I really wanted to meet him and pick his brains about where to start my exploration of Coffee Culture as it relates to Wine Culture, but as with all these meetings, nothing stays on topic for long and we discussed wine, retail, weddings, photography, The Wire, video, culture and more. I love the fact that twitter, and social media in general, allows me to meet such diverse people and start a conversation so readily. I love the fact that we all have experts at hand who are prepared to listen to our questions.
I have lots of new ideas “brewing” and I need to “filter” them into something meaningful, but here are some general thoughts that emerged:
- blending vs. varietals – in both wine and coffee blending is important, but does that art risk diluting the importance of the constituent varietals (grapes & beans) that can be unique, indigenous and differentiating, … or does talking about each part of that blend simply risk confusing and alienating consumers?
- does coffee culture, particularly Down Under, owe much to the style and attitude (friendly, encouraging, fun) of the baristas more than the coffee itself? If so, is there something that sommeliers can learn from?
- coffee and wine have both been successful at getting people to consume them – now how do we get those “consumers” to become “appreciators” and therefore take more time to taste, evaluate and enjoy?
- does the success of a brand (in both coffee and wine) necessarily result in a decline in quality? If so, what is an optimal size to reach a wide audience without losing one’s roots? If not, how is this achieved and what can be learned?
- coffee and wine are both, ultimately, agricultural products intricately linked with the land they come from, to the lives of those who grow the raw materials, and the struggle to make a modern, consistent and mass “product” from a less than reliable Mother Nature
Lots to ponder, and I need to learn more about where coffee comes from and the many ways it can be enjoyed. I do feel that there is a combined “Wine and Coffee” experience event in my near future. Fancy it? How do you see it working?