Friday, October 31, 2008

Shenanigans & Tomfoolery

I just read that Hershey’s quietly replaced the cocoa butter in some of their products with vegetable oil. They petitioned the FDA last year to modify the standards that define milk chocolate and after failing to accomplish that, changed their packaging from “milk chocolate” to “chocolate candy.” By the way, that faint humming sound you’re hearing is that of Milton Hershey as he spins like a wood lathe.

Of course, we’ve all heard of the melamine scandal by now, where Chinese milk powder was adulterated with industrial chemicals in order to fool quality inspectors.

Amidst the current economic turmoil, I only expect to see more of these types of shenanigans as companies attempt to protect their bottom line.

Coffee roasters aren’t immune to this either. I’ve heard of a couple of tricks, like spraying the coffee with water to increase the weight, and mislabeling cheaper coffees with a more expensive variety.

When I started Southern Skies, I made a pledge to myself that I’d keep it simple and do the best job I could possibly do. That’s why we keep our focus on coffee. We don’t sell cocoa mix or tea or syrups not because we don’t like them (except maybe syrups), but because they would distract from our goal of roasting the best coffee we can.

Here’s my promise to you: What the label says on the bag is exactly what’s in the bag. And we don’t monkey around with the weight – no weighing the coffee down with water, no thumb on the scale, none of that. What you see is exactly what you get.

The way that I see it, there are lots of easier ways of making money than roasting coffee, so if I can’t do an honest job of it, what would be the point?