There are few things that illustrate the great divide between the old, traditional way of looking at coffee and something of a more recent way than reactions to the price of coffee. (Neither way of which is more or less correct than the other, mind you.)
On the one hand, we have the new psychology of paying top dollar for the greatest crops available. Wednesday’s Chicago Tribune reported on the latest escalation of high-end coffee auctions: This coffee costs $103.90 a pound. Is it worth it? | Chicago Tribune. To some who have made it their hobby to notice the difference, it is worth it. To them, coffee is a fertile ground of culinary exploration. There’s a romance to it that’s somewhat suggestive of wine.
On the other side of the divide, we have people who respond to the same news with incredulous disbelief and outright ridicule. When people whine about Starbucks’ announcement to raise prices a whopping $0.05 per cup, these folks shake their heads at the infamous “$4 cup of coffee at Starbucks” — even if you cannot buy a basic cup of coffee at Starbucks for that price. On this side of the divide, the appropriate response to news of coffee price hikes are articles about where to get the most dirt cheap cup of joe available (e.g., Five Places to Get Cheap Coffee – washingtonpost.com). To them, and to most New Yorkers, coffee is a basic consumable just this side of tap water with little differentiation other than price.
Of course, the divide ultimately comes down to personal tastes. Some people value and can appreciate an expensive bottle of wine with dinner — they can taste the difference. While to many others it can seem like a complete waste of money for grape juice with a price tag that reflects nothing more than the varying degree of snootiness that comes with the bottle.
Like “red” states and “blue” states, this divide, like many others in this country, is one that people are just going to have to get used to.
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