Coffee and the American Gourmet Experience

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Bryan is an artist, father, husband, and son (not really in that order). He works for the Department of Vetern's Affairs and writes and administers The Fireside Post with his father, Ohg Rea Tone. His writings have not been published, though they have been printed a lot.

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Coffee and the American Gourmet Experience

Coffee is in the news. There is a lot of talk about providing a gourmet experience for consumers. McDonald’s is the latest to join the coffee experience bandwagon.  Discretionary income is down, but the enjoyment of coffee continues to proliferate.

Lattee ArtThe inherent problem here is that we are seeking an experience with coffee, as in the corner coffee shop and the wrought iron outside chairs that give you 50 yard seats at the game that is happening right in your neighborhood. The taste, the smell, and the aura of the coffee creates a sensation in us that we can’t quite pinpoint. There is something about that place, about that experience, about that drink that connects us to the other coffee connoisseurs. The Italians get it. The French get it. The British get it (they just drink tea). And the Americans are figuring it out.

But just as Americans tend to figure everything out, we are requiring it in two and a half minutes. We want quantity, quality, environment and experience and we want it for less than a dollar and we don’t want to get out of our cars. McDonald’s is going to provide it for us, and they can do it without having to roast the beans on the premises. How convenient. All of our wishes and desires wrapped into a convenient package and served piping, scalding, skin-graph-required hot for our sipping pleasure.

This is a great country, with great people. But slowing down for a few minutes might give us some insight into what it is we were looking for in the first place.

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There Are 3 Responses So Far. »

  1. We don’t give two sh*ts in this country about the experience, despite what all the stock analysts pumping Starbucks over the past 10 years tell us.

    Case and point: the freaking paper cups. If I’m spending $3-4 for a cup of good coffee and want the experience, I certainly wouldn’t drink it out of something designed for a 6-year-old’s birthday party. Who goes to a wine bar to drink out of a plastic kegger cup?

  2. Unfortunately, I have to concur. You’re not going to get Americans to take a step back and enjoy coffee or any other thing. It has to be “now, now, I have to go”. Starbucks realizes this, which is why a growing number of them have drive-throughs. I’m a regular at a store that doesn’t have one, and while I do sit down and write while enjoying my coffe or latte, most people just come and go.

  3. The friction here, I think, comes from the American public wanting the experience and not being willing to slow down and get it. I am not suggesting that the average American consumer wants to slow down and experience the phenomena of the coffee house, but they all want the “gourmet coffee.” Americans do give two sh*ts about the experience, otherwise the coffee at the restaurants would be good enough, and the stock analysts are pushing Starbuck’s because it makes money, not because they offer an experience.

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