It’s Official – Barista’s are plonkers!

Nov 17, 2012



The Speciality Coffee Association of America (SCAA) has released a $200 study which appears to show that whilst US coffee drinkers are willing to pay a premium for coffee which ‘tastes better’, basic trade terms like ‘speciality coffee’ mean little or nothing in the consumer repertoire of quality queues

The study focuses on coffee consumer behaviors, motivations, and perceptions and purports to gain insight from coffee drinkers who tend toward higher price premium beverages, drink coffee daily or more, and who define themselves as “coffee-lovers”

The goal of the report  was to understand more about what constitutes a great cup of coffee among a segment of loyal  and knowledgeable coffee consumers

A total of six focus groups were conducted in two cities, Portland and Los Angeles. In addition to two-hour discussion groups, participants were asked to develop collages to depict what great coffee means to them. This allowed for deeper analysis of motivators (Only in US dear reader!!!)

So this report is going to find out who the ‘speciality coffee consumer’ is, what is their perception of  ‘speciality’, and will define what motivates this specialist consumer to buy ‘their’ chosen coffee – OK!!

Caffe Culture advises –“
A brief summary of the general findings is that while American consumers are aware that there is coffee which is ‘better’, and that they will pay more for it, most consumers don’t know what goes into making some coffee better, or why – just that they like it when they get it.  The concept of ‘speciality’ means very little to them. Some considered ‘speciality’ to mean espresso-based, and some thought it meant an added flavouring.”

All very worrying when you consider that the respondents are pre screened coffee addicts perhaps even self-proclaimed connoisseurs!!



‘Not terribly knowledgeable’ about what constitutes ‘quality’ was apparently the phrase used by the researchers…oh dear!!

 While some respondents seemed knowledgeable and spoke confidently about coffee, much of what they said turned out to be inaccurate!!

Although we may wish to believe that coffee enthusiasts follow coffee blogs and websites… in the main, surprise surprise – they do not!!

Indeed, researchers found that consumers actively  ‘recoiled’ from too much information, and certainly from having it pressed upon them

There is, concluded the researchers, certainly an opportunity to help the consumer define what they understand as ‘better’ coffee

In a parallel exercise, the researchers undertook a round-table debate with American baristas, whose opinions quite noticeably supported the concept of helping consumers gently to experience and enjoy better coffee…. why of course!

The baristas confirmed that consumers are confused about the industry’s terminology, and that there are very few common points of reference between the trade and the consumer.

‘Not surprisingly, there was some bitterness on the part of baristas about not being seen as food and drink professionals’

The researchers compared this to two related opinions from consumers, who said that they were turned off by anything which smacked of fast-food service, of staff uniforms, and by baristas who appeared to work from pre-prepared scripts by their employers.

By contrast, said consumers, were highly engaged by knowledgeable staff and the concept of ‘artisanship’.

“This,” report the researchers, “points to an opportunity to actively elevate baristas as professionals, to build the customer experience.”


You know – the coffee trade as a whole  MUST thank Caffe Culture and the SCAA for re confirming  and officially  documenting what we all knew anyway…!Baristas are waiters only… !! Nothiong more…

They hide behind jargon and inane fact and are confusing, perhaps even turning off consumers from the very notions of speciality , premium and trading up…Leaving them stultifying in the safety of enjoying only what they know, trust and like…

This is not a market evolving and morphing – this is a market headed for stagnation !

Thank god for Aromo – sick of the baloney…then try our Mixed up pack of pure espresso candy and find your little sanctuary!


Guru ( Andy Grelak) writes for Aromo Coffee – They are coffee experts focussed on providing convenient and tasty ways for the caffeine addict to take their medicine. Aromo supplies excellent ESE Coffee pods and superlative Senseo pods,  both of which offer the espresso and filter connoisseur  a no mess, no fuss,  super fresh and environmentally conscious method to make stunning coffee… the guys at Aromo also have a range of Dualit branded capsules which make a brilliant and economic alternative to nespresso capsules

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