[Homeroast] Amateurs/Professionals & Craftsmen/Artists

sci scizen at gmail.com
Sat May 1 13:13:19 CDT 2010

I agree with you completely. Quality gives way to quantity, the
McDonaldization effect.  Over the years I have noticed this dynamic in many
pursuits and professions. An "amateur" carpenter can and does spend three
times as much time than a "professional."  It is a strange twist that comes
when someone steps across the line to do something for $$. At that point,
the commodity can suffer as one tries to sell more, especially if
competition undercuts you. Pros usually lower the quality to a sweet spot
where customers are happy, but quantity of output is the highest.
Case in point: My local favorite coffee shop baristas are great guys, some
are my college students, but when I walk in to get a double shot 'spro,
there are  three people in line behind me. They don't have time to "hand
craft" a perfect shot, but they make a consistently decent shot of one
single blend. Whereas I can spend a lot of time at home, trying different
blends, different extraction parameters, etc. I can make a much better shot
at home. But, I am an amateur, who does not worry about three people
standing in line.
The same could apply to roasting. A true world class roaster operates about
20 miles from here in Durham, NC,  yet I roast more kinds of beans than they
offer. I roast more varieties, at less cost, at four roast levels, with more
freshness. Can I roast as well as they do? I should hope not. It would be
ironic if with my Behmor I roast as well as they do with their $100K
roaster. Still, the pro usually has the advantage of having superior
equipment, that allows high consistency yielding consumers a convenient
acceptable product that they won't make.

Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2010 10:51:00 -0700
From: Daniel Remer <danielremer at me.com>
To: homeroast at lists.sweetmariascoffee.com
Subject: [Homeroast] Amateurs/Professionals & Craftsmen/Artists
Message-ID: <504CBBFE-9539-4EC5-A954-C453E75CECB2 at me.com>
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My thought on Amateurs is that if they are dedicated they can do
better than Professionals for the simple reason that they can spend
time and money on something that for a Professional has to return a
profit. Some of the best photographers,  writers, potters and
sculptors are amateurs because they do it for love rather than for
money, and can afford to devote whatever it takes to progress.

On the other hand Professionals, while they gain competence from
repetition, can suffer from boredom, burnout and forced compromises to
quality in order to make money. Sometimes the Amateur and the
Professional merge, but it's rare and often fleeting.

On Art and Craftsmanship, I'd suggest that a barista who is good
craftsman (someone who can consistently make a drink of high quality)
is all I'd aspire to. I have no desire to make one of a kind coffee
drinks. I just want excellence and repeated excellence. I don't want
to remember every great shot of espresso I've ever had, just a few
memories are fine. Coffee is a science, a craft and if someone wants
to use it to paint their faces with, I guess it's an art too.

Nothing wrong or second rate about wanting to be a amateur craftsman
of excellent drinks.


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