I have realized that quantity does not, in the end, trump quality. Producers know that, and consumers know that, but we had a few hiccups along the way to that discovery.
Much of the food industry in the twentieth century in the US revolved around making more out of less, mass producing and pre-packaging for your convenience, to make life, and dinner, easier. Of course this all sounds great on paper, right? We get more food, that’s easier to make at a fraction of a cost – awesome!
But wait, what about the taste? What about my health?
Over the last few decades, more and more Americans are realizing that the bread we eat, the corn we cook, the beef, pork and chicken we grill is not the way it should be. It often makes us sick, it contributes to our obesity and our poor immune systems. It also simply doesn’t usually taste as good as it could. We needed to take back pride and care in the crops and livestock we raised, go back to grandma’s kitchen and learn how to make things from scratch.
Soon, not only is our food beginning to be more healthy and wholesome again, but a new energy is being poured into everything we consume. Small batch, house made, locally sourced – all these things now carry a value that shows that the product being offered to you wasn’t churned out to make a quick buck, somebody took care and interest to give you something fantastic and delicious. This has since begun gaining more popularity in things other than just groceries and restaurants. There was this obvious but overlooked quality that existed in just about everything we used or consumed every day, all we had to do was take some more time to uncover it and show it to everyone.
Food, clothing, electronics, automotives, beer, and even coffee – there were things that made certain examples better than previous creations, innovations that made the experience more fun and imaginative. Americans began to recapture that “can do” attitude and start up little business with big potential because they had this tenacity and stubbornness to offer the absolute best that they could with no shortcuts and no substitutions.
When craft comes to coffee, like many things, it is fueled by striving to do things better. By purchasing higher quality coffee that comes from small farms in Kenya and Panama and Ecuador with fewer middlemen, we can help farmers and villagers to create more stable economies. With this superior product, roasters and cafes can now strive to do their job as best as possible to offer the most that these precious beans have to offer, and they can show consumers how thinking a bit differently about some things can pay off not only to small farmers and business owners, but also to your body and mind. You learn different tastes, you learn the barista’s name, maybe take a picture of your latte before the milk and crema leaves fade away, and now your local culture seems a bit more valuable to you as well.
Craft means caring and it means quality. Go looking for it and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. You can find it in your coffee cup, you pint glass, and definitely on your plate. It’s a lovely Saturday for a walk, go discover the craft hidden in your town today.
Hayden Kaye is our Master Roaster and head of the Say Interesting Stuff department.