“Instant. I don’t want that fancy stuff!” scolds my dear grandmother as I’m preparing coffee.
Three generations drinking three different types of coffee. Gran takes instant, some milk, a spoonful of sugar. Dad switches on the Nespresso machine and loads the pod. And I carefully measure out 17g of specialty coffee for my Aeropress.
I’m acutely aware that we’re all silently watching and judging one another’s method, like some psychological Mexican standoff. I usually break the silence with a conceited “I can’t believe how much sugar is in one of those pods” or “I think you’d like the Aeropress, Gran”. She sends me a sharp look that, quite frankly, transcends generations.
I realise that coffee is a useful indicator of just how profoundly we’re moulded by our environment and what we expect from products and services.
Growing up my Gran was accustomed to tea. Then, popularised by Maxwell House and Nescafe, instant coffee really became mainstream in the 60s and 70s and this is when she was properly indoctrinated. At that time instant coffee was exotic and sophisticated. Gran became accustomed and favourable to the taste, and content with how easy it is to make it.
Dad was born in the early 60s. Growing up, instant coffee was starting to really find its feet and branch out in terms of flavour and availability. He has lived through (arguably) the most profound sprint of technological change in history. Unlike his previous generation, he has fully embraced this and remains passionately curious about, and open to, new technologies.
It’s a logical conclusion that the Nespreso machine is how he prefers his coffee.
I’ve grown up dangerously blasé about technology and its impact on my life. I’ve never known the hardships of living on rations or in poverty. Via the internet I’ve had visual, almost tangible, access to the most remote parts of the world. Like many others of my generation, I view coffee as a way to explore a foreign part of the world and I’m happy to pay a premium for that. The entire experience of purchasing, preparing and consuming the coffee is what appeals to me.
“The product is simply a vehicle for an experience. This is something that applies not only for coffee, but for virtually every product or service I use.”
The product (in this case coffee) is simply a vehicle for an experience. I’d go as far as to say this is something that applies not only for coffee, but for almost every product or service I use.
Our values, ideals, preconceptions and decisions are profoundly affected by our environment. And our values and ideals affect what we look for in any experience.
I suppose what I’m really trying to say is that there’s no right or wrong way to enjoy coffee – something this sanctimonious Aeropress coffee-drinker millennial finds worth remembering.
Extra: SCAA carried out a fantastic study on coffee consumption. Even if you’re not a big coffee fan, it contains many interesting insights into modern consumer behaviour and drivers. Just sayin’.