The Disconnect

Our little Northwest city is having a bit of a boom right now, and finally "Third Wave" coffee shops are starting to pop up in our little corner of the world. Third wave coffee roasters tend to have a different roasting style then their 1st and 2nd wave brethren. The coffee tends to be roasted on the lighter side, and single origin coffees dominate the market as opposed to blends. As a coffee enthusiast I am enamored. I've been waiting for this to happen for a few years. As a coffee professional in a 2nd wave city where dark roasted coffees are king I am concerned. Then, I thought that maybe preferences have changed? So I decided to do a very unscientific Facebook survey to see what people are drinking, and spending on coffee these days. 

Preferred Coffee Roast

As you can see by my very unscientific chart most people preferred a dark roasted coffee. In fact no one in my survey said they preferred a light roasted coffee but I do, so I decided to count myself. Of the 18 responses most of the 'Hamsters' preferred a dark roast. The "depends on my mood" people were all from larger cities and a good majority of medium roast lovers are currently living in the Midwest. 

I specifically tried to call out to average consumers, and not people that work or have worked in the specialty coffee industry. 

How much do you spend on coffee in a week?

Spending habits seemed more flexible. Generally most people spent between $10-20 a week. This included drinks out as well as a bag of coffee at home. My Aunts and Uncles seemed to spend the least, and not wanting to spend more than $6.99 per pound.But, they adjust this expectation when they travel to different places.  My friends in larger cities said that would spend $25-30 for a bag of "really good coffee." It would seem in my very unscientific study that people are willing to spend more on coffee if they know the quality is there and if they do not have to make it. 

All this is to say that I think there is a disconnect between what we are producing as an industry and what consumers want to buy. And, while a certain style may work in bigger cities where people are more adventurous does that mean it will work in other places too? I don't know. That's why I'm asking. How much "education" will consumers tolerate, and how do we go about it in a way that doesn't make us all seem like the stereotypical snobby Barista?