Friday, October 10, 2014

Coffee: Convenience over Culture

How great of a marketing feat must it be to go to a country famous for its high quality coffee and get most of the population to drink coffee crystals rehydrated with hot water?

This is a question posed in conversation with some friends the other day while discussing the prevalence of Nescafé (in Guatemala sometimes jokingly called no-es-café, or "it's not coffee") throughout the world. Guatemala had ideal conditions for quality coffee: lots of high elevation cultivation land that was 2) enriched with volcanic soil. Supposedly, these two qualities contributed to some of the best flavored coffee. Like most quality things produced by Guatemala, most of the general public never consumed it, but rather exported it.

While coffee isn't an export here, it is still very much a part of the culture. If you have business to do in a bank or other important office, sometimes you will be offered coffee or tea while you are waiting. Turkish or Arabic coffee, (coffee mixed with cardamom or other spices) is something associated with this region... and yet, almost everybody drinks Nescafé.

Perhaps, like many things, it's an example of convenience over culture.

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