We explore how today’s resources—from sub-Reddits to YouTube channels—have boosted coffee learning accessibility for everyone.
BY YKER VALERIO
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Photos sources from Unsplash
Coffee forums have been around for a long time. Some people would say that we started talking about coffee on the Internet as soon as the web opened in the late 1990s.
Coffee Geek was among the most prominent forums, but in recent years, the diversity and richness of the coffee community has expressed itself through all kinds of media and resources.
Through humorous storytelling, Morgan Eckroth has cultivated over 5 million followers on TikTok, while James Hoffmann recently achieved the 1 million subscriber milestone on YouTube; meanwhile, the r/Coffee community on Reddit currently has more than 800,000 members.
Through this two-part observation on the coffee learning community, we first uncover the evolution of online learning, and how this rapid growth became possible over the past few years.
Empowering Consumers Through Coffee Learning
The power of collaborative online communities isn’t new. More than a decade ago, Wikipedia beat Encarta based on this principle. Online communities connect experts and curious novices every second. These communities grow into a unique space through a shared interest, and occasionally some hostility may appear now and then. Still, for the most part, these online communities empower their members through knowledge and supportive relationships.
Coffee online content in particular is as segmented and varied as the coffee enthusiasts and professionals who partake in it. From coffee memes about decaf to discussions on TDS readings, the quality and quantity of content about coffee are overwhelming.
And the sheer volume of content available has met a newly developed appetite. Before COVID-19, it was hard to think about café-grade coffee drinks at home. Back then, the necessary gear and skills were out of reach for most people. And further, many coffee enthusiasts were in the routine of regularly visiting their local coffee shops and roasters. However, social distancing and lockdowns disrupted this habit, taking our interest in home coffee brewing to a whole new level.
Discerning Buyer and Skilled Home Barista
As James Hoffmann put it in a recent interview with Keys to the Shop’s Chris Deferio, home coffee brewing started competing with the café experience. Some trends support James’ claim, confirming how serious coffee enthusiasts can get about their homemade coffee.
For instance, CNN reported the boom of high-quality coffee subscriptions in 2020: Bean Box subscribers quadrupled, while Trade Coffee doubled theirs. And it wasn’t only premium coffee, but also gear that grew in demand. Blue Bottle reported that daily online sales of drippers went from five to 30 units per day.
Likewise, higher-end equipment like automatic espresso machines surged in 2020, and Technavio predicted that this market alone will grow more than $1 billion during 2020-2024.
Acquiring the best equipment requires knowledgeable advice, and many coffee enthusiasts rely on online content creators to get it. Along with gear recommendations and reviews, content creators like Morgan and James offer helpful guides to improve coffee learning skills at home.
The same happens at r/coffee at Reddit, where users share their tips to navigate all kinds of challenges, like V60 drawdown and comparisons between immersion coffee brewing devices.
More Knowledgeable, Together
Coffee learning online hardly requires any high costs these days, more than what is spent on a decent internet connection. Some businesses have already built a strong connection with their customers through learning, but as diverse and rich as the coffee-drinking population seem to be, there is always room for better and more meaningful connections between every actor in the coffee value chain.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Yker Valerio (he/him) is a freelance content creator. After more than 10 years of working as a management consultant, he started the blog Bon Vivant Caffè to share his passion for specialty coffee.