Who’s threatening us now? “Coffee experts”!!

In a profile of Aida Batlle, a coffee grower in El Salvador, The New Yorker blows the lid on coffee’s imitation of wine. Check out all the ways how these above-average Joes are threatening us now:
* using word “terroir”
* rise of estate labeling
* a focus on harvesting good fruit
* existence of a barista guild certification
* frequent use of blind tastings, known as “cuppings”
* stating that coffee pros like their coffee served slightly cooler because it releases more aromatics at a lower temperature
* obsessing over gadgets, such as a $100 burr grinder

Hey, “coffee experts,” back off! We wine geeks already have all these areas covered. And on the iPad version of the story, they even have the gall to offer an instructional video of how to brew coffee. Come on, we know that wine has a monopoly on “how to serve” videos on the web! Next thing you know, “coffee experts” will be spitting their java into a Jets bucket!

One thing they dare bring to blind tasting is rigor. Get this: in the Cup of Excellence program, “judges must be able to describe samples the same way when they are presented at different tables, in different orders.” And the story’s protagonist nails her own coffee when a cheeky barista in Red Hook tried to trick her in a cupping!

But don’t worry, wine geeks, we still have one thing they don’t: point scores! Yes, I pity the “coffee experts,” since they are not able to substitute a subjective experience with the false pretense of objectivity–we still have that one covered!

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27 Responses to “Who’s threatening us now? “Coffee experts”!!”

  1. This is all old news out here on the Left Coast — save for the Jets bucket. The coffee shop around the corner from me does cuppings twice a week. And I have had my palate insulted by coffee clerks twice in the last few months. for expressing preferences that were outside the accepted version of cool.

  2. Fortunately, they are only “Coffee experts” and not “god of Coffee”… so we are still ONE UP over them! Cheers…

  3. Amen on the points thing Doctor!
    When will the wine industry learn that?

  4. Ciao Dr Vino,
    Check this article from France where I am working on that for now 5 years.
    Cheers (with a cup of Yergacheffe !)

  5. Dr. Vino,

    I cannot speak for the high-end coffee community as a whole when I say; please calm down. No one is “threatening” you. Your vineyards and high-class tasting rooms will continue to go unsullied by the collective coffee masses. All we ask is for you to try to understand our passion before you dictate to us what we are and are not allowed to do. If you took the time to learn anything about coffee, you would learn that the agriculture of coffee is highly similar to wine, the processing of coffee is similar to wine, and that coffee is scientifically proven to be 10x more complex than wine.

    Dr Vino, we are not threatening you in any way. The coffee community that I know is passionate about bringing a commonly consumed product to a higher level. To suggest that the wine community has some sort of ownership over terms like “terroir” or that they are the only ones who are allowed to frequently use blind taste testing is just absurd.

    I will consent that wine has been elevated to a position of reverence and art. All I am asking is that you respect our efforts to elevate yet another beverage to a position that it is worthy of.

    Thank you and please have a wonderful day.

    Coffee Expert
    Coffee Trainer
    Proud member of the Barista Guild of America

    PS, If you’re going to be mad at us for all the reasons listed above, then you better not look into high-end tea. That will really get your undies in a twist.

  6. At least we don’t have a wine equivalent of Kopi Luwak, or as it is also known ‘Cats Ass Coffee’ which is eaten by a civet cat then crapped out and collected to make a no doubt aromatic cup.
    This stuff tastes like crap!

  7. Did you know that your cork texture background makes your entire blog unreadable?

  8. After I sent my comment, the text was presented on a white background. Is this a feature?

  9. Hmm, I’m 98 points on this 🙂

  10. Also, just remembered this, coffee is graded on a points system. 80-100 points is the range for Specialty Coffee. Guess we stole that from you too.

  11. Hate to tell you, bro, but we’ve got numerical scoring too.


    But hey, don’t worry, the *absolute* top of the line coffee has a unit price of $3.12/cup at home, $12/cup at the cafe, so you’ve still got “spending too much money” on us.

    -A coffee expert/BGA member/a person who gets the joke 😀

  12. Doc, I’m real sorry, but we do have numerical scores on our coffee.


    But hey, the most highly graded coffee in the world only costs $3.50/cup in the home and $12/cup in a cafe, so you’ve still got “spending the most money” on us.

    -A Coffee Expert/Barista Guild Member/Person who gets the joke

  13. When a person is so defensive, it shows that they are feeling threatened. Are you threatened by the beer industry? Whisky? Chocolate? Tea? Do you know how many other beverage and food industries share your terminology? Terroir is not a wine term. It’s a term the denotes differences in whatever the affected product, due to the landscape and environment that the product derrived from. Relax. It will be ok. You will still have beautiful wines, no matter how delicious coffee gets. You will still be able to taste wine blindly, no matter how many other industries do the same. Being sour and angry does not go with your theme, “Wine talk that goes down easy.” This is A: Not wine Talk. B: Does not instigate comradery and community, but stirs up problems.

    I wish you happy drinking, and happier conversation.

  14. Wake up and smell the coffee, people, this post is meant to be funny!

  15. As the current chair of the Barista Guild of America, let me just say thank you for including our Certification in your post. We’re very proud of the fact we have a way to strengthen the quality of baristas everywhere through a certification process, and the fact that you know about it makes me happy. Cheers.

  16. Well, Dr. Vino, at least they clearly have no interest in stealing our sense of humor!

  17. Great one Doc!

  18. Dear Dr. Vino,

    I promise not all coffee geeks are as humorless as some of these commenters. Your sense of fun about all this came through in your post.

    The overlap between coffee and wine aficionados is pretty extensive. Long time coffee pros generally have a fine appreciation for the vine.

  19. Dr. Vino,

    This Dr. Coffee! Hope this note finds you well.
    I am a former food & beverage executive professional and wine aficionado that travelled the world and visited on the top wineries in the new world and old world. Still love wine but i wouldn’t be so critical of one the top industry in the globe.
    When i decided to go into coffee business i learned that coffee tree had many similarities to a vine. Just a matter of education! Not even to talk about that coffee is the second largest commodity after oil, what does tell you?
    Anyway, if you travel to coffee regions of the world you will understand that coffee shrub, harvest, transporting, storage, roasting, and all the coffee processing are just complex or even more than wine.
    I am sure that our coffee aficionados will forgive you, just a matter of education will change your perception. Unless you don’t want to learn…

  20. I’m aware that there is a very intense coffee culture, but I’m content to stick with my carmel truffel coffee topped with frothed skim milk, sifted cocoa, and shaved chocolate.

  21. What next, grands crus coffees? Oh, wait …

  22. Who says there’s no points for coffee? Here’s the Coffee Review with the 100 point scale:


  23. Of course!
    Soon we are going to have grand cru, premier cru, coffea du pais, vintage, etc…
    Just wait! Don’t be jealous yet!
    More to come!
    By the way, I am certified Sommelier as well…

  24. Commentards, unite! They shall not besmirch our sacred Jets buckets with their lowly beverage!

    “If you took the time to learn anything about coffee” SALUTE.

    Love, Your Friendly Neighborhood STICKERMEISTER

  25. […] imitation as flattery? From the coffee threatdown files: Starbucks will extend its wine bar concept with up to seven locations in Chicago. Make it a […]

  26. Will there be entire conventions about local coffee?
    (And can you imagine the pranks you could pull in a ballroom full of caffeinated people?)

  27. There are more identified flavor elements in coffee than in wine. We will wait for the wine folks to catch up…

    As for Kopi Luwak… Sure. I won’t ever touch it, but then again, there is plenty of wine sold in cardboard boxes.


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