Zak Stone’s piece for Good, “The End of Cheap Coffee”, is all over the map. At various times it’s both patronizing and objective. It’s peppered with provocative tidbits of misinformation—$6.50 for a cup of Intelligentsia’a Tegu?…I guess it depends on what you think a “cup” is—while, in other places, it’s objective and insightful.
What is it about the subject of coffee, though, that brings this tone out? It’s almost as if it’s a template.
I suspect the patronizing tone, especially evident in the beginning of the piece, is meant as a way of identifying with the reader—I’m going to assume Good knows it’s readership better than I—but it’s that exact type of patronizing prose that keeps the subject of specialty coffee an “us and them” proposition, where “us” comprises the group popularly reduced as “coffee nerds” and “them”, that majority set of (by implication) more reasonable, commodity-minded people. It’s the usual ball and chain of a zeitgeist that will, unfortunately, be a large part of this era’s legacy of publishing—fomented polarization. The tone is inherently un-educational. Good can do better than that.
Mr. Stone does get one thing right. Or should I say, he proves a good judge of quote-worthiness, when he picks out a well-stated and transcendent nugget credited to Geoff Watts, Intelligentsia’s vice president and green coffee buyer…
It’s interesting to me that the same consumer that will go to 7-11 and buy a bottle of Fiji Water for five dollars will go crazy and complain about a cup of coffee, […] This is a meticulously grown agricultural product from halfway around the world that was hand-harvested, hand-picked, and roasted and brewed.