Have we reached the end of innovation? - Page 2

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Vad

#11: Post by Vad »

Thank you very much for such an expansive reply. I am looking forward to watching the video when I get home.

I was hoping that Gwilym would share some kind of a technique to explain customers not-in-an-arrogant way what a good coffee is, and how to appreciate it. For now, I know one way-explain what an espresso is about, to offer them an espresso, and if they don't like it-they don't have to pay for it.

Any other ideas, on how to "teach" people to appreciate a true espresso?

Alan Frew

#12: Post by Alan Frew »

Mechanical innovations still have a fair way to go, I'd list water distribution and precision dosing as two major under-researched areas. As far as educating the consumer goes, first you gets your customers, then you gently give them the information in bite-size chunks over a long period of time. You can do it face-to-face or by newsletter (my method).

Important to the process:

1) No bullsh**.
2) No hard sell.
3) Being able to back up your assertions ... if you state that coffee X is the best thing you've ever tasted, it had damned well better be.

It's worked for me, to the point where I'd be able to sell a lot more wonderful SO coffees if only I were able to get them, and my customers actually look forward to the "special" coffees each month.

Alan

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timo888

#13: Post by timo888 »

another_jim wrote:... the techniques of classical music composition have been rising steadily for the past 100 hundred years, and any active music professor could produce a creditable knockoff of large scale Bach, Mozart, Beethoven or Mahler pieces in a few weeks.
:roll:

Unless the wiggle word here is "creditable" -- and you're assuming an audience who doesn't know sh*t from Shinola.

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another_jim
Team HB

#14: Post by another_jim »

Alan Frew wrote: It's worked for me, to the point where I'd be able to sell a lot more wonderful SO coffees if only I were able to get them, and my customers actually look forward to the "special" coffees each month.
Yeah. Five years ago, a blend that wasn't 70% medium dark roasted Brazil was inevitably "sour." Now high grown SOs sell out fast. No way for this to happen unless equipment, technique and consumer taste have all improved.
Jim Schulman

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another_jim
Team HB

#15: Post by another_jim »

timo888 wrote: (about "knockoff music) :roll:

Unless the wiggle word here is "creditable" -- and you're assuming an audience who doesn't know sh*t from Shinola.
Two words: Wellington's Victory
Jim Schulman

Phaelon56

#16: Post by Phaelon56 »

I don't think we've reached the end of innovation - not by any means. But we are now in a mature technology stage. Changes and improvements will continue to pop up here and there but less frequently and with far more subtle changes (which may or may not be improvements) in the finished product. And for the home consumer there's a diminishing returns phenomenon not unlike the one in high end audio gear. The difference in results between a PID controlled dual boiler prosumer machine and a 1 group Cyncra or GS3 is real just as you'll see some subtle but tangible differences between a Super Jolly and a Robur.

As for the issue consumer education - I agree. But there are also (granted - fewer instances) situations in which a well meaning but obsessive home espresso enthusiast can turn a friendly barista to a less pleasant state of mind by trying to tell them how to do their job.

noah

#17: Post by noah »

another_jim wrote:Having a wider popular, mass audience is crucial. For instance, the techniques of classical music composition have been rising steadily for the past 100 hundred years, and any active music professor could produce a creditable knockoff of large scale Bach, Mozart, Beethoven or Mahler pieces in a few weeks. But the mass audience for modern classical music has disappeared, and there are maybe on the order of ten thousand people world wide who could appreciate a music piece using the latest techniques (they are certainly beyond me, despite my loving older classical music). The successors to all the 18th and 19th century high arts have suffered the same debacle, for the simple reason that for 50 years it was de rigeur for artists to have contempt for their audiences, and to be as incomprehensible as possible. The result is simple: anyone with obvious musical talents becomes a rocker, musical or film composer, since that is where the money, and more important, the audiences are. There have been no really great classical composers for a while; and the symphony and opera seasons have become the musical equivalents of an antique fair. (This is a mass audience for classical performers, who continue to shine)
Something about this analogy is going over my head (no surprise), or perhaps I simply do not think it applies here. The direction of classical music in the 20th century up till the present has not only been, generally, expressive of the composers disdain for audiences, but for classical music itself. They may write for the same set of instruments, and refer to their works with the same titles, but it does a great service to refer to the bulk of what the last century produced as "classical music". (There are very obvious exceptions, of course, Shostakovich, Copeland, etc.) It is rather a mockery, akin to what Jackson Pollock is to fine painting. Yes, of course anything that is new, shocking, and offensive will naturally attract a following from those who long to have some "esoteric" tastes as a feather in their caps to show off, but I do not see this sort of total contempt of form itself expressed in the espresso world, where form is as essential as it is in every other area of art. As long as the goal is to produce espresso that offers substance in terms of pleasing sensory attributes, then espresso is yet insulated from the self-degenerative influences that at the very least accelerated the death of appreciable classical music.

As for the talent flocking to where the audience is, this remains true only for the lower levels of talent, who consequently rarely have any significant impact anyway. It is rather the geniuses of the genres who are able to transform them and steer their entire medium in a new directions. This is done regardless, and often in spite of audiences, but, when it has merit, the appreciation of the audience "catches-up". If in one hundred years, audiences leave the medium for dead, then it can be concluded that the direction was simply wrong.
LMWDP #263

zin1953

#18: Post by zin1953 »

At the risk of offending some with yet another analogy from the wine trade, let me harken back to those thrilling days of "yesteryear" . . .

The United States has always been a beer-consuming nation, rather than a wine-consuming one.

The per capita wine consumption in the United States was 1.13 liters in 1935¹ (equal to approximately 1.5 "regular" size bottles); 4.87 liters in 1970² (approx. 6.5 bottles); and 8.69 liters in 2005³ (9.0L = 12 bottles = 1 case). Now, 8.69 liters is 2.3 gallons (rounded up to the nearest one-tenth).

In 2000 (the most recent year I have figures for), Americans consumed 27.1 gallons of beer per capita⁴ -- over 10 times the amount of wine.

In 2005, Americans purchased 692,000,000 (692 million) gallons of wine⁵ (rounded).

In 2005, Americans purchased 7,400,000,000 (7.4 billion) gallons of beer⁶ (rounded).

My point is simply this: the California wine industry had (and still has) a long way to go to increase the amount of wine consumed in this country. (France, BTW, had a 2005 per capita consumption of 55.85 liters, or 74.5 bottles; Italian per capita consumption in 2005 was 48.16 liters, or some 10 bottles less than the French⁷.) They have gotten there in no small part through the "de-mystifying" of "Wine" with a capital W, and through educating consumers that wine is not only for special occasions but really for everyday meals (in moderation, of course).

Medical science has plusses and minuses on the issue of coffee consumption, but it's nothing like trying to take on the neo-Prohibitionist, anti-alcohol groups. It's not only possible, it's easy for me to order coffee from any micro-roaster in the country -- they can all ship to me in California. (Not true for wine sales.) And so on and so forth -- in other words, many of the barriers that the wine trade has to deal with and overcome do not exist for the coffee trade.

But it's still an issue of education. There are still millions and millions of people who grew up drinking Maxwell House, Folger's, Yuban, Nescafé, Taster's Choice, and Sanka . . . and who still do so willingly -- thinking that spending $12, $15, $18 for a pound of coffee is completely absurd! There are people who still don't know what an espresso is, or a cappuccino, or any of "that fancy Italian stuff" . . .

Technology and innovation have come a long way, but there is always more that can be done -- even if, in 2009, we can't see that particular frontier. But education . . . education is the key!

And it's more than having a local roasting company or certified barista charge $$$ for barista training. While that's important, it's also already too advanced for the vast majority of the population. The industry needs tastings -- public tastings/cuppings. Get people to taste the differences between -- and it's not just Colombian versus Brazilian versus Ethiopian -- it's between Arabica and Robusta; between a coffee roasted to a Full City Roast tasted next to the exact same blend, but roasted to two or three others levels; between a 100% SO coffee, and blends that contain 90%, 80%, 70%, maybe 50% of that SO, but with X (or X & Y, and maybe even Z blended in) . . .

It's the same as showing people that there is more to white wine than over-oaked Chardonnay, more to red than just Cabernet . . .

OK, just my 2¢, worth far less (keep the change), and as always, YMMV . . .

Cheers,
Jason

Sources:
¹ American Journal of Enology & Viticulture; http://www.ajevonline.org/cgi/content/abstract/36/4/257
² ibid.
³ The Wine Institute; http://www.wineinstitute.org/files/PerC ... ntries.pdf
⁴ Nephew, T.M., Williams, G.D., Yi, H., Hoy, A.K., Stinson, F.S. & Dufour, M.C. (2002). Surveillance Report #62: Apparent per capita alcohol consumption: National, state and regional trends, 1977-2000. NIAAA report. August 2003.
⁵ The Wine Institute; http://www.wineinstitute.org/resources/ ... article122
⁶ Adams Beverage Group, Adams Beer Handbook 2006: 29.
⁷ The Wine Institute; http://www.wineinstitute.org/files/PerC ... ntries.pdf
A morning without coffee is sleep. -- Anon.

King Seven

#19: Post by King Seven »

For my money the next big step in innovation is going to be in raw coffee. I think that as the open source nature of the internet continues to spread, and as internet access becomes more inclusive then there will be a leap due to producers sharing knowledge. People like Intelli are already doing great things by actually bringing producers together for the Extraordinary Coffee Workshop and there is no doubt this will do nothing but good things for the quality of greens produced.

I've tasted a couple of natural coffees this year that have amazing juicy strawberry and fruit notes with very little in the way of wild/barnyard filth that holds me back from fully embracing them. This excites me because it is a little glimpse at what is possible when producers and willing (and able) to experiment and explore.

The very necessary innovation in grinders is likely to increase usability, consistency and reduce heat build up rather than be particularly exploratory in terms of particle distribution and particle size. Most modern grinders have evolved so little it has gone past laughable into downright depressing. (Photos of grinders from the 50s, and the worrying similarity to models from today, stands testament to this).

I'd love to see some innovation in the presentation and communication of coffee, but that has to start local and functional - I think people need to keep exploring what works well within their specific communities and feed that back in to find more general and useful trends.

Finally - the crema thing: Full credit to the Coffee Collective for the idea, they are people I will always look to for innovation. It has been discussed far more than I expected, in many languauges in many forums and in the real world too. There are a couple of interesting trends, some impressively angry people, and for me a great reminder of the range of definitions and meanings for espresso round the world.

zin1953

#20: Post by zin1953 »

King Seven wrote:I've tasted a couple of natural coffees this year that have amazing juicy strawberry and fruit notes with very little in the way of wild/barnyard filth that holds me back from fully embracing them . . . .
Are coffee beans susceptible to Brettanomyces (or Dekkera), or is the "barnyard" from another source?
A morning without coffee is sleep. -- Anon.