How To Not Be A Coffee Snob
Written by: Garrett Oden
So you’re learning a lot about coffee, huh?
Starting to realize how little most coffee lovers out there know compared to you?
Don’t let it go to your head.
We both know those coffee snobs who look down at everyone else for not knowing the difference between bourbon and typica genetic coffee varieties.
That’s silly. Coffee snobs are silly.
Coffee should unify us. It gives everyone on Earth common ground. It shouldn’t be a point of tension or disrespect.
But, once you start learning a lot about coffee, the transformation to snob can happen easily. So let me help you out, from one former snob to you. Let’s keep you from becoming the snob you’ve always despised.
Step 1: Reality Check
So you’ve learned about brewing methods, coffee fundamentals, and how it’s grown.
Even though 9 of 10 of coffee lovers don’t know as much as you, that doesn’t make you an expert exactly.
Let’s be honest: here’s so much more to learn that matters on a bigger scale.
- Like how to keep farmers from going bankrupt and ditching coffee
- Like how to protect plants from the devastating coffee rust disease
- Like how to empower vulnerable women working in coffee communities
- Like how to train buyers to respect the needs of partner farms
These kinds of things will determine whether the coffee industry falls apart or stays healthy in the coming decades.
Your vast knowledge of brewing coffee at a high level is incredible (don’t want to downplay that), but there are thousands of people out there solving big problems in coffee. In the grand scale, you’re not a world expert - and that’s just fine.
I remember the high horse I rode on - and how it fell over. The more I learned about coffee, the more I realized I knew very little. So keep learning, keep exploring, and find wonder and fascination rather than snobbery.
Let the sense of awe drive you - not the pride of expertdom.
Step 2: Learning To Speak In Public
There’s something about becoming knowledgeable about coffee that causes people to unlearn everything they know about being polite in conversations.
All of the sudden, every minor detail that’s incorrect must be corrected. Every false idea must be put down without delay.
Misunderstandings about how coffee is made or brewed are not the end of the world. By all means, tell whoever is wrong that there’s a better way to think about the idea or give them some information that adds insight into the issue.
But you don’t have to be a coffee bully.
Not every single interaction is right for making these corrections.
You don’t have to correct false ideas with the tone of an intense mad extremist. Just be friendly and guide the other person(s) along like a kind person.
Choose your battles, speak with respect, and don’t let incorrect ideas send you into bully mode.
Step 3: Watch Those Facial Cues
If I had a dime for every condescending look I had from a barista, I would be rich. And I’ll be honest: I’ve given my share of condescending looks (and I regret every one of them).
… Except the look I gave to the guy who said “coffee is supposed to be bitter”.
That’s just so wrong. So so wrong.
But, of course, I probably shouldn’t have let that look slide…
You see, even if you use a friendly tone, your facial cues give away your true feelings.
If you can remember that you’re not an expert at everything imaginable, you’ll have an easier time not looking down you nose at others who haven’t traveled down the same rabbit hole as you.
Step 4: Don’t Blame The “Others”
Ever had these thoughts?
- “If they would only read just one or two articles!”
- “They haven’t even tried to learn about ____!”
- “They’re reading all the wrong garbage!”
Yeah, I get it. I’ve thought these things countless of times. However, these thoughts reveal a fault in us, not in the other person.
Is it reasonable to expect every human alive to read just one article about coffee freshness?
Sure, one article doesn’t sound so bad. But what if snobs in other areas thought the same?
If we are going to hold everyone up to that standard, then we need to read our just one article on some of these topics too:
- How grape juice is made
- Why amanita arocheae fungus is deadly
- Why some trees are evergreen
I guarantee, someone out there is an expert in these topics. That person’s thinking to himself, “If only they would read just one article on this topic!”
Our wild standards that everyone should learn even coffee basics are unreasonable.
That means it’s even more unreasonable to look down at someone for not abiding by them. Which means, it’s the snobs, not the common folk, who are being unreasonable.
Don’t blame the others. Those who go down the rabbit hole will understand. The rest won’t, but that’s okay. Let them explore their own passions, careers, and rabbit holes.
The world of coffee is fascinating, complex, and often misunderstood.
Still, there’s no room for snobbery, even in the most knowledgeable cafes and communities.
Coffee snobbery drives people apart and creates walls - and that’s the exact opposite of what coffee should be doing.
(If we ever sound snobbish - we hope you’ll call us out!)
Let go of the high horse. It’s okay.
But that doesn’t mean you still can’t fall more in love with coffee. Find local friends who share the passion, visit coffee shops that love to talk specifics, and stay connected to the larger community of specialty coffee lovers.
Our Coffee Club provides a way for you to enjoy snob-approved coffees. We source beans from the best farms in the world, roast them with insane precision, and ship them out on the same day. That means, as you already know, that you’re getting uber-fresh (and super flavorful) beans.
Join in on our unassuming, yet ever-learning club.