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Time Columnist Attacks Blue Bottle, Decries ‘Coffee Snobbery’

Apparently angry that his local coffee shop doesn’t make Sweet & Low readily available, Time magazine columnist and James Beard-winning founding editor of the Grub Street blog Josh Ozersky has lashed out against Blue Bottle Coffee owner James Freeman, calling him “a mellow weenie in architect glasses, the very image of a coffee snob.”

What did Freeman do to provoke such meanness? He merely was the subject of a video promoting a consumer-based book he’d written (The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee is available here, by the way). In the short video, Freeman simply and frankly explains his personal passion for coffee, shares some of Blue Bottle’s organizational philosophies and succinctly summarizes the book for interested consumers.

And that is apparently unbearable to Ozersky, who responds:

If you hate coffee snobs, or, really, just snobs, I urge you to watch the new Blue Bottle Coffee video, a trailer for the Blue Bottle Coffee book. You will take a kind of masochistic glee in how annoyed it will make you. I certainly feel this way. The cult of coffee, at least in its most puritanical form, is deeply alienating, even to me; for that reason, it strikes me as a telling fault line in American life.

Ozersky’s rant doesn’t stop there. While admitting that he seeks out single-origin coffees and dislikes the swill produced by many large coffee companies, Ozersky says he just can’t handle the “cultural dog whistle” so often blown by many coffee purveyors:

When I watch the Blue Bottle video, I see whole urban-mandarin world in which I live in broad burlesque. There is the insufferably pretentious soundtrack, which moves seamlessly (or so it thinks) from Bach to some indie band that is never identified but which, no doubt, works as a cultural dog whistle for those in the know about such matters. Who is this coffee cognoscenti?  How they act, and what they look like, can be inferred from the video; Freeman is a mellow weenie in architect glasses, the very image of a coffee snob.

You be the judge:




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