In re: Lowbrow Brewing?

“Should a cup of coffee should be a rich, sensory experience or a cheap chemical fix? Like most things, it depends on what you’re willing to pay.” Dwell’s Kitchen blog

coffeebeans.jpgCaffeine is the worlds most used (or abused?) drug and for many of us we get our daily fix from coffee, although there is an ever expanding world of drinks that are infused with it. As many of you know that despite my love of coffee I shun the Folgers-esq coffees of the world and most recently have started my own coffee club at work to avoid the break room Aramark blend. Coffee has an interesting history I’ve found (I just recently started in on Starbucked: A Double Tall Tale of Caffeine, Commerce, and Culture and learned a few things already that were quite interesting aside from the early beginnings of the Starbucks brand – also an interesting subject). While that book was written while Starbucks could do no wrong, it seems that others have noticed (including McDonalds) and now the quest for caffeine dollars is in full force (with the profit margins on $4 coffee drinks how could you not want to get into it?)

Starbucks has responded by going after the low priced folks (at least testing it) by introducing in a test market a $1 ‘short’ coffee (remember tall is kinda their small).  See story on it here in The Times (UK).  Will it work? Only time will tell, but it could tarnish the luster on the premium priced brand, or it could bring in traffic who will be converted to their milk drinks (it was the latte I learned in the book that really made Starbucks a success) in fact Starbucks is more in the business of selling milk, as coffee prices are pretty low for them compared to milk. In any event Americans who think they like espresso don’t – according to the book – they like big milk drinks with espresso in them and some flavors and sugar to boot.

At the other end of the equation is of course highbrow brewing, including Siphon coffee (see NY Times article ‘At Last, a $20,000 Cup of Coffee‘ (Sadly the story doesn’t qualify for my most expensive postings, since its the machine not the cup that costs $20k, the machine is also mentioned in the Times story above on Starbucks as they have apparently bought two of these brewers).


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