#foodiechats lesson: there are always people to educate about coffee
This past Monday, I learned how many consumers still needed to be exposed to great coffee. It was a very humbling, if not hair-tearing, experience.
Every Monday, there exists a Twitter chat that anyone can participate in called #foodiechats. From what I understand, #foodiechats grew organically- a solid group of Twitter foodies decided to pick a topic every week and then spend an hour and half discussing that topic. The topic is sponsored by a company or organization and the ten questions are released every ten minutes. The chat started in Chicago and has since expanded to all over the world. It becomes the top trending topic in the country every Monday night.
According to the #foodiechats site,
Each week our Twitter Chat averages 20 million impressions, 2 million followers, and over 500 contributors according to Hashtracking.com.
It’s no longer only Twitter, it’s also Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+. Their sponsorship info page is filled with stats, like:
Facebook: The #Foodiechats Team has over 19K Friends and Fans within our company to broadcast your message.
I found #foodiechats from a few of the people I follow using the hashtag every Monday. While I’m not a HUGE foodie, I love talking about food with other people so it wasn’t difficult for me to join in. What I found were people and businesses from all over the country scheduling time in to talk to each other. They were passionate about food, loved sharing recipes and ideas, and generally enjoyed “meeting” new people. Each time I participate in it under @caffentures, I find more people to follow as well as have more follow me back. Granted, five people in the Twittersphere is nothing compared to the number of people out there. But five people who all love to talk about food and naturally share tips with each other? Golden.
Anyway, I digress. On Monday, the topic was “Coffee All Day,” sponsored by coffee roasters, Eight O’Clock Coffee. I was super excited for this chat. Here was this great opportunity to introduce people to my business! People who wanted to talk about coffee! So I made myself a big dinner (if you’re going to talk about food, you need to be full), made sure I was well-caffeinated, and then put my laptop on my fuzzy blanket.
Half an hour into the chat, I wanted to tear my hair out and pour coffee onto my keyboard. I was, from what I could read, the ONLY specialty [black] coffee drinker in the chat. Even the ones who talked about grinding fresh, then went further onto say their tips were putting sugar in their grounds or mixing it up with microwaved whipped cream.
Question 4 was the most telling: What’s your coffee making secret?
First, we have the flavor and creamer lovers:
I put cinnamon in my coffee (four people said great idea)
I add a dash of cinnamon and a piece of dark chocolate to melt in!
A piece of dark chocolate! 🙂
I add my cinnamon in with the grounds and brew it in my coffee – do the same with any spice I want to add.
Put sugar in w/ ground coffee as it brews
heavy Amish whole chocolate milk from Lancaster county pa
lots of flavoring or flavored creamer.
A few swirls of a Peppermint Chocolate-covered Spoon always goes great in #coffee during winter.
egg nog instead of cream
Always use honey for a touch of sweet
Then some funny ones:
Let someone else do it
Stronger the better 😉
Keurig. But now it makes tea instead 🙂
Can’t live without my @Keurig. Good thing @8OClockCoffee makes K-cups 🙂
Fortunate enough to have a Starbucks machine at work. Liquid gold every morning.
Try adding half a shot of whipped cream vodka to your espresso! Adds creamy & sweet & booze!
Some odd ones:
Another little trick for brewing coffee is some clean egg shells or chickory – love that smoke from chicory! & a beignet!
Let Starbucks do it 😉 Shh don’t tell.
Use distilled water!
For me it’s espresso. And can only be made in one way. The Bialetti. pic.twitter.com/Vx2K5iJm
And finally, some saner people:
I grind it fresh from beans everytime
No secret, just freshly ground beans, Peruvian dark roast
Burr grinder and a French press
My coffee making secret is always a shot of booze! LOL. OK, it’s really freshly ground beans & filtered water!
Throw away your french press. Invest in a simple pour over set up.
Sad eyes in the direction of my dude. When that fails: elec. kettle, Fr. press & kitchen scale
Me: Grind fresh coffee, make a hot pourover in the am, store extra immediately in the fridge. Drink the rest in the pm.
Oh wait- I forgot to mention this one (OMGWHY):
I do my milk frothing with a blender and the microwave!
And the ever-lovely, freezer storage tip:
Keep your coffee in the freezer!
But someone responded!
It is horrible for the freshness of the coffee. #FoodieChats The natural oils help with the flavor.
Next question: What do you like to dip into your coffee?
Best thing to dip in coffee is a gingersnap – then when the soggy cookie falls in at least you have gingersnap coffee!
And this is where I stopped trying to read more and just salvage what was left of my sanity.
As you can tell, there aren’t that many people who are drinking coffee black… or even decent coffee to begin with. I didn’t even list out all the answers. There was one mention of a pourover, a few French presses, and two stovetops. I cleared up the awful freezer myth for a few people, and then just kind of dove into bed and cried.
@justdwana @angelawoody @risphoto I’d say airtight container like you can find for flour/sugar would be better. But bullet’s good if clean!
— Caffentures (@Caffentures) November 27, 2012
@risphoto @angelawoody @justdwana @bigbowlbuzz In an airtight container, whole bean, within 2 weeks of the roast date. #foodiechats
— Caffentures (@Caffentures) November 27, 2012
So what did I take away from this?
1) There are an awful lot of people who participate in #foodiechats and drink really poor coffee.
2) Every conversation counts. Pick your battles. As a business, I want to educate consumers SLOWLY. And have a reputation as being receptive to everyone’s taste interests.
Ultimate goal was to build a reputation as a good source of coffee info in the Chicago area (and online). As a business or as a person who wants to build their online reputation, Twitter chats are perfect. They’re easy, don’t take up too much time, and no one can tell if you’re just sitting in your pajamas munching on chips. As a coffee professional, this chat in particular gave insight on what consumers were drinking and talking about.
@caffentures Nice to meet you via Twitter! I had no idea there were tours surrounding COFFEE in Chicago! Sign me up! #foodiechats
— Barbara Maldonado (@bmaldonado) November 27, 2012
This is why whenever people start saying things like “the specialty coffee industry is really getting maxed out,” or “I just don’t think Chicago can support many more independent roasters/specialty coffee shops,” I have to call major bullshit. Not only do we have a very skewed view of how many people drink high quality coffee because of our work and what we see every day, we also have a particular set of “huge cosmopolitan city blinders” that suggest the complete untruth that most people these days seek out good coffee when they want to get caffeinated.
As you said, jenn, every conversation counts, and I find it sometimes very refreshing to interact with folks who are still amazed by the idea that coffee can be AWESOME. The other thing I’ve found helpful, and I think is a happy medium, is to suggest that people take their sugary, syrupy coffee tastes down one notch at a time. You’re not going to win every frappuccino drinker over to black pour-over coffee in the first go. But maybe you can offer them a step in the right direction by suggesting an organic raw sugar simple syrup. I know plenty of people who have been “weaned,” so to speak, off their anything-to-make-it-taste-less-like-coffee preferences by going one step less fake at a time. And sometimes it takes years, as hilariously serious as that sounds.
And, true confessions of a barista, I do, on occasion, treat myself to a Dunkin coffee with that real cream and fake-ass sugar. Yum 🙂
I completely agree about the weaning. The people who are adding in flavored creamers probably are drinking flavorless coffee. If they tried drinking that flavorless coffee black, it’ll put them off of black coffee forever. Everyone started somewhere- I started from vending machine cappuccinos and Dunkin coffee. It’s a progression! I can’t drink Dunkin anymore, but don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone.
P.S. “True Confessions of a Barista” is a great name for a blog….