De-Bunking Marketing Myths About Coffee
Two and a half years ago I looked to start a new business where every member of the company and all clients and visitors would be treated with honor; which means to respect people and provide valuable products and customer service. I was not yet a big fan of coffee other than for warmth and caffeine. I rarely tasted a coffee that I enjoyed. Therefore, my use was for physical waking up and energizing benefits, not flavor pleasure. I did not enjoy coffee. My parents were always drinking nasty bitter coffee and saying they enjoyed it. That did not register with me and made no sense. So, I did not regularly drink coffee until I was nearly 40 and working odd hours like swing and night shift.
Fast forward to the end of 2016 and I was pushed into starting something new with the values mentioned above. I started with the desire to bring in specific people whom I valued, knew and trusted. Then I looked for the type of company and product to build the business around. I wound up discovering a friend from Reno was roasting coffee in Portland, OR, for a successful growing company. My wife and I visited there while on a family visit. Within two weeks we all decided to create a company around craft roasted coffee and loose leaf tea with amazing core values treating all people well.
Very quickly I became a coffee expert as Hayden became a Q Grader [coffee sommelier]. My team and I went from nearly zero to coffee experts in the first year. Now two and a half years in we have learned a lot more about coffee and tea but there are still many wizard sommeliers who know much more than us. Along with learning all this taste and aroma information, we have also been paying attention to advertisements. Oh, wow, is there a lot of misinformation out there!
Here are some truths about coffee that you can compare to what you have heard or seen in marketing ads:
- Coffee is from a tropical evergreen shrub (genus Coffea) and grows between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. The average Arabica plant is a large bush with dark-green oval leaves.
- The two most commercially important species grown are varieties of Coffea arabica (Arabicas) and Coffea canephora (Robustas). Robusta has nearly twice the caffeine of Arabica. Caffeine tastes bitter, so Robusta is not very pleasant on the palate.
- Coffee beans are the seed inside the cherry from the shrubs. We call them beans because that is what they look like.
- Arabica is the nice tasting coffee used in craft roasting and is scored like wine. Very good craft coffees start at scores of 80 and above. For some mysterious reason, it is rare to see a coffee score over 90 and almost never over 94. Coffee experts, like most experts in any field, can be hypercritical, even snobby. We do our best to not come across like that. Please, tell me if I make that mistake.
- The best tasting coffee grows above 2,000 feet above sea level [a.s.l.]. Some grow as high as 7,000 feet a.s.l. This eliminates a lot of island coffee from scoring well, but you may notice the advertising is all about location, location, location. Not taste. Although, food and drink always taste better in a beautiful location! Thus, most advertising is about emotion. [NOTE: most sales studies show purchases are made on emotion, not logic.]
- There is no caffeine difference between a raw bean and the darkest roasted bean! Caffeine does not cook out until the bean is burnt like charcoal near 485 degrees F. Water, sugars and oils begin to cook out of the bean after first crack around 380 degrees. The darker roast beans; Full-City, French, Italian [Vienna], Spanish, go through second crack [temperatures vary but are usually 410 and above]. Beans increase in size [volume] each crack due to internal honey-comb like structure but decrease in weight. This leads to some fun math prior to making your beverage. If you measure by volume prior to grinding, there will be fewer beans in the dark roast volume, so a lighter roasted coffee will have more caffeine due to more beans being used to make your beverage. If you measure by weight prior to making your coffee, there will be more dark roast beans needed to equal the weight of lighter roasts, so the dark roast brew will have more caffeine. Check fine print on labels to see who is snookering you and with what.
- If a brand is advertising higher caffeine, check ingredients to see if they are using Robusta beans. They may even add powdered caffeine. Yuck! Both of these options lead to a bitter tasting coffee drink. [Trick: if you accidentally find yourself drinking a bitter brew, add a pinch of salt to trick your taste buds.]
This is a little tease of info. Have you seen or heard different information than this? Let's have some fun and learn together. Feel free to ask questions and we can learn together.
Thanks! - Scott C.