Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Coffee good, package bad: The Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company

I like supporting my local businesses as much as the next guy, especially Western Market in Ferndale, because a significant percentage of the meat counter employees know me by name. Besides, they sell their own fresh-squeezed orange juice. On a recent visit to Western, I was stopped on my way to said meat counter by the tantalizing aroma of fresh coffee beans. I just happened to be out of drinkin' beans at my house, so I decided to take a gander at the goods.

It turned out to be wares from the Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company. Great Lakes coffee is so good that I almost feel bad annihilating their packaging here. Almost. If I hadn't previously had it at Mae's, my favorite local restaurant, I never would have bought the dang stuff. See, they have clever yet meaningless names for their coffee -- ones that give no hint of what kind of beans, and therefore flavors, are inside. What's the Corktown Blend? What's the Triple Threat? On top of that, all of their bags I have seen have the exact same dripping-with-snob essay on the back.

As the folks at Cabo Chips know, I am no stranger to dissecting a food essay, so here we are again.

"Great Lakes coffee is not for you[1]. You should stop reading this immediately and drive to the closest coffee chain drive-thru[2]. We roast coffee an an old-fashioned drum roaster. If our roaster were any smaller we would have to use nanotechnology[3]. We think small when it comes to coffee. Our narrow-minded focus on coffee is just plain wrong[4]. You probably are not prepared to be burdened with so much information about where the coffee is grown, how it is processed, particular flavor characteristics and the many brewing options[5]. Why don't you just get a cup of regular coffee? Life is too complicated for options like organic and fair trade certifications or micro-lots of coffee from specific coffee growing regions[6]. You probably want something that's just hot and black like a lump of coal[7]. Just remember, by choosing not to engage in what you are drinking, you still have made a choice.[8, 9]"

1. Weeds out normies and sensitive people, thus limiting potential customer base.
2. Sure, I will just abandon my grocery cart.
3. Joke for people who read Wired magazine.
4. We aspire to be like Philip Morris.
5. Is this why you didn't bother to tell me what sort of coffee is in the bag I am holding?
6. Does this coffee have all of these characteristics?
7. Or Beyonce.
8. You didn't give me much of a choice when you made your packaging so vague.
9. Nice Rush reference.

If you're a luck-of-the-draw kind of coffee drinker who requires something better than brown water, go ahead and get some Great Lakes coffee. If you're Great Lakes coffee, please consider being a bit more specific about your beans.


Chris Salmonson said...

I drink Coffee Express a.k.a. Mountain Country Coffee out of Plymouth. I became hooked on it while living in Kalamazoo and now their product is easy to find in markets around here. It is also nice to buy it by the pound and not just an 8 ounce bag

Mike Hudson said...

Plus...it's not that much better than the chains. Fresher. Wordier.

rhops said...

Do you know they roast the coffee right down the street from Organic? Go to the roastery and ask for the nickel tour - they will show you around the facility and give you a free sample espresso.

Mike said...

Good tip, rhops. Someone said the same thing on Foursquare.

NEON KICKS said...

..beyonce is pretty hot.

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