Buying season is upon us. This is that frenetic time of the year when many diligent roasters act like diligent ants and begin to store up provisions for much of the rest of the year. I am no exception.
But what this sometimes reminds me of is how many first time visitors to coffee producing countries view and experience the phenomenon of tasting coffees on their home soils.
Cast your mind. Young buyer (I include myself in that group still) heads off to some Central American country. Meets a couple farmers; maybe hits up a national coffee association. And this being harvest time the roaster is invited to cup some of the new crop. It is sweet, alluring, fresh and alive. And the roaster is beguiled. And he wants to sell his soul to acquire this special lot that no one else will have. And possess it. And have dominion over it. And be the envy of all his other roaster friends.
And so forth, ad nauseum.
This is what I call the First Kiss Syndrome. Everything is set perfectly. The angels are singing and playing their harps, and it seems like heaven itself is smiling upon the match of you and this perfect creation of a coffee.
And so you make the move. You purchase the coffee. And a few weeks later it arrives at your roasting facility. And you think again at how massive you will be with this coffee by your side. And you roast up some samples. And you wait the requisite time to consummate your tastebuds with the coffee. And the day comes. And you set up your cupping table the way a bridegroom prepares the bedchamber for his lovely new bride. And the water is heated. And the steam of it is rising. And the anticipation grows to a silent roar.
And you…break the crust. And….
well, it may have been less than you had built up in your mind. Frankly, you are now trying to recall exactly what it is you saw in this coffee the first time around. Maybe you were drunk the first time you came in contact with it. Or maybe you were just in lurve.
That first kiss can be tricky.
My point is this. Emotions are serious things to keep in check. So often I have been guilty of buying as much on emotion as on principle, when the exact opposite should as often be the guiding principle of the day. Let your customers buy on emotion. Your job is to sell the steak, but it is also to sell the sizzle.
But first, your job is to buy the right cut of meat, and that is done purely by empirical observation, not with the heart.
Sorry to mix metaphors.