The craft revolution helped create the specialty coffee market

Authenticity is an ambiguous concept – what one might find authentic might be seen as elitist by others.

This article by Pierre-Yann Dolbec, Concordia University originally appeared on Conversation and is posted here with permission.

The artisanal revolution is everywhere: craft beers, specialty coffees, artisanal soaps and artisanal ice cream. While some may think it’s mindless snobbery, others revel in the aesthetics of handcrafted experiences.

The artisanal revolution is often seen as a reaction against excessive industrialization or as a means of keeping traditions and culture alive in the face of a homogenized and corporatized world. Instead of favoring the pursuit of profit, craft businesses and professions participate in the development of creative professions. They are driven by an aesthetic commitment, a creative expression and an aspiration to quality.

Craftsmanship gives professionals the ability to create unique products that match their personal visions. This helps creators stand out and express their identity through their work.

Craftsmanship arouses the growing desire of producers and professionals for aesthetic commitment, creative expression and aspiration for quality. The coffee market offers us a range of resources and cultural expressions, such as ‘artisanal’, ‘connoisseur’, ‘craftsman’ and ‘coffee snob’.

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The values ​​and beliefs behind craftsmanship and aesthetic commitment, creativity and quality have seeped into many markets including barbering, beer, butcher, chocolate, cocktails, tattoos, food, denim, fashion, motorcycles and coffee.

Between 1991 and 1998, the number of specialty coffee shops in the United States grew from 1,650 to approximately 10,000. In 2015, there were 31,490 specialty stores. Specialty coffee now accounts for more than half of the $48 billion retail value of the US market.

This increase in demand and popularity for an artisan approach to a consumer good has shifted much of the market to artisan values ​​and beliefs.

Values ​​and beliefs

Companies conduct their business based on key values ​​and beliefs. Craft businesses undertake their endeavors for aesthetic engagement, creative expression and an aspiration for quality. In contrast, commercial firms such as McDonald’s McCafé and Tim Horton’s focus on maximizing profits.

Consequently, each type of enterprise, commercial or artisanal, innovates in a different way. In coffee, artisan businesses have pushed for methods of growing, processing, roasting and brewing coffee to bring out the distinctive flavors of specific coffee beans associated with their origin, terroir (how the circumstances of its growth affect its taste) and their varieties.

Innovative products, such as the Kruve Coffee Strainer, the Decent DE1+ Espresso Machine, or the Weber EG-1 Coffee Grinder, all share the same key feature: giving baristas and consumers more control over coffee brewing variables. coffee so they can perfect the coffee. aesthetic experience.

Business enterprises introduce products that have profit potential. Starbucks’ infamous Pumpkin Spice Latte, Nespresso Vertuo, and Tim Horton’s recently launched line of espresso drinks don’t care about the coffee experience or bringing out the distinctive flavors of a bean. Rather, they provide consumers with fun, affordable, or convenient products and services that help increase business profit margins.

craft language

Whatever the values ​​and beliefs of artisanal or commercial enterprises, it is the interactions between them that drive markets like coffee to become more artisanal. Commercial companies are inspired by the desire for aesthetic commitment and creativity of craft companies.

They borrow from the vocabulary that craft companies have brought to the coffee market, like Dunkin’ Donuts’ “Handcrafted” coffee drinks or Nespresso coffee pods “inspired by” Brooklyn and Melbourne baristas.

They automate the complicated, ritualistic coffee-making processes of artisan baristas, increasing profitability but also introducing everyday consumers to some aspects of artisan coffee-making.

Craft businesses aesthetically engage in business innovation. They process the Pumpkin Spice Latte using artisanal syrup and selected spices that ideally match the taste characteristics of a specific coffee bean. Some craft companies have also taken advantage of the convenience offered by pod machines and developed their own versions to provide consumers with the ability to experience premium coffee at home.

Over time, these interactions evolve the market as a whole, bringing artisanal values ​​and transforming the experience for all consumers.

Commitment, expression and authenticity

The complexities associated with artisanal products have also allowed people to develop and distinguish themselves through their tastes. Cultural resources and expertise are essential in how we express ourselves and define who we are.

The artisanal revolution has favored the professionalization of many fields. Professions such as barber, butcher, barista and mixologist are now imbued with high cultural cachet. He also supported the emergence of new identities, from coffee connoisseurs to bearded villains to cocktail nerds.

Some have argued that craftsmanship offers more authentic products, perhaps because craftsmanship creates a kind of one-to-one relationship between producer and consumer that is different from the standardized mass production that dominates so much of our economy. But while the creative expression of artisans can be found in their products and presentation, commercial enterprises have become adept at imitating the artistry of craft professionals, making it difficult to identify which is which.

Authenticity is an ambiguous concept – what one might find authentic might be seen as elitist by others. Perhaps the success of craftsmanship could lie in its ability to tap into our nostalgic working ideals and our growing desires to connect with the origins of products, the stories and the people behind them.

Pierre-Yann Dolbec, Assistant Professor in Marketing and Research Chair in Complexity and Markets, Concordia University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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