It’s that time of year again for Consumer Reports to come to our collective rescue and save us from wasting our hard-earned money on bad coffee: Colombian coffee champ is unseated in our new Ratings. Except we’ve come to the conclusion that Consumer Reports does more harm than good in the name of good coffee.
Of course, We’re no strangers to mocking Consumer Reports‘ odd foray into the world of consumables. Their Web site literally keeps us in stitches whenever we read things like, “If you’re looking for information about coffee, Consumer Reports is your best resource” alongside teasers hawking their reviews of clothes dryers, dishwashers, microwave ovens, washing machines, and vacuum cleaners.
It feels a lot like asking your muffler shop to recommend a gastroenterologist. Their coffee reviews even fall into the “Home & Garden” section of their Web site, where bold type tells us to get ratings for “flooring, windows, lightbubs & more” — the things we clearly worry most about when seeking good coffee. Just throw in lawn mower reviews and we’ll know we’re in the right place.
Setting aside for a moment the dissimilarities between a kitchen appliance and something you eat, despite Consumer Reports‘ consumer advocacy and the socialist causes of its organizational parent, Consumers Union, their editorial approach towards coffee ironically encourages a great deal of consumer, social, and environmental regression. By focusing exclusively on what we call the “ghetto” market of mass-produced, minimal-profit-margin coffees, Consumer Reports is effectively dismissing higher quality coffees — coffees that stand to not only raise the bar for consumer taste buds, but also to improve the social, economic, and environmental conditions for where these coffees might be sustainably grown. Their reviews don’t encourage aspirational coffees at value-oriented prices; rather, they keep their readers constrained to lowest-common-denominator office coffee. I mean… K-Cups? Really?
Now it’s certainly not in Consumer Reports‘ agenda to promote expensive luxury coffees. But when it comes to automobiles, for example, they don’t exclusively review Hyundais while overlooking BMWs, Jaguars, and Volvos. Given how they treat coffee, it’s as if consumers get a public dialog about the best brand of canned green beans — all the while denying the existence of the better quality, and better environmental practices, behind the fresh produce variety. Or, as another analogy, it makes us believe that if Consumer Reports were to review wines, the only wines they’d promote would come in boxes.
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