What is Rao's relationship to Decent Espresso?

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CarefreeBuzzBuzz

#1: Post by CarefreeBuzzBuzz »

Just got his Omniroast email and it sounds like an advertisement to me. Anyone know his relationship to DE? How can I take him seriously if he has only had 5 good espressos in his life. Is he an investor in DE. Just asking right, for a friend, LOL. If he has any professional role, wouldn't it be ethical to disclose this?

I know this will be met with some passion so fire away.
Prior to using the DE1 from Decent Espresso, I had tasted perhaps five truly great espresso extractions in my life. For 20+ years, almost every espresso I tasted was imbalanced, too sharp, and too bitter, and usually astringent. The exceptions were usually shots made from low-acid coffees, but those coffees were not of good enough quality for me to enjoy as straight espresso. However, it makes a lot of sense that darker, low-acid coffees have been the rule in most countries for many decades. Every other type of bean pulled as espresso was guaranteed to be too sharp and imbalanced for most palates.
CarefreeBuzzBuzz
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CarefreeBuzzBuzz (original poster)

#2: Post by CarefreeBuzzBuzz (original poster) »

Nevermind - solved. He's the Product Designer.

Personally I think his emails should disclose this, but I am old, and...... things were different before the internet.

Does he disclose in any of his materials his paid relationships that may influence his writings?
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baldheadracing
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#3: Post by baldheadracing »

Maybe the question is how many times does someone have to state where they work? (or consult) He has been pretty upfront about the decent relationship over the years.

As another example, he recently went on a trip and posted pics taken at various places on his business IG account. He didn't state, "Here I am consulting with company X at their location" although I would guess that he was at those places to consult. I think that it is reasonable to not disclose these relationships. OTOH, if(when?) he starts posting how roasting machine X is superior to other machines, then I would expect disclosure initially - which he did do with decent.

As for the omniroast article itself, to me it reinforced that I have no need to switch from lever machines to a decent 8).

mgrayson
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#4: Post by mgrayson »

baldheadracing wrote:Maybe the question is how many times does someone have to state where they work? (or consult) He has been pretty upfront about the decent relationship over the years.
The answer is - Every time he comments on the product. Responsible posters who opine on a brand disclose if, for instance, they sell that brand in their store. There is no "You should know by now."

napierzaza

#5: Post by napierzaza »

I think this is really an issue around journalistic ethics, and does someone who has a social media profile around coffee count as being a sort of journalist. I think that you're correct that he should probably declare his involvement given that that requirement is enforced for influencers on Youtube/ Instagram / Facebook. So ultimately it probably applies to mailing lists etc. But I think that ultimately it's the platforms like Youtube etc that actually enforce it and you got an email.

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HB
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#6: Post by HB »

For what it's worth, here's the site guidelines: Vendor participation in the forums. What about their friends, insiders, promoters, and influencers? Based on the DE "About us", if Scott were posting here, he would be treated as a vendor:
Decent Espresso wrote:Scott Rao (product designer) is one of the world's leading coffee authorities. Due to the impact of his four definitive books, his master classes are frequently standing room only. His goal is making the best espresso in a repeatable, easy-to-achieve manner. Scott (with John Buckman) is the codesigner of the product line.
Dan Kehn

baldheadracing
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#7: Post by baldheadracing »

mgrayson wrote:The answer is - Every time he comments on the product. Responsible posters who opine on a brand disclose if, for instance, they sell that brand in their store. There is no "You should know by now."
A store posting an article or video on a product often doesn't say in the article or video that they sell the product. (They should say that they don't, though.)

He isn't claiming that he is a journalist or is independent. He is not a "responsible poster," he is a consultant and in business - no different from a retail store. If he was claiming to offer independent unbiased advice, then that's an entirely different matter ... but he isn't. In consulting, you don't bite the hand that feeds you.

Here's a more subtle example: in some James Hoffmann videos there are coffee devices in the background that are apparently being used (not on a display shelf) and are from companies that he has a professional business relationship with. Those products are getting beneficial exposure even though he says nothing in those particular videos. Should he be disclosing something? It's a slippery slope ...

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HB
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#8: Post by HB »

This slope doesn't look particularly slippery to me. An employee enthusiastically endorsing a product that he/she helped design is fine IF it's well-established they're an employee as part of that endorsement. For example:
Hi, I'm Joe from EspressoBiz. In all my years, I've never had better espresso than from our EspressoBiz Pro line. And if you act today, you'll get 20% off with the coupon code JOE20.
Versus:
I'm Bob from Bob's Cafe Consulting. In all my years, I've never had better espresso than from the EspressoBiz Pro line. And here's how you, as a valued subscriber to my blog, can save 20%! Just enter the coupon code BOB20 at checkout.
I have no problem with the first -- he's a guy enthusiastic about a product he sells. Great! In the second case, if Bob works for or accepts compensation from Joe, then he's potentially biased. A reader would likely weigh Bob's endorsement differently if he/she were aware of this relationship. In my opinion, Bob shouldn't assume that others "just know" about his potential conflict of interest.
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Jeff
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#9: Post by Jeff »

I've gotten to the point that I generally assume that there is "financial interest" involved with most any online review. Even "unbiased" video bloggers seem to have the desire to build their viewership, either for ego or for revenue. I'll listen and watch as much, if not more, for what they don't say about a product. If there's nothing wrong, something's probably wrong.

walr00s
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#10: Post by walr00s »

baldheadracing wrote: Here's a more subtle example: in some James Hoffmann videos there are coffee devices in the background that are apparently being used (not on a display shelf) and are from companies that he has a professional business relationship with. Those products are getting beneficial exposure even though he says nothing in those particular videos. Should he be disclosing something? It's a slippery slope ...
Of all large social media content creators that I follow, James is one of the best about disclosing any relationship he has prior to stating an opinion about anything. He also regularly has stuff in the background that he is going to give a negative review in a future video...I don't think this example is relevant to this conversation.

There's a decent amount of Rao content that has rubbed me the wrong way, and the more I follow specialty coffee news and literature the more I feel this way. He makes a lot of dramatic/hyperbolic statements, similar to the one quoted here, that come across as flippant and off-the-cuff. I was not aware that he had a direct relationship with Decent, though I had never dug into it since their machines are more than I would consider spending on coffee equipment. Learning about this makes me wonder if some of his other content around espresso, brew times, and brew ratios has been motivated by this relationship.