Australians are no slouches when it comes to appreciating good coffee. But last month, an opinion piece in The Australian highlighted what the author, John Lethlean, felt was a lot of misplaced fuss, pomp, and circumstance going into coffee origins these days: Just a strong one, thanks | The Australian.
A self-described “coffee-geek groupie,” Mr. Lethlean appreciates the energy and dedication behind the many nuances of “single origin”, “estate-grown”, and “cupping”. However, he refuses to play along. Why? In the end, many of these subtle shades of variation don’t make all that much difference to him — particularly when contrasted with the impact a barista can have preparing an end result espresso.
Mr. Lethlean also reaches out to the inevitable wine analogy. But even there, he points out, few wine consumers can discern subtle differences of terroir, variety, harvest condition, and method — and even fewer consumers can do the same with their coffee.
We agree with many of Mr. Lethlean’s sentiments. His article reminded us of what we recently wrote about the recent obsession with origins and “maximizing adjectives”: that it reflects a current trend intensely focused on experimentation over a more learned enjoyment. However, our society has yet to simplify a single consumable after fragmenting its market — whether soda, yogurt, or orange juice. So even as consumer interest in coffee experimentation could potentially wane, we still expect the adjective parade to live on.
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