Stirring a bit of the coffee world today is this piece from TIME magazine: Stumptown Coffee vs. Starbucks: Portland, Seattle Rivals – TIME. If Josh Ozersky’s headline of “Is Stumptown the New Starbucks — or Better?” seems oddly familiar, it’s because his article conceptually (and shamelessly) recycled Ethan Epstein’s piece for the New York Press from last June: “Totally Stumped” — an article that lead Eater to run with the headline “Stumped: Is Stumptown This Decade’s Starbucks?” Mr. Ozersky may have won a James Beard Award for food writing, but talk about a strange coincidence.
One major difference, however, is that the TIME article goes all third wave on us. Our years-long annoyance with third wave fiction aside, there’s something outright creepy about mainstream media stumbling cluelessly into social trends years after the fact in an attempt to explain them to us. It made us rethink their headline as, “Is TIME the new 60 Minutes — or Worse?” — given how reading the article made us feel like we were watching Mike Wallace introduce the World Wide Web to a 60 Minutes audience circa 1999. (We may be fans of 60 Minutes, but its track record of reporting on cultural phenomena years after the fact was exceptionally poor.)
In any case, Trish Rothgeb created a mutating monster that must be stopped.
The TIME article also alludes to, but does not deliver on, the Portland vs. Seattle coffee turf wars going on lately. This would have been a much more interesting angle, although it is only a regional (and not national) story, e.g.: A Tale Of Two Cities: Portland’s Coffee Culture Swipes Seattle’s Crown. Could you imagine an amusing piece invoking a comparison with the infamous East Coast-West Coast hip hop rivalry? With Duane Sorenson playing the role of 2Pac and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz as “Biggie,” The Notorious B.I.G.
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