SCAA/USBC: navel-gazing remainders

April 12, 2006 – 12:06 am

if tonx knew i was going to name-drop him so much, he surely would have never talked to me. BUT! an extremely passing comment of his jolted a barrage of caffeinated thought. not in the “holy-schnaikes-you’ve-got-wheels-on-your-shoes” sense (which he did). but in the, “duuuude, that’s deep, maaaaaan,” sense (did we mention that scaa 2006 was like good weed?).

you might know he abruptly left victrola to, according to a written statement, “spend more time with his family.” no, wait. that was another guy. ahem. in any case, the show floor being rife with what one might call opportunities, i asked if he’d found a new job. he seemed agog at the proposals coming his way (a sentiment he has since blogged, so i’m not giving anything away here). being a Real Live Journalist by day, i then formulated what we in the business call a Truly Probing Follow-Up Question, something in the vein of, “do you think your online presence has anything to do with that?”

the answer, immediately, was yes. which is (a) very cool, and (b) hugely telling — not to at all diminish what tonx does (he does, after all, have wheels in his shoes). it’s just sort of bizarre to me how relatively new and small and dependent on the internet all this high-end coffee snobbery really is, in an industry that’s very fatuous and sprawling and mediocre overall.

semi-parallel tangential examples:

* clover, which snagged exactly the sort of panting convention buzz it’s going to take to sell a large number of $9,000 machines — in my opinion. how? unless i’ve had my head in a scace device, there was basically blog buzz. some forum discussion. demos for a few gurus. am i missing anything?

* podcasts, which, though this newspaperman feels need a hearty whacking to make them worth slogging through, have managed to attract a decent following and — most tellingly — guest appearances by mr. scaa guru head-cheese person himself in recent weeks. tsk, tsk, indeed (scroll down).

* home junkie andy’s pressure sculpting device, which i saw long enough to shoot some video (stay tuned for clips). i had been prompted by a single blog post to seek the thing out, and as i watched the contraption scroll through a declining pressure profile while hooked to a synesso, all i could think about was the possibility of not just producing the espresso “clarity” some have theorized comes from wicked stable pump pressure, but alterable clarity that comes from both stable and sculptable water pressure. *sigh*

* this blog. i’ll just be frank here and say that i was utterly shocked to find that people i met for the first time and have read about online actually knew who i was. seriously. had no idea this blog-toy was even on the radar, partly because i rarely wade into forum discussions any more, and have simply plodded along with semi-regular posts mostly devoted to making fun of the bioluminescent cypriot. i mean, 400 to 600 page hits a day didn’t seem like a lot to me (maybe because i’m used to viewing figures in the quimbatillions at work). as the cypriot himself remarked today, “you mean, they’ve seen my latte art?!”

in all these cases, you have (a) an internet-driven niche audience, with (b) very low barriers of entry. so the question is, what do you want to do?

UPDATE: of course, open doors mean you let in some gremlins. tacy flogs the dark side with characteristic vagueness. (you want independent punditry from a career-changing barista with a newfound perspective … or from an amateur fresh-face who was never inside to begin with? take your pick!)