I noticed something when I re-posted (and boosted) the second part of my “Instant Coffee, Is It Kape?” series on Facebook: there were still some comments encouraging commercial Instant Coffee (yes, some even pushed this popular brand). If you’ve read that piece, I put some effort to try and show how commercial Instant Coffee can be detrimental for the coffee farmers and even the environment, yet people still encourage drinking commercial Instant Coffee in the comments for that post. Look, if you want to drink Instant Coffee then fine – I just want you to know the possible consequences for exclusively drinking commercial Instant Coffee.
Now I’m known to stretch topics to make content on this blog, and yes that’s what I’m going to do now. I say that commercial Instant Coffee remains relevant because it’s something most of us have known for most our lives. It’s familiar, it’s easily accessible, and it’s marketed to us so good that nobody ever notices that none of these focus on the taste of the coffee. Rather, they focus on the experiences you associate drinking it with. It’s marketed as the fuel for the working class, for the people who worked hard to achieve their goals, to those who dreamed and actually achieved their dreams. It’s genius.
In fact, the times when marketing for commercial Instant Coffee focuses on the taste are when it’s in the coffee mix form and by then it has so much other ingredients that they’re actually talking about the additives, not the taste of the Instant Coffee itself. Now, as I tried with my amateurish experiment when I had my household blind test tree types of coffee, the taste of commercial Instant Coffee itself and on its own is just bad. James Hoffman really showed this by his bracket challenge, blind tasting a lot of Instant Coffee and none of the Big Supermarket brands made it to the “Finals” stage. He looked like he didn’t have fun doing it either.
Now think about it, how are specialty coffee “marketed”? It’s almost always focuses on the taste, the more complex the better. Like what I’ve said in a previous post, specialty coffee can be intimidating and not just because of its price. In a way, specialty coffee is not relatable to most people. Some will make a case that’s exactly how it should be, reserved for those discerning enough to understand (and afford) it. No matter how expensive coffee is sold that way, it will still be a struggle to break even.
That is why I think Instant Coffee is still relevant: not only does it have the advantage cost wise, but it also has the advantage of being kind of the champion of the people. If you don’t thread carefully and just “attack” commercial Instant Coffee, you’ll be discredited as a coffee elitist. I know it’s frustrating but sometimes even when you try to be objective, people will still choose to believe in something they’ve known so long and can relate to even if that something is inherently bad. This isn’t just true for coffee, but for a whole range of things – including governments.
Third Wave Coffee tastes good, it helps the farmers, it’s more beneficial for the environment in so many ways – but would everyone really care about that? It’s the coffee that we need, yes, but how can we effectively let people know that without driving them away? Commercial Instant Coffee tastes like crap, but it’s what the people wants – we all know that needs to change but how?
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Categories: thoughts with kape
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