, more committed consumers of dirty hot water...
Again, I can't get the diner analogy out of my head. For a lot of people coffee is just dirty water that acts as a vessel containing caffeine. For a lot of people, food is just something that you gotta do and like doing more when you haven't done it in a while. Other people are more into it than that.
And it’s an economic scam too: coffee is exorbitantly priced
Coffee is one of the most actively traded commodities on the globe, and has been for a long time. It is remarkably subject to market forces, and hasn't enjoyed large scale protectionist distortions since (If memory serves) the early 1900's. On the consumer end you can "overpay" for a k-cup brewer (hint: you're not overpaying because you're paying for convenience and coffee), or you can get a press pot for 15 bucks that will last you decades.
cgod, seeing as you're planning a coffee shop and you're a bit of an economics and history buff, you should totally read Uncommon Grounds. I read it recently and it's a pretty interesting history of the commercial coffee trade. A general audience might find it a bit boring, but I dunno...I liked it.