Written by Nick Heer.

On ‘Good’ Coffee

Jason Diamond, the Melt:

That was always my problem with the rise of the coffee snob. And, again, I’m not saying you, the person with all your gadgets at home to make your perfect French press or espresso on your machine. The real-life versions of Ari Spyros from Billions, the compliance officer obsessed with his office setup is, honestly, goals. I wish that I took that much interest in the coffee I make. But I don’t. I do buy certain beans and I researched my grinder and coffee maker, but the truth is that I live in a city with countless options to just walk outside my door and get a coffee from and the idea is that since they all charge the same price that they should all serve good coffee.

And yet, that’s never the case. This is a very arbitrary assessment, but of the six (yes, six (I do live in Brooklyn, remember) places I could count that are all within eight minutes of my home (I timed these and rounded down to eight, I swear I didn’t just pick a number at random) that serve “specialty” coffee from roasters like Sey or Counter Culture, Partners or Intelligentsia, where the average price of a small coffee is four dollars, I’d say that four of those places just aren’t worth the cost. The coffee just isn’t that good. The two-dollar cup I get at the bodega does the trick.

I have a similar number of “good” coffee places within a short walk of my house. As with Diamond’s experience, only a few of these are actually decent. There are many places which have good beans from roasters I trust, made on all the “right” equipment by people who appear to care — and it just comes out all wrong. The atmosphere is wrong, too: one of the places near me has Edison bulbs and reclaimed wood everywhere, and it feels like it came from a kit; another place is a mix of a coffee shop, coworking space, and retail for clothing and knick-knacks. You do not need to be a snob to recognize that beneath the pastiche of specialty coffee is a seeming lack of care from the top down.