Illo by  dangerlam

Illo by dangerlam


The Coffee Snobbery Masterclass

Elevate your peers and society


Some of our most important meetings (deals, dates and decisions) are had over coffee. And yet so often I see folks pass up this opportunity to subtly yet significantly assert their superior sophistication and taste. The opportunity to open up a world of complexity, mindfulness, gratitude and nuance is squandered. Instead, they simply order and consume their coffee as if it were a mere beverage.

There also exists a brand of unscrupulous folk who claim to be ‘coffee snobs’ whilst ordering muggaccinos with ‘extra froth’.*

* Some then proceed to eat the textured milk with their spoons. It’s outrageous.

And, of course, there are plenty of people who claim to ‘love coffee’ and seek to heighten and refine their taste into something more existentially meaningful and rich.

I myself used to be a coffee snob, and I got there the hard way (starting with instant coffee). It was a long and perilous journey, but I got there and enjoyed many years of supercilious pretentiousness.

I have long since ascended from coffee snobbery, however. Now, I am what is known as a ‘coffee snobbery snob’. It’s sublime.

But, like a bodhisattva, I have decided to return to the Earthly plane to dispense my wisdom to the willing—to edify the hopeful would-be coffee snobs, in the form of this commercial masterclass.

If, like me, you know coffee to be important—and if you want your people to be equipped with a level of deft appreciation and situational sophistry that would make even the most lauded sommelier blush with envy—this is masterclass is ideal. You’ll learn:

  • How to Choose a Cafe. I’ll teach you The 11 Warning Signs to watch out for when quickly discerning the merits of a cafe. Eg, Is the grinder doserless? Is the steam wand clean? Are the cups small enough? (And so on). This will ensure your future meetings are set for success.

  • How to Wean Yourself off Milk. And sugar. Like an adult.

  • How to Discern a Cafe’s Business Model. Operational excellence, customer intimacy and product leadership—these are the three wheels on the tricycle of a differentiated business, of which there can be only one lead wheel. To a coffee snob, it is obvious which wheel takes the lead. You’ll learn how to support the businesses that choose the right wheel, and avoid the ones that prioritise operational excellence or customer intimacy (even if they make your coffee quickly, and even if they remember your name).

  • How to Be a Bit More Hipster. Through the sincere ironic juxtaposition of nostalgia, hipsters bring meaning back into increasingly alienating hyperconnected modern lives. The appreciation of slow crafts is one such avenue, of which coffee is paramount. Everyone has an inner hipster. In some, it is buried deep—but I will teach you the secret rites that can whisper it into being.

  • How to Support Sustainable Coffee Farms. Coffee is big business, and it is very un-hipster to support big business. Thus, you’ll learn not only to avoid ‘chains’, but you’ll also learn how to invest in cafes that use beans from roasters that develop direct relationships with farmers, who pay them well and who care about the industry.

  • How to Avoid Embarrassing Yourself. No more ‘expressos’, ‘extra hot’, ‘decaf’, ‘takeaway cup’, ‘mugaccinos’, ‘cup of chinos’ or ‘using the teaspoon’. You’ll learn the language of 3rd wave coffee, and speak the intimate code known only to Baristas. Regions and roastings, wash processes, brew methods—you’ll know it all (or: you’ll know enough to bluff your way through).

  • How to Mindfully Appreciate Coffee. Coffee, like whisky, is one of the gateways to nirvana. We get there through mindfulness—a popular buzzword to describe a deep level of awareness, presence and noticing. By learning how to appreciate coffee, you’ll find whole new worlds open up to you. You’ll develop a much greater affinity, acuity and attunement to life.

  • How to use your snobbery to Avoid Addiction. You’re a coffee snob—not a caffeine snob. The caffeine is irrelevant. A whisky connoisseur doesn’t crave the alcohol—that would make them an alcoholic. Likewise, the coffee snob is not an addict. No: both whisky and coffee snobs (and anyone of sophisticated taste) crave the complexity and nuance, and the exquisite contexts that brings such experiences to life. The snobbery wards against addiction.

  • How to use The Rule of Two (Sometimes Three). After this masterclass, you’ll bring your consumption down to just two coffees per day—one that you brew yourself at home, and one that you allow a good barista to make you. This presents a useful conundrum: where do you have this one coffee? And who do you have it with? In a world awash with too many meetings, coffee snobbery helps leaders make more discerning decisions and manage their priorities better.

  • How to Deal With Disappointment. As your taste becomes more refined, it is inevitable that some baristas and cafes are going to let you down. That’s okay—it’s not their fault. We must remain kind and calm, and not make a scene. I’ll show you how to passively deal with the situation, so that you can teach them a lesson they’ll barely notice.

  • How to Explain Away Any Inconsistencies. Whilst snobbery is often amusingly uplifting, it does invite challengers from time to time. These folk may seek to point out the times you have contradicted yourself. This is where sophisticated sophistry comes into play. The charm here is to maintain a fluid stance, wherein no matter how the conversation turns, you always occupy the higher status. The key is to not come across as arrogant—just better. In this the people in your company or team are more likely to inspire likability and respect from others.

  • How to Be Humble and Maintain Good Humour. Finally, the true coffee snob knows they can’t be a master of everything—and thus they must cultivate examples from domains in which they are not supreme. For example, there exists an unspoken (unsteady) alliance with tea drinkers. By demonstrating one’s relative lack of snobbery with regards to leaf water, you allow another person to claim some form of snobbery in that domain. Your benevolent and magnanimous nature will be noticed, and you will become the go-to reference as a person of good standing and character.

I honestly cannot think of a more pressing moral imperative of our times. If you lead a team of people who meet people for coffee—this is your opportunity to ensure they represent your company and brand well. But more so, to represent themselves well. This is your opportunity to turn your people into veritable paragons of good taste.

To book this masterclass or workshop, simply send my wonderful business partner Kim a short email, or use the form below. Do note: Kim is of the tea drinking persuasion (so there’s no point trying to win her over with your coffee snobbery, I’ve tried).

Note: I sometimes offer these masterclasses to the public, pending my calendar and whim. If you’d like to be kept abreast of such opportunities, be sure to subscribe to my museletter.

Let’s do this thing.

Well met. To whom do we have the honour? *
Well met. To whom do we have the honour?
Naturally, we’ll tailor things come our briefing call.
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See what my many happy clients have to say. For a rough sense of fees, see my services guidebook. Alternatively: consider the other leadership development masterclasses and workshops I offer.