In this new era of hyper-consumerism, there has become a culture of expectation.
It is an expectation that not only can your money buy the best coffee from the farmer you know the name of, but that it also comes ensconced in multiple insulated cups and holders, that you have six kinds of sugar (at least two of which should be organic) with which to alter its beautiful taste, a plethora of flavourings to disguise any resemblance to its origins, a choice of cream, milks or soy and a confetti of sprinkle toppings to tart it up and trot it into the world.
Honestly, when these accouterments are missing, the gnashing of teeth and pounding of breasts is enough to drive any poor shopkeeper screaming through their front door.
How did this happen?
In order for people to expect something, it first has to be present to get used to … correct?
Remember the good ol’ days when you could get a good cup of joe in the local diner? About all you expected for your buck was a clean mug and a smile from the waitress.
Now your coffee costs more than twice that and shall we guess why? All these “little extras” add to the product cost which then, in turn, gets passed on to the consumer.
Most roasters I’ve talked to think it would be the best thing in the world to offer a simple $1 coffee. But, unless you are a very large company with billions of dollars of backing and the majority of your menu consists of drinks that contain more sugar than coffee, then you cannot offer all the “required” trappings AND give a bargain price.
So it then leaves the consumer in the ultimate position of power. Do you go for the bright sparkly lure or do you enjoy a handcrafted piece of art?
And, as if the product itself hasn’t become overshadowed enough, the environment in which to buy your coffee has become burdened by expectations. No longer is the café a place to meet and discuss issues among friends. Instead, the expectation of wireless connection breeds a solitary environment of blue-tinged faces talking instead to Facebook for hours on end with little regard to others who may wish to enjoy the tables.
Never mind that the owner is pacing nervously wondering how he’s gonna make rent on the one cup of coffee (expensive though it may be) to the one guy at the four-person table over the lunch/coffee break rush.
In this new era of lap-top/cell phone freedom, the cost of office rent has become about a cup of coffee a day.
Call me old-fashioned, but most days I yearn for the simplicity of a good strong cup of coffee in a clean mug and I’ll even settle for a good morning grunt from the server.