Gifted critic or self promoter?

whfite

New member
Oct 28, 2004
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Florida
What's the story on Kenneth Davids (coffeereview.com)? He writes well enough but it seems odd that there are scarcely any other contributors to his site and that most of his reviews are based on "cuppings" (what a silly term...) that he does by himself.

Some of my caffeinated friends worship him as the High Priest of Cafe while others decry him as a shameless self-promoter who runs that site as a tribute to his own ego.

Anyone have opinions they'll share?
 

espressomaniac

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Jul 8, 2004
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Tacoma
LMAO

I checked out his site, he describes each cup like the copa cabana of fruit stands, I see he's gone to college in the literary world, but like most "formal" education, it's transparent. His objective is to draw upon the mental components "note I didn't use a fancy word" in the wording itself to make your tastebuds swell, and not really much more. I know his field, and at first, thought we had a true conissiour "probably spelled wrong, no MBA here" but after browsing his description, now see it as the rantings of a madman if he were to truely put his descriptions up against the masters. Indeed, there is a largely non public view of espresso, but the descriptions are just not, nor ever will even reach the level he's describing, well...not without alot of funky flavorings.....going that route would defeat the cupping in the first place if that was the case...yet again, more holes..

Anyway, I was grinning after browsing upon a few of his gigs, but I do have to hand it to him, he's put in alot of effort to make a coffee conisiour portal, and indeed, eventually it will be a must have on the web, he'll even have many, many competitor web sites, but,.... people STILL think starbucks is the place to go, and to be honest,....in many cases, they are doing better then many current operations .. well, not any of the ones my clients run, but just as a national average. When the market reaches the point of needing a cupping review, they'll ask for it, until then, we'll let the crazy's play around with it knowing it's not going to make any kind of a difference.

I'd be interested to know, is he making any money off of the industry??? If your friends are looking for some hard core guru's let me know, I'll point you the right direction, there is nothing like getting to the bottom line for anything.
 

ElPugDiablo

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Jul 16, 2004
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Hartford and New Haven, CT
I couldn't disagree more with espressomaniac way of thinking. There is nothing crazy about what Kenneth Davids is trying to do. Cupping and rating coffee is essential for anyone growing, selling, roasting, and brewing coffee for a living. It is very important to identify complex coffee flavors and associate and balance desired flavors such as chocolate, caramel, wine, in the mean time minimize undesired flavors such as grass. If you can't identify flavors, how can you produce it with any kind of consistency? Coffee industry is far behind of wine indstry in this regard.

Whether you like Davids taste buds, that is a personal preference. Try tasting some of the highly rated and poorly rated coffee blind, and see if you agree with his review. By the way, he does not just make terms up to describ coffee scents. If you want to know how to identify coffee aromas, try Le Nez du Cafe.
 
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whfite

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Oct 28, 2004
17
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Florida
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Actually, I have checked out some of his reviews and I generally agree that the man can tell the difference between good coffee and bad.

That being said, and my own bias as a fairly serious wine taster being identified, when I sample a cabernet and find that it has the fragrance of pipe tobacco or flavors of blackberry or chocolate, those characteristics can generally be discerned by others, even if I don't reveal my impressions first.

But...gentle colleagues...ain't no unflavored coffee in the world ever tasted like apricots...

The wine industry has suffered for generations from the pompously inflated verbiage of self-anointed "experts" who impress the wannabees and intimidate the neophytes with impossible language and fanciful metaphors. I hate to see the coffee world doing the same thing.

Interesting that my original post has generated responses similar to those I found among my coffee-friends. There seems no middle ground; he's either a saint or a sinner.
 

ralphshade

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Jul 28, 2004
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Madison, WI
Ken Davids

Just to clarify a point, Davids does not cup his coffees alone. He always has at least one cupping partner, often a guest roaster or green bean buyer.

By the way, "cupping" is not a silly term, it's just industry jargon. It describes a very specific process used by industry professionals to determine qualities and faults in coffee.

His terminology is not designed to impress or intimidate. In fact, each of his terms can be found on the Coffee Tasters flavor and fault chart. Again, a professional tool to describe the specific flavors and aroms of coffee.

And, as far as there being no coffee in the world that tastes or smells of apricot, just because you can't taste or smell it doesn't mean that others can't.
 
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