I Liked Coffee Before It Got Popular

So, there’s this incredibly wonderful fancy industrial-grade coffee maker, The Clover. It costs like ten grand, but that’s not too much more than your standard coffeeshop mega-brewing machine. The difference is that with this one you can program in, cup by cup, exactly the temperature and amount of water and how long it stays in the grounds. It’s become the hot thing among coffee-obsessives, and all the really cool shops were all over them. It got profiles in The New Yorker and Slate and The Atlantic as well as the beverage industry press.

And then Starbucks went and bought the company. And now, as Murketing points out, the cool shops hate them.

It’s not that they suddenly make worse coffee. It’s just that now that Starbucks has it, the excellence isn’t cool anymore: “The saga of its rise, embrace, acquisition and ensuing outcry is a precise, accelerated example of how a well-designed product can become a vessel into which people pour their beliefs, expectations and senses of betrayal; the parallels with Apple run more than just skin deep.”

Now, I understand that independent shops don’t want to be buying machines and supplies and support from their biggest competitor. It’s like Barnes&Noble buying up the book distributors and then using that power to screw the independent bookstores (something which should have been, but was not, blocked by antitrust authorities).

Still: Come on, people. It’s a coffee-maker. It’s not an ethos. It’s not a scene. I can see why cafe-owners would be disappointed, but I don’t see why anyone has any reason to feel betrayed.

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