Increasingly, I find large swaths of the specialty coffee scene struggling not just for value proposition or relevance, but simply to not be laughable. It's been a losing battle. As we bask in an extended summer that is occasionally sweltering, the roasted bean purveyors would like to coax us into thoughts of fall. Only Alterra seems to be blessedly pumpkin-free. With the opening of Alterra's Bay View facility, an extra-bold statement has been made that the local chain will compete wherever the game is on. Competitors seem to be reeling to some extent.
As ever, relatively little importance seems to be given to the user experience. If there's any naked truth under all the window dressing--including that on this blog--it's that there's nothing like a freshly brewed cup of coffee. I picked up a pound of beans at Alterra Humboldt Wednesday afternoon and, on a whim, ordered a Dream Harder decaf drip coffee (the regular brew, not pourover). It reminded me of what drip coffee can be. Pardon my waxing poetic, but the flavors danced. Contrast that with other drip coffee experiences I've had many times over, where I find myself adding water, milk, then even sugar to improve the taste.
While efforts to ensure fair trade and just prices for coffee farmers are laudable, people want a fresh and flavorful cup of coffee for their money. While enjoying that delicious cup, they'll be more receptive to whatever education you want to offer them. With chains (re-)entering the market and spreading the customer base even more thinly, this is not the time to be serving that joe that's been held too long.