You’ve probably wondered it yourself: Cheap vs expensive coffee. What’s the difference, and is expensive coffee worth it? These are good questions. We would do well if we approached every financial obligation with scrutiny, so scrutinize your coffee. I wanted to share a video that presumes to close the book, once and for all, on the discussion.
This so-called “investigation” set up a blind taste test comparing “expensive coffee” and “cheap coffee.” Jeff Rossen set up a booth in a mall in New Jersey and offered samples of these mystery brews to your regular average New Jersey mall-goer. Here are the results:
[I had the video here from YouTube, but it got removed and I can’t seem to find it anymore. Click the link above to watch the video on that page.]
The Kill Shot
You would think that after encountering such solid evidence against our craft, we would surrender. No contest! We’re weak! Mercy!
Well, we haven’t sold our roasters. The website is still up. People are still buying our coffee. But this silly video needs to be contested. This court jester can’t attack our industry and get away with it!
My Own Coffee…Mistreated
I gave a pound of my coffee to a friend recently as a way to say thanks. I found myself as a guest at his house shortly thereafter, and he offered me a cup of coffee after dinner. It tasted just awful. It wasn’t the worst coffee I’ve ever had. That was at this ice cream place that left some dish soap residue in their carafe. There’s also some pretty nasty stuff in former Soviet Central Asia. No, it wasn’t the worst, but it was very, very bad. So naturally, I told him that it was fantastic. He responded that it was mine…
Now, this wasn’t shocking. I literally taste every batch I roast. I even tasted and approved of the batch I gave him. My coffee is delicious, beautiful goodness. He just messed it up. He used unfiltered city water, a grind too fine, an old automatic coffee maker, and to top it all off, he let the brew sit on the burner for several minutes.
If we had a cheap vs expensive coffee showdown that night, you wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. Some coffee plebeian would then definitively say, “See?! Why are you paying so much!?”
This Vid’s Got Probs
This video claims to put an end to the cheap vs expensive coffee debate, but it has a few problems, and I’ll list three.
- We have no idea what the sources of these coffees are. We’re just given the line, “The contenders: cheap deli coffee priced at $1 a cup versus fancy gourmet coffee coming in at $3.25 per cup.” “Fancy” and “Gourmet” do nothing to convey quality. They’re just marketing terms. Anyone can use them. To call a coffee “Specialty” however, standards need to be met.
- We also have no idea about how these coffees were brewed. I assume the worst, because novices like these people don’t know how to brew coffee.
- The average person does not like their coffee black. So to the vast majority of the panel, both cups tasted bad. They certainly don’t have the palate to taste the nuances of good coffee.
Why is Coffee Expensive?
The pharmaceutical company, Mylan, allegedly increased the price of its EpiPen 400% without making discernible improvements to the product. Many coffee roasters do the same thing. They post “Gourmet” or “Fancy” on their bag, and this is their only justification for charging their customers more for the same quality coffee. Specialty coffee, on the other hand, has rigorous standards that the entire supply chain must meet in order to uphold the label.
Specialty coffee is the highest quality coffee, and this covers every aspect and stage coffee goes through. From seed to harvest, roasting and brewing. This video that attempts to “settle this once and for all” defines expensive coffee as being all about “higher quality beans.” However, we have no idea the source of these coffees, the roasting companies, or the brewing method. This is sensational content from a source much more interested in ratings and profit than research.
You’ll Know a Tree by its Fruit
Here are a few notable markers of specialty coffee that are totally absent in this “investigative report.”
- Highest quality coffee. It’s excellently planted, cultivated, harvested, processed, shipped, stored, roasted, delivered, and brewed. From seed to cup, the quality should be the highest possible.
- Sustainability. The specialty coffee industry looks at sustainability in terms of the proper treatment of the environment as well as mankind. Without responsible treatment of the environment and their employees, a farm can’t produce specialty coffee.
- Limited supply chain. Specialty coffee has a shorter supply chain than regular coffee. The aim is just two links: Producer to roaster. But most specialty roasters are too small to support such a model. Additionally, most producers are too small to process their own crop. So in reality it looks more like 4: Producer, wet mill, direct trader, roaster.
- Honest and transparent. We’re not embarrassed about any aspect of our coffee, so we disclose every detail in an almost painful dialectic.
The Cost of Our Coffee
So, cheap vs expensive coffee, where do you stand? Here we am defending expensive coffee, but a pound of my coffee costs on average $17. If you follow standardized ratios set by the industry (55g/Liter), an 8 oz cup of my coffee costs you $0.49 per cup. #WorthIt
So go grab a bag of our flagship coffee now: Brazil Fazenda Da Lagoa. Enter coupon code BADVIDEO to get 10% off too. My way of saying thanks for reading this til the end! I’m positive it will stand as the last word on the cheap vs expensive coffee debate for all time.