Why are some people snobbish about Starbucks

Urban hipsters and their coffee cult - The coffee house culture is dead

1. There has been a lot of talk about coffee lately. Too much
 

In Germany, the so-called third wave, the third wave of coffee drinking, has fully arrived. The first was the bulk coffee from the supermarket, which our grandparents still valued, the second the espresso from the Tuscan fraction with lattes and paper cups to go. The third wave is now intended to bring both reconsideration and further development at the same time: consciously enjoyed, single-origin, skilfully prepared black filter coffee - a filter coffee that, in the imagination of its proponents, has about as much to do with that of our grandmother as a custom-made fixie bike with a Dutch bike. It should be single origin, i.e. come from a single location, be expertly roasted in small quantities and skillfully infused. Also reduced to the bare essentials are the cafés where you get this coffee and are instructed in the secrets of the hipster coffee ceremony. Ideally, the operator is identical to the roaster, shaking the callused hand of the plantation farmer in rural El Salvador himself and then posting a photo of it on Instagram. We should think that's good, we should think more about the most important drug of the thinking person. But the gourmet coffee craze turns the pick-me-up into a culinary fetish. Time for a throw-in.

2. Coffee should be used for thinking, not the other way around
 

Coffee houses have been subversive places since their invention. This was where people argued, ideas were born and revolutions were prepared, here you could sit in the warm for little money and participate in the spiritual life of a city. If you step into a café in a major German city today, you can no longer feel it - although the smart, well-educated young people sit on top of each other here. But what a sad picture they give: Like pale-eyed fish, they crouch on uncomfortable stools, stare at screens and crumble muffins into themselves. A custodian for intellectuals and bohemians has become aquariums for digital autistic people. And it is here, of all places, in the hip cafés in the hip neighborhoods, that people think more intensely about their coffee than ever before. Terms like Single Finca and Aero Press are buzzing around the room. Cold water seeps through a seemingly antiquated apparatus and, after hours, comes as a pitch-black cold drip into a tumbler with ice cubes. Long queues form in front of tiny shops like the Bonanza Coffee Heroes in Berlin on weekends, it is hardly possible to sit. Strollers and laptops are prohibited in Café The Barn, also in Berlin.

Bonanza and The Barn, the project of an ex-banker, are cafés of the third kind, just like the Five Elephant in Kreuzberg or the Bald Neu in Munich, and if the apologists from Third Wave Coffee have their way, you will soon find them on everyone Corner. The third wave treats coffee as a product that should no longer be seen as a commodity or a simple food, but as a complex luxury item like wine.

The beginnings of the phenomenon are quite unpretentious: The original nucleus of Third Wave was opened by Alfred Peet in 1966 in Berkeley, California: Peet’s Coffee & Tea was a coffee shop with an attached roastery. In its day, the store was one of the few sources in the US for coffee beans that, thanks to their roast, were also suitable for espresso. Peet's disciples, the so-called Peetniks, stood in line. When the first Starbucks stores opened in Seattle in 1971, the founders sourced their beans from here; Peet came to the USA as the son of Dutch coffee roasters. In the 1990s, Starbucks educated North Americans about espresso, latte, and cappuccino. Above all, however, the company managed to willingly spend ten times as much on a cup of coffee. Third-wave cafés build on this willingness, but at the same time see themselves as an alternative to chain coffee à la Starbucks: owner-managed, with a focus on high-quality coffee without additives and too much milk.

3. THE Third Wave is an EXaggeration
 

Nations with an established tradition of drinking coffee pay little attention to the Third Wave, Italy, for example, not at all. Switzerland, with its proximity to Italian tradition, is not a third-wave stronghold either - perhaps because 80 percent of all households in Switzerland have fully automatic espresso machines. But there are also cafés of the third kind in Zurich: Bear & Cow and Café Henrici; in Basel the spring and the chanterelle deli.

On the other hand, Berlin stands out among the German cities, where many English-speaking expats live and they like to work in shops where they don't have to speak German. Surrounded by V60 hand filters, Chemex Woodnecks, Aeropresses and siphons, they tell you something about chicory and caramel aromas, prohibit the addition of milk and cost five euros for a carafe of filter coffee.

After all, the performance is free. First, the freshly ground coffee is digitally weighed to the gram. Slightly bent and with monk-like circular movements, the barista pours the 97 degree hot water through a filter that has previously been washed out with hot water. Then he stirs and then pauses for a period of time that the clock tells him. If you don't want to attend the ceremony yourself, wait until your first name is called, accept the liquid work of art and be looked at from soft hipster eyes as if you had just been given something homemade. The barista - usually bearded, tattooed and in a checked shirt - advises you to let the brew cool down a little so that you can better perceive the taste. And so you sit on an uncomfortable wooden stool in front of a cooling, sour cup of coffee, sniffing hibiscus notes and wondering how the hell it could have come to this?

4. The best bean is no longer good enough
 

One argument in favor of the new awareness of coffee is that more money stays with the growers when specialty varieties are sold directly. Since higher quality is demanded, the green coffees fetch much higher prices than those of the large corporations that divide the coffee market among themselves. The Hamburg coffee roaster Quijote, which supplies some third-wave cafés, sources its coffee according to its own statement "from politically independent, democratic associations of small and medium-sized producers" and even puts the supply contracts with the coffee farmers online. Single finca coffees are popular, not the blends that Germans have been loyal to for decades. The zeitgeist demands that we, who don't know a single farmer ourselves, know exactly who picked our food and where it grows.

It makes sense to mix coffees of several types and origins in order to obtain a balanced taste, as is usual with Italian espresso - only then the touching story of José, the coffee farmer from Guatemala, who is told every year, cannot be told visited his finca and whose one-eyed dog Paco took you to his heart.

People don't just buy coffee - when they go to the third wave hipster café, they buy a story. Like that of the Nicaraguan coffee farmer Roberto Ullosa, who is the fourth generation of the family in the Santa Ana region to grow Bourbon Elite and Kenya coffee using traditional planting techniques in volcanic soil, as can be read on the website of the Kreuzberg coffee roaster Five Elephant. The “Stories” category is where you share your “philosophy” with the world - so that “our customers will hopefully understand what our coffee roastery is all about”. Obviously not about coffee roasting as such.

Single-origin coffee is becoming the favorite drink of the enlightened late capitalism, many cafés can no longer be distinguished from co-working spaces, those open-plan offices in which you can rent tables by the day in order to be your own small productive capital alongside others. The coffee house as a place of discourse, political and artistic debate, as the birthplace of intellectual movements no longer exists.

5. Coffees have biographies today, but coffee house culture is dead
 

But what has become of the good old mass coffee that has driven generations of intellectual workers to top performance? What is wrong with the office and editorial brew that is stashed in two-liter cans and lets the blood circulate like Ayrton Senna once did on the Nürburgring? In many places it has already fallen victim to the second wave and has been replaced by capsule machines and other fully automatic machines. The next time you visit a German authority, count the number of clerks present and divide their number by the number of “Senseo” machines set up within sight - each employee is in control of his own pads. Perhaps all of the fully automatic machines and capsule machines will soon be replaced by Chemex Woodnecks and V60 filters, and the exchange of ideas in the coffee kitchen will turn into shop talk about brewing methods, degrees of grinding and the lime content of Javanese plantation soils. You don't want to hope so.

Meanwhile, the third wave has spilled as far as North Korea. Andray Abrahamian, head of an exchange organization for North Korean elite students, discovered a nameless gourmet café in the capital Pyongyang in 2013. The fact that it is above all the nomenklatura that can spend three and a half dollars on a little black man doesn't bother him, as he told the Global Post website. “There is a growing group of consumers who are interested in international coffee culture and can also pay for it.” The existence of great espresso in Pyongyang is further proof that Third Wave filtered every rebellion out of the bean in a six-hour cold drip process .

6. It is time to have worse coffee and better thoughts again
 

The guests of third-wave cafés prefer to invest their intellectual power in the composition of their hot drinks than in ideas, opinions and disputes. There are no encounters here, no debates, and there is no social mix, traditional strength of the coffee house, either. This is due to the mania for distinction, the prices and the language barrier (you sometimes have to know English to be able to order something at all). The next revolution, the next novel of the century will therefore be elaborate, God knows where, but certainly not with gluten-free banana bread and a cup of Mesele Haille, which impresses with its fine apricot and bergamot bouquet.

Europe's intellectual history is inconceivable without the senseless abuse of caffeine, from the 17th century to the present. Coffee fueled the French Revolution and established the nightlife, let's not let it be ruined by the pretentious, brazen attitude of self-appointed experts. Something is at stake. It is unthinkable that Honoré de Balzac would have preferred to deal with the biographies of his coffee beans instead of the biographies of the Parisians. And when Kyle MacLachland comfortably closed his eyes in “Twin Peaks” and shouted “Audrey, that's a real good cup of coffee!”, Did he know which plantation the beans came from? Hardly likely. Did he care? Not the bean.