The Melbourne International Coffee Expo for 2017 has come and gone. These are three reflections from attending the expo – one size does not fit all, find connection and seek value.
One size doesn’t fit all.
Coffee associations (in this instance I look at Cafe de Colombia as an example) look at the bigger picture. Speaking to them, especially about new Colombian projects and estates experimenting with new varietals and processes. They don’t suggest such “risky” paths.
In their farmer training/ education they do not recommend geisha growing (for example) because they are low yield and getting access to such markets (if not already connected, with interested roasters) is a challenge.
So it is the more risk prone farms that are able to experiment with different processing and varietals. In other words, those with better financial standing (who can take the risks).
Consumers are influenced by the people they talk/engage with (baristas/ customer service staff) and those they have given permission (following on social media, subscribed to newsletter).
The coffee industry has evolved aggressively over the last few years (with no sight of slowing down) and with its evolution, failed to bring consumers with it. So many consumers find the industry inaccessible and pretentious. A chasm between those involved in producing coffee (sometimes in poverty, unable to cover their production costs) and those on the consumer end.
If you look at the nature of exclusivity/ marketing of micro-lots/specialty coffee this plays a role (how prestigious it is to drink a micro-lot – perpetuates a culture of exclusivity/ inaccessibility).
The coffee industry is dynamic and diverse – filled with people with different motivations and interests. Connect with those your values align with, and don’t spend your time chasing those that don’t.
I came across a lot of people who have been burnt and felt exploited from their networks/connections/opportunities from “friends”. Try your best to stay away from the takers, fake friends and “being fooled twice.” Don’t stop looking for the good in people, but know when to walk away.
Thanks to HLP Controls (who was exhibiting at the Tea Expo) for giving me a complementary pass on the day!