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September | October 2014

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From the Publisher

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Can you believe it? I found the "World's Best Candle"! It was hiding in a Bath and Body Works in the Pacific Northwest.

I wonder if our waxy friends at the NCA (National Candle Association, of course) know about this.

The marketing on the candle box cheapens any artistry that might have actually gone into the design and manufacture of the candle in the box. Even worse, it cheapens the consumer’s notion of what a quality candle might be, which affects every other candle producer. Coffee is no different.

I recently received an email from a coffee industry colleague I respect greatly, stating, “Why do we as an industry have a need to label people and businesses with superlatives? Why do we as professionals have a strong need to identify ourselves as experts? Why does the coffee industry embrace such overactive egos that we self-anoint, shamelessly self-promote, and issue lofty and unrealistic titles for ourselves?”

Wow, that’s calling it like you see it. And I agree.

How long does it take to become an expert? As Malcolm Gladwell details in his book Outliers: The Story of Success, the study of professional athletes, musicians and composers shows that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become the very best in your field. For perspective, this is roughly the equivalent to four hours a day, every day, for seven years. Whether it really takes 2,000, 10,000 or 20,000 hours is not important. It takes time, dedication and focused learning to become the best.

We owe it to ourselves, and even more important, as a publisher I owe it to you, to push for higher standards. This applies to green coffee ($30 per pound, it must be the best), roasting (we are the best because we use a certain machine or style), as well as marketing professionals. Yes, it even applies to publishing professionals. The latest trends and the most passionate newcomers can’t be anointed as royalty without experiencing the trials and apprenticeship that only comes from years of practice. Conversely, grey hair is not a requirement to be an industry leader. There must be substance underneath the hype and we must demand it be shown.

In other words, we have to be better than Buddy (played by actor Will Ferrell) when he walks into a New York City coffee shop claiming to have the “The World’s Best Cup of Coffee” and says, “You did it! Congratulations! Great Job!” The movie is called Elf and if you haven’t seen it, it’s the world’s best Christmas movie.

Regards from the world’s greatest publisher,


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