McDonald’s is offering free coffee for a week and it’s both maddening and saddening.
The maddening part of it is that for the better part of two decades Victorians who are passionate about coffee have been working hard to show consumers how wonderfully valuable coffee can be. The owners of Victoria’s coffee houses have been diligently roasting and preparing coffee to the highest standards for years, and along the way we have been trying to educate our clientele about how much expertise is required to elicit the best out of the coffee plants year over year. From planting the right sub-species of coffee plant for the region and altitude, to picking it at the peak of ripeness and choosing the best method of removing the bean from the cherry, there are so many steps where one could go wrong and end up with substandard coffee.
For decades coffee farmers were exploited for their expertise and it’s only within the last 10 years that we’ve seen the widespread adoption of fair and direct trade practices where farmers are fairly compensated for their work. I’ve been pleased by the trend of people asking where our coffee comes from and whether it’s been fairly traded. It’s become fashionable to talk about farm to table food, and for all the same reasons farm to cup coffee should also be the norm. How can McDonald’s say they value the relationships with their farmers if they won’t put a price on literal fruits of their labour? Perhaps they don’t care, perhaps they’re simply out to make a buck and they see this free coffee gimmick as a way to get people into their stores buying their other products of dubious nutritional value…
And this is the saddening part. How can Victorians, of all people, look past the multitude of excellent local coffee purveyors where they can confidently buy a coffee knowing that it has been well cared for at virtually every step of the way and succumb to the allure of saving a twoonie? I refuse to accept the premise that a twoonie is too much to pay for the stewardship of the farmers, the care of the pickers, the attention of the processors, the talent of the roasters, the passion of the blenders, and finally the skill of the barista. So much passion, knowledge and talent must not be written off on a marketing gimmick.
Please continue to support your local coffee shop!
All the best,