A coffee professional once asked me rhetorically, “Does it really matter what coffee bloggers say?” Which, since we’re being rhetorical, let’s just ask, “Do bloggers actually have influence?” My answer to both is a definitive yes.
Let’s define “coffee blog” as “a blog which main topic is coffee.” Simple, right? There are a number of coffee blogs out there, authored by all sorts of people. Writers span a whole origin scope: coffee enthusiasts, home baristas, coffee businesses, equipment reviewers, individual coffee professionals (from baristas to green bean buyers)… this list goes on and on. By sheer numbers, there are tons of coffee blogs. But by quality and consistency for specialty coffee, I’d argue that there are only a few dozen coffee blogs.
And here, I’d like to pose another question: “Should people who don’t know anything about coffee be writing about coffee?” I’d answer with another definitive yes. If you don’t want to read about someone’s exploration into K-Cups and cool recipes, then guess what? It’s the Internet. No one’s making you read it.
There are worse things to be writing about. We could be telling people how to diffuse bombs without knowing how to diffuse bombs (see forum). (Big Brother, if you’re watching, I swear I’m a peaceful citizen.) The reason why this blog challenge exists is because I believe not enough people in the coffee industry, or just coffee enthusiasts in general, are writing about their experiences.
“But Jenn,” you tell me. “I’m not a very good writer.”
Oh hi, reader, I’m not that good, either.
“And who wants to read about my experiences?”
I do! And if I do, I bet someone else does, too!
In 2011, I participated (and succeeded) in NaNoWriMo and learned that I cannot write [good] fiction under pressure. My dialogue read like awful lines from a play, scripted by a corny pun-loving dad. For example, see my imaginary dialogue above.
The point is, there are a handful of coffee blogs out there that people in the coffee industry respect and read consistently. People who are doing great things, interesting things. What you read influences what you do, whether you want it to or not.
(1) agree with the blogger’s point of view,
(2) disagree with the blogger’s POV,
(3) be indifferent with the blogger’s POV.
In any case, your resulting reaction could be:
(1) talk/think about the post
(2) choose to ignore the post
In coffee, it’s the same way. You read about a new pourover technique and you either (1) want to try it or (2) don’t want to try it. But now you have the knowledge that this new pourover technique exists… the result of someone blogging about it. And if you try it, you could write about your experience with the new technique and help improve it! You’re not only supporting the blogger, but also expanding on their experience to create your own. Cue soft music.
We’re all learning together.
So back to that question: “Should people who don’t know anything about coffee be writing about coffee?” Still a yes. The further into the professional world you go, the more you need to be refreshed on the average consumer. Budding coffee enthusiasts ask tons of basic questions, often whys and hows- very much like toddlers do about life. We in the coffee industry need that fresh perspective to keep us on our toes. So they start with asking about civet coffee. Keep the eye-rolling to yourself and be thankful that they’re questioning something in coffee. Here’s someone who wants to learn! Isn’t that our endgoal in the coffee industry? To have consumers who care about our products?
And “Do bloggers actually have influence?” By now, I hope you already know that many people have figured out a way to make a living out of blogging. Even those without a monetary goal have garnered a loyal readership. With social media today, it’s so easy to find and access these blogs. There’s no arguing here that bloggers have influence.
Does it really matter what coffee bloggers say?
At least they’re being proactive and writing about their experiences. Coffee is global. This industry is ever-changing. Who’s documenting it? How can we compare what someone in Chicago is doing to what someone in New York is doing if no one is writing about it? Unless someone is stashing a TARDIS (if you are, let’s be friends), we can’t travel in space and time to compare notes.
So to you, reader-who’s-not-a-very-good-writer, it doesn’t matter. Just write. Please blog about coffee. Please help our industry question itself, challenge itself, and improve on itself. We need more people to share their experiences so the coffee industry can grow.
This post was my contribution to #blogchallengewk2. See the other participating posts below: