First of all, I call dibs on “Last Kid Picked” as a name for a band.
Now that I’ve effectively bunny-trailed before even getting to my subject, I’m tempted to just quit now. I would probably be wise to just let this subject drop.
Nah. Let’s rattle some cages, shall we?
What’s it take for companies to get noticed and be considered “relevant”, “cool”, “cutting-edge”, and “trend-setting” by specialty coffee professionals? Why does it sometimes feel like specialty coffee operates like high school, with its demographics of jocks, nerds, cheer squads, losers, goths, et cetera, ad infinitum? Who decided on this division of people, anyway?
After all, wasn’t it Ben Franklin that said, “We must all hang together, or most assuredly we will all hang separately”?
I understand we’re all competing for a slice of the pie. I understand that some of us are ambitious enough to want another slice of pie. But there’s enough pie to go around, if we understand that all those people out there drinking over-roasted, under-extracted, hyped-by-millionaire-spin-doctors for billionaire-companies, doesn’t-deserve-the-label coffee are our future clientele.
See, we don’t need each other’s slice of pie. There’s plenty of pies. Second-waver pies. Yeah, I said that.
I know, all of you (who am I kidding, I’ll be lucky if it’s actually a “both of you”) are thinking, “Dude, who ARE you? Don’t you realize that we’ve been fighting the Green Mermaid for YEARS!?” Yeah, actually, I do get that.
….so why are you competing for the customers the other legit direct-trade, roast-dated, coffee-cupping roasters or shops are currently serving?
“We’re NOT doing that!”
Ok, if I’m all wet, and totally off the mark, then why the apparent exclusivist mindset when it comes to attending open coffee events hosted by those with whom you’re “not competing?”
See, I’m kind of an outsider in the coffee industry. I have no official company affiliation. I like all my coffee friends, doesn’t matter what company they represent. I want to see ALL of them get the recognition and respect they deserve, because every one of them works hard to earn that recognition and respect.
But sometimes, it seems like we’re still on that playground at school. And this is what I see: most of the kids are going about what they do, and having a good time doing it. There’s a kickball game about to begin, and kids are lined up, waiting to be picked to play. Sure, not all of them have the same mad kickball skills, but everyone wants to play. So, one by one, kids are chosen, Team A, Team B…all the way down to that last kid. And nobody wants him on their team.
He should be the first kid picked, simply because, when he got in that line, HE KNEW he wasn’t the most qualified, most gifted kid in line, but he got in line anyway because it was WORTH being picked LAST as long as he got a chance to play.
Kids like that have guts. Kids like that grow up to change the world. Sometimes.
Sometimes they give up, and become whiny kids that blame their problems on someone else. But hopefully not.
Why am I saying all this? I don’t know. Maybe because I just needed to get it out of my system.
But, if you stuck around to this point, remember these points:
- There’s no value in picking fights by constantly rubbing another’s nose in their own failures.
- Whining about why nobody invited you to the party makes you less likely to be invited to the next one.
- Rockstar baristas and rockstar roasters are so passe’. It’s time to focus on teamwork, instead.
- No one likes to be the last kid picked. Put yourself in their shoes. Empathize. Act accordingly.
- Just because a company has a great marketing program and cool stickers, doesn’t make them better.
- Quit drinking the kool-aid. Think for yourself.