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We cup coffee every Friday in Middletown Coffee Co. Their team set up a weekly selection of coffees for cupping and a few folks – including me – then step up, spoons in hand and… we slurp. It’s always fun.

Today, the cupping table had three coffees from dublin roaster 3fe and in a break from the norm,  two coffees from high street chain stores.

It’s important to say that this wasn’t an excercise in naming and shaming high street chains. It was purely about noting the very obvious differences between speciality coffee and the commercial commodity coffee found in big brand chain stores.

The various reactions on people’s faces were fun to watch as they tasted a speciality coffee and found something light, fresh, fruity, silky smooth… then moved to the high street chain coffee and found them to be bitter, harsh, burnt and over-powering. Taste is subjective of course but, people who freely admit that they are “not that into coffee” were amazed at the differences they found.

Sometimes you have to show people the difference between good and bad.

However, the big brand high street chains will sell more coffee this weekend than many speciality coffee shops could ever wish for. The truth is, people still like mass market, big brand, popular, hype and, with enough PR and budget you can sell a product that’s not very good to thousands, maybe millions of people.

With honesty, integrity, passion and hard work your influence may not spread as wide and as fast as the big brand with the PR but it will be genuine. I know which I prefer.