United Coffee, the influential European–owned operation which owns the Lyons brand and has a turnover in the region of eighty million pounds, appears to have quite deliberately teased the rest of the coffee trade with the launch of its new consumer-sales website, Make Decent Coffee by recruiting the TV personality Peter Andre for a launch stunt on the theme of overthrowing instant coffee.
Peter Andre is the singer who was thoroughly lampooned by the serious press when he was hired by Costa to launch their flat white in 2010, and then opened up his own New York Coffee Club cafes in East Grinstead and Brighton.He was hired by Make Decent Coffee for a stunt which involved throwing away packs of instant coffee into a skip parked outside the Houses of Parliament.In this, he was accompanied by several costumed ‘gorillas’, who appear to be the other public faces of the brand’s campaign to ‘overthrow instant coffee’.
At the publicity stunt, Peter Andre is reported to have said:“Decent coffee comes in many forms but instant isn’t one of them.For years we’ve been led to believe that instant coffee is the only way.Well not anymore.Making decent coffee yourself doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming.There is nothing like the taste of real coffee, yet so many people needlessly settle for instant.”
This quite deliberately provocative public-relations statement had the expected effect from the makers of instant coffee – except for Nescafe, which suffered a sense of humour failure and remarked that as Peter Andre was clearly being paid to trash the concept of instant coffee, they wouldn’t help his publicity by making a response.
Others, however, took the stunt with great good humour and responded in kind.
“I’m sorry, did you say Peter Andre?” responded one supplier of instant soluble coffee, “What exactly is his background in the speciality coffee fraternity?I’m a pretty hardcore coffee nerd and as a family we’ve been roasting speciality coffee for over 25 years.We will never claim that instant coffee is a replacement for ‘real’ coffee, but we realise that what Mr Andre refers to as ‘decent coffee’ means different things to different people.Not all of us want to get as involved in coffee as us, nor do they have time, and this is where instant coffee can be offer a quick and convenient drink for people who don’t have time for a drip filter.
“This doesn’t mean it has to be a savourless, grey coloured, mass marketed concoction.Instant coffee has a bad reputation only because the market has been dominated by hellish large companies who have made the decision that instant coffee should only be made with second-rate beans.If you raise the quality of the beans the quality of the final product increases too.For many people in the UK it surpasses their expectations in terms of quality and convenience.”
The Kraft / Kenco operation remarked that their new ‘wholebean’ instant coffee category, which includes Kenco Millicano and Carte Noire, and is their ‘closest taste to real coffee in an instant’, has achieved combined retail sales of over £20 million, testifying to its acceptability.
Cafedirect commented:“Just like ‘fresh’ coffee, there are good and bad ones.If you source high quality beans from expert growers you can get some wonderfully aromatic instants, rich in character.Perhaps Peter should try our Machu Picchu freeze-dried, we reckon he would quickly change his mind.”
Douwe Egberts added:”instant coffee remains the daily coffee of choice for millions of consumers in the UK and many other markets around the world, including Australia” (which was supposed to be a dig at Peter Andre’s background in one of the major coffee countries of the world – but he was actually born in London).“Instant coffee is chosen for its convenience, ease of preparation and consistent great taste; to dismiss it is to disregard the preferences of everyday consumers.”
The Make Decent Coffee website is not entirely confined to coffee.It includes the sale of various items of equipment distributed by United Coffee – filter brewing items such as the Aeropress, the V60, and the Chemex, and espresso equipment such as the extremely eye-catching Victoria Arduino Venus, one of those vertical machines topped by a crafted winged figure and priced at £720.
The site includes features such as downloadable brewing guides, and educational videos on how to brew good coffee at home.
The new site can be found at www.makedecentcoffee.com/