"The only bad reviews are uneducated ones"
Think about it: You want to go to a restaurant or a wine bar and you want to know what to order. You probably would prefer a reputable source like Wine & Dine Magazine, or some other columnist that was some sort of chef or sommelier to tell you where or what to drink or eat
If you were a food professional, i believe that you would be able to give quality, objective reviews about an establishment rather than some amateur that has too much free time and money to visit restaurants and can't even give an objective review
Same thing goes for coffee. There are too many bad articles about there that fail to describe or encapsulate what a coffee shop, in turn the coffee industry, has to offer. They are uneducated, and fail to describe coffee experiences or focus on coffee as a star product. They use it to fit into their narrative, commenting on the toast or muesli bowls more than a line on what coffees were on the hopper or even things like which filters were being served from which roaster.
There was once i did a pop-up at a friend's coffeeshop featuring some new stuff we had been roasting. I saw an instagram post saying "Quarter Life Coffee Pop Up today. The latte doesn't taste acidic. Same coffee, different barista?"
You see? These people can't even grasp roasting companies as a concept!
"Oh but then now the consumers just want a normal persons view on things. We are not so pro as you"
Look, be ignorant if you want. An amateur does not even have basic knowledge or experiences in the realm of coffee to truly show you what even a "normal person" can enjoy. They have a wider view of the industry and the quality experiences you can have. They know how to cater to different tastes and demographics and present them to you. Like a new filter offering at a roastery, or the silkiest espresso in a neighbourhood (tactile score included) or that new microlot single farm ethiopian coffee everyone is raving about. Is that not useful information that can guide you as a consumer to seek out what you enjoy?
I've seen too many articles cross compare a good independent specialty coffee shop with bad coffee chains as if they were in the same league. And if you compare a small indepedent business to a chain coffee joint, then you're not doing a quality business any favours now, are you?
"Oh but everyone is entitled to their opinion"
I'm not saying that opinions don't matter. I'm saying that there are some people that have a much higher view on things that are better able to perceive and accurately describe an experience without allowing their own personal preferences to get in the way.
Take for example the fact that I don't like Whites and prefer to drink black coffees. That is not to say i cannot identify and excellent white coffee brewed with skill, technique, and a quality roasted coffee. I can imagine that some amatuer food blogger that doesn't like black coffees is going to say that all black coffees are sharp and acidic without fully understanding their own palate or what a product is capable of
AMATEURS ARE KILLING THE INDUSTRY AND HERE'S WHY
The internet is a bad place. Sometimes, it doesn't do good for businesses. Especially specialty coffee businesses. Every time I come across an article by some random cafe hopper or so-called marketing company that decided to visit some cafe on their busiest service and ordered the most re regular, non-descriptive item on the menu, only to thing that it works like Hawker centres that it is going to be somehow a product that they have homogenised is somehow mindblowingly "better" than the other coffee shop down the road without taking into consideration unique characteristics. These people have no basis, context or understanding of the industry or it's sub-culture or their products to even be able to conceive the differences between why the coffee is different
All they can say is ACIDIC or NOT ACIDIC (like their some sort of indicator for good or bad coffee) and NICE LATTE ART before even considering the unique coffees and the unique product offering that a coffeeshop is trying to bring to the market. All they want to see are pretty drinks with boba or something. They have no interest in helping to present unique coffees to their audience. Their lack of understanding and ignorance is like an infectious disease that perpetuates through the minds of the consumer and shuts them out from unique experiences and thus forces the coffee shop to move in predictable and "safe" ways. Honestly, amateur food bloggers are killing the industry
I think we need more writing and reviews that are relevant to the specialty coffee industry. That way, we have a channel that is dedicated to the further development of specialty coffee as a progressive culture in this city. So we can stop dealing with people coming in asking,"is your coffee like Starbucks? I want a vanilla latte"
Written by Byron Lim