(Roughly) Daily

Reproducing excellence?…

 

Even the most perfect reproduction… is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be.

– Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction 

Julian Baggini recalls a taste test of coffees:

…With me were a coffee shop owner, two coffee obsessives, and a coffee-drinking friend. We were going to blind-taste three coffees: Nespresso capsule coffee, which is served in the restaurant; the traditional espresso that the hotel provides for room service; and a third unmarked coffee I had brought with me to be made the same way, just to see if the whole thing was nonsense and coffee is coffee is coffee. It was the artisan versus the machine…

In distant last place came the ground coffee I had brought, a very good quality, single-estate bean, but not roasted for espresso and ground four days earlier, a little too coarsely for Bruno’s machine. The traditional house espresso scored 18 points, and was the favourite of one taster. But the clear winner with 22 points was the Nespresso, which both scored most consistently and was the favourite of two of the four tasters…

His account becomes a meditation on authenticity:

The key descriptors for Nespresso were ‘smooth’ and ‘easy to drink’. And from the point of view of restaurateurs who use it, the key word is ‘consistency’. It was far from bland, but it was not challenging or distinctive either. It’s a coffee everyone can really like but few will love: the highest common denominator, if you like…

And humanity:

We are not simply hedonic machines who thrive if supplied with things that tick certain boxes for sensory pleasure, aesthetic merit, and so on. We are knowing as well as sensing creatures, and knowing where things come from, and how their makers are treated, does and should affect how we feel about them. Chocolate made from cocoa beans grown by people in near slave conditions should taste more bitter than a fairly traded bar, even if it does not in a blind tasting. Blindness, far from making tests fair, actually robs us of knowledge of what is most important, while perpetuating the illusion that all that really matters is how it feels or seems at the moment of consumption…

Read this eminently-interesting essay in its entirety in Aeon.

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As we accentuate the artisanal, we might recall that it was on this date in 1979 that ukelele sensation Tiny Tim set a new world record for non-stop professional singing– two hours and fifteen minutes– at Luna Park in Sydney, Australia.

 source

 

Written by LW

January 13, 2013 at 1:01 am

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