Thursday, October 11, 2007

Was Foldgers ever cool?

Here's a coffee article from MSNBC's Money Central. Money Central manages to remain the only consistently interesting portion of MSNBC.

The basic background of the article is a bit dated. About 15 years ago or so, youngsters and even not-so-youngsters started going to coffee houses to get coffee. Remember the show Friends being quite contemporary at the time for having a coffee house as one of the main sets? The article skips this and jumps right into its result: people are demanding high-falootin' coffee these days. The coffee houses? Not so much. People drink their coffee on the go more often than not and as a result of the on-the-go and "high-quality" coffee trends, the popular supermarket coffees (specifically Folgers and Maxwell House) are struggling. The supermarket powerhouses want in on the action. Now. 15 years too late. And somehow they can't seem to get a foothold.

The article skips a pretty big demographic when talking about the percentage of coffee drinkers:
18-24: 37%, 40-59: 60%, 60 and over: 74%

What are the numbers on the 25-39 year olds? 18-24 year olds don't generally need coffee. What do they need to wake up early for? Somehow that noontime cup on hangover Sunday just doesn't have the same satisfaction as the 6AM cup on your way to work. It's only after you've been working full time a few years that coffee becomes so attractive. Their argument would be much more persuasive if they included that important 25-39 demographic but I imagine they left it out for a reason.

Then again, with an argument like "How Folgers lost its cool," I'm not entirely sure their argument can be saved. Folgers was never cool. Folgers was the coffe your grandma drank. And you know what? It's the coffee I drink when I can help it. In fact, other than my Maxwell-House-drinking mother, my mother's side of the family all drink Folgers. It's decent coffee. I buy a large can from Sams Club about twice a year and keep it in the pantry. I'm sure snooty would-be coffee aficionados would scorn me for it but who cares? Much like most of my fellow brethren in the 25-39 age group, we stopped trying to be cool back when we were 24.

Of course, if Folgers and Maxwell House had been trying to make inroads into my age group back when we were the 18-24 year olds, maybe there wouldn't be so many in my age group who are already in the habit of buying Starbucks. Folgers and Maxwell House need to hire some mid-90's tobacco executives and build their base young because these days, you need to get people drinking coffee in their youth. I just hope Folgers has the good sense not to tamper with their flagship coffee too much.


jeffrey said...

As long as I can still get my CDM I'm happy.

Meredith said...

They stock Foldgers at work, so that's usually what I drink when I'm there. However, I do stock good whole-bean varieties in my pantry at home - I just like the taste. Now, to each their own, but the last time I had Starbucks I wished I just stuck with the brew at work!

S.A.W.B. said...

Ok, I'll admit it. I'm a pseudo-snob when it comes to ground coffee. When given the choice, meaning, i'm paying my own dough to buy ground beans for the pot at work, i'll shell out for a can of something from Jittery Joe's - because the roasting is done locally, and you can tell a difference in the freshness - or Community Coffee with Chicory from New Orleans, because it is coffee on the Black Wings of Death.

Now, we've got our share of Starbucks fans here in the office, and I'll drink that swill if need be, but, since I drink mine black, as God and the United States Marine Corps intended, I CAN tell subtle differences between blends/roasts, and for that reason, I tend to avoid the freeze-dried Folgers/Maxwell House if at all possible. Oh, and, Starbucks burns their beans intentionally, and therefore, they fail.

Dante said...

Starbucks coffee isn't particularly good in my opinion either, but it is heckuva popular. There's even one in Commerce, GA now. They were scrambling to open before one of our big drag races about a year ago. When the NHRA crowd is visiting the Buck, I can see how Folgers and Maxwell House might see themselves as slightly screwed.

Am I the only person on earth who doesn't have a set way of drinking coffee? I've been on a sugar, no creme kick lately but I usually run the table over the course of the year. When I get tired of that, I'll probably go back to black since I don't see myself desiring cream anytime soon. When drinking coffee black, I too can tell the difference between good coffee and freeze-dried goodness. I guess I just don't care as much.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

I've (thankfully) forgotten more about coffee than most people will ever know. From ordering the legendary Satan beverage (10 shots espresso, 1 shot chocolate, 1 shot mint) from Jittery Joes back when they allowed that kind of nonsense to driving around Florence, SC at 530am EDT looking for some sort of coffee filter that would work in the arcane percolator at the nefarious New Years Barbecue house, coffee has had an larger importance in my life than it should.

Best coffee evar was this discount bag stuff we had when I worked at RJ T-Bones in Athens. That stuff was the shindizzlebam, but you can't get it at a store. Altamaha Mud is tasty but somewhat overrated in the South Georgia tidewater. The availablility of chicory - coffees is a quite nice perk of my new environs down here in the NOLA.

But there are just a few rules I've picked up along the way.

1. The more complicated the coffee order, the bigger the asshole. (George Carlin?) Though this may mean I am losing my edge in my old age, I think I'm just finding more effective ways of being an asshole.

2. Quantity has a quality all its own. (Kruschev) Sometimes, Folgers or Maxwell House is exactly what the doctor ordered. These mornings are usually cold, involve waking up very early after too little sleep, and are usually proportional to the amount of alcohol consumed the night before. Please see also: Holidays, family time, football.

3. If the 18-24 year old crowd can't figure out how to augment their gourmet coffee with liquor, it is their loss. Rum in lieu of sweetner got me through my first three years of college 8am classes, let me tellya.

4. The taste of coffee with cigarettes is why I can't quit smoking.

5. One of the funniest things in the world is switching someone's BS coffee of choice with coffee and chicory from New Orleans without them knowing. Black wings of death, indeed.