Solipsistic Narcissism

Here's a post from Sprudge that perfectly captures the kind of reportage (if you can call it that) about specialty coffee I see everywhere today.

It's a riff on a New York Daily News piece that questions the value of a $10 caffe latte. The drink in question is called the Lakkris Latte, and it's described in a link from the main article above:

Lakkrís Latte, a very sweet concoction made with licorice syrup and licorice salt on a base of Tim Wendelboe coffee from Finca Tamana, Colombia.

The balance of the short piece is a bunch of muddled snark about how different coffees are of course worth different prices, about how coffee "expert" Oliver Strand (who's never worked in the coffee industry but apparently qualifies by writing about it and kissing sufficient Third Wave ass) is looking forward to a latte worth $10, and so on. Nowhere in this article, or in any of the writing I see on Sprudge - or by Strand and his ilk, for that matter, does customer perception of value and quality even enter the discussion. The opinion of the folks footing the bill for all of this doesn't even enter the equation. That is what I mean by solipsistic (focused solely on one's own experience) narcissism (smug self-love) having become the main mode of discourse in what passes for coffee journalism these days. 

Do I even need to mention that cinnamon-roasted Colombian coffee doused in licorice syrup, salt and milk is just the kind of terroir-driven, transparent experience of taste of place that coffee farmers everywhere ought to be delighting in? And what a great way to build a consumer base willing to pay for the flavor subtleties inherent in great unadulterated single-origin coffee (the milk and licorice surely just enhance the transparency). 

But as we know, any pricey coffee experience is worth its asking price - as long as it's proffered by a company who "partners" with Sprudge. No wonder they won the S.C.A.A.'s distinguished author award; that kind of integrity just can't be bought. 

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