Thursday, November 27, 2008

Coffee Culture USA: A Documentary

I recently was sent the documentary Coffee Culture USA, what looked like an insightful look into the coffee culture, and so I hunkered down recently to see what they had constructed.

On the positive side, the film really captured a lot of small coffee-based businesses across the US, several of them with some very noble motives (to support positive teen interactions, keeping the family legacy alive, etc). Overall, the film seemed to accurately portray the commonly construed coffee culture of the US. And that dovetails right into why I didn't like the film.

The shared theme throughout the whole film seemed to be that people largely get into the coffee business for all kinds of reasons EXCEPT to serve amazing coffee (one coffeehouse actually went into business to lure people in using a cooperative bail bond business!). Sure the film also featured a (seemingly) bona fide Kona company as well as some pretty interesting thoughts from Alfred Peet, but everything else seemed to shove the coffee quite far from the point of the culture. Don't get me wrong, there can be other motives to starting/running a coffeehouse but you have to also serve a quality product (Alfred actually made a similar remark somewhere in the middle).

I gotta say this film made me sad. Maybe it's because the film captured a lot of what bothers me with the coffee world. Maybe it's also because it actually does somewhat accurately reflect the sad current state of the US coffee culture. Whatever the reason, I still stick to my hope that a lot of these troubling facets of the coffee culture will soon shape up.

Thus, check out Coffee Culture USA if you're looking for a taste of the current state of affairs in the coffeehouse realm. But if you're one deeply enamored with quality coffee and you're easily depressed
, you might want to hold off.


BoldJava said...

I find that the coffee culture is like any other retail/product line in the US. There are excellent roasters and poor ones; great houses and some that miss the mark terribly.

As for me, I roast my own and am rarely disappointed. When it comes to the best local shops, I know them. Support those that measure up and keep walking by those that don't.

Dave Borton

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Anonymous said...

I would like to see it, but as I am in Portugal, I can't! :(
Do you know how can I see the video?