The hipster barista

A match made in coffee Heaven?

by: Charli Denison | 13 May 2013

The coffee industry is a funny place that attracts funny people.  

There is definitely a stereotypical coffee geek out there. He is the thin guy wearing lens-less glasses, covered in tattoos and sporadic facial hair -  the exact opposite of the self proclaimed “Indiana Jones of Coffee” Todd Carmichael and his TV show Dangerous Grounds.  

Oh the irony of the hipster!

The industry has been a magnet and newfound haven for the hipster community. They pour their cups of ‘single-origin Valhalla’, smug with sniggers aimed at those not in the know of their specific roast.  Okay, so maybe I’m being a little harsh on the industry I love, but just take a look at this satirical video to see what I am talking about – hilarious!

Snobby baristas and pretentious descriptions of coffee are the top two most annoying trends in coffee according to a recent Zagat survey, with one surveyor coming up with the best description: ‘Coffee from a single origin farmer-owned estate on the west side of the mountain under dwarf palm trees, were handpicked by the left-handed traveling troubadour, on a partially sunny Tuesday afternoon during a lunar cycle while an asteroid is approaching’. I mean... really?

Could hipsters be detrimental to the specialty coffee industry?

The hipster trend-creating (or destroying) character could actually be detrimental to the growth of the specialty coffee industry. 

There was a time, a few years ago (before the hipsters discovered it), where it looked like coffee was about to become about the coffee, instead of about the person, the marketing, or the brand.  

However, having said that, there is a lot of passion coming from these young people which is a great positive. At the same time, there seems to be frustration that the work of a barista is not appreciated by the ‘uncooler’ masses as other industries are, such as wine, craft beer and fine dining.

Am I being cynical? Truth be told I do enjoy a pour-over or aeropress coffee that’s been excreted through the bottom end of a ‘wild’ cat or bird as much as the next guy, but the industry as a whole still has a lot to learn.
The unfortunate attitude of so many baristas and roasters the world over is one of arrogant disdain toward those ‘who don’t know’ and their competition.  

It’s damaging. The coffee industry needs to work together, to collaborate, share and learn. Not to be unapproachable, pretentious and intimidating. It’s just a turn-off.

Robert Lopez summarises our hope for the future with the following. ‘We’re left hoping that coffee eventually brings its focus back to the personable relationship between people and the bean. I think that coffee has a really good chance of being sincere and genuine, and both hip and non-hip can enjoy it together in peace.”  

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