There is a pop-up going on right now by Swiss Water in New York. They offer caffeine free coffee in a variety of ways: cold brew, espresso and filter. They are providing community education about the Swiss Water process and coffee in general. Lastly, per their Facebook page they have
“Art by local NY-based artists including Dasic Fernández, David Pullman, Musketon, and Joe Doucet will be donated in support of Grounds for Health — a sustainable healthcare provider for women and families in coffee-growing communities.”
So they have partnered with local artists and are in some way supporting a healthcare initiative in coffee growing countries with this pop-up. Which, by the way, only runs 6 days.Awesome right? I think so too.
Although since learning about the pop-up few days ago, I’ve seen more than a few condescending articles (not to mention the comments/tweets) about the event, which really is probably just animosity for decaf coffee in general or at least a well rounded sense of not actually understanding.Which is a shame, since people who drink decaf coffee are the ones who drink coffee because they love it.
An article in The Washington Post picked up the discussion and talked it over sufficiently. They never really say which side of the fence they are on. Though, since the article was timestamped at 3:57am I think it’s safe to say there was caffeinated coffee involved.
I won’t delve to deeply into comments and tweets other than saying that these individuals who protested loudly and said all sorts of funny things really just wanted to say something - wanted to be part of the action. We humans do that; we follow, and sometimes do so loudly and unnecessarily.
The outlets however are missing the greater story. The Washington Post, Eater, Jezebel, Quartz, Gothamist all jumped on the bandwagon to talk about how New Yorkers would never be swayed into drinking decaf; if not specifically, then they at least paraded a slew of tweets from people who were happy to form their opinions for them. Some also missed it with the images they included. A stock photo showing what appears to be a dirty Faema Emblema, a photo from a Blue Bottle siphon setup. Both showing the very thing that the pop-up isn’t; dirty, hip and caffeinated. A great description for much of the coffee scene that we see today.
The story that was right below their noses (especially if they took the time to attend a cupping) was the educational aspect; not just about coffee, but about health and community. The Swiss Water process was introduced in the late 1980’s as an alternate to more traditional decaffeination methods. Though it wasn’t the first water based decaffeination process, it is recognized as being the first one to do so without chemicals. Swiss Water has recently updated their website and information and if you drink decaf coffee, it’s a great site to check out to get a better idea of what you are drinking.
Coffee education is sparse in general. It’s not that it’s not available. It’s simply not pursued. A chance to drop into a pop-up for some free coffee and free coffee education should be loudly applauded.
I’m not in the know on the marketing efforts of Swiss Water but this strikes me as a wonderfully executed educational experience for the consumer. Despite the underwhelming reaction by some bloggers and tweets; their goal of educating people, at least getting people to think about the process of decaffeination hopefully shows to be a resounding success. I know that whoever is watching over their analytics account is sufficiently pleased with the results. I would hope so at least.
Health education is admirable at every level. I was not aware of Grounds for Health and after skimming their website, they seem to be on an amazing mission. One that will impact countless lives in coffee producing countries. We all talk about paying a decent price for coffee, but when you can go above and beyond and have impact in the coffee communities at a deeper level; that is the story my dear Jezebel.
Community focused initiatives should be encouraged and lauded. Taking a space and transforming it - even briefly - into an attractive space with purpose is no easy task and considering what the space may become. One would think that Gothamist would praise the street art installation and support of NY based artists.
The best decaf I’ve ever had has been sourced and roasted by Durham based Counter Culture Coffee, and of course, was Swiss Water processed. If you’re in the need of some, you can find their great coffee here.
To be clear I consume coffee in it’s caffeinated form, I’m just resoundingly in support of Swiss Water’s well executed pop-up. It’s marketing with purpose, the positive attention that they receive from this is well deserved.