Why hipsters should rule the world
A decade nowadays is a very long time. Facebook, Twitter, Google et all are all in the last decade and look how far they have come. My ddecade in the food and drink industry has been interesting. I have seen the specialty (I dislike this word but use it to set the scene) food, coffee and drink scene has come into its own with such verve that I can hardly keep up and from what was very humble beginnings. Yet as exciting as I find it every now and again I hear little rumbles of discontent that irk me.
So why so exciting? Because I am a hipster? I don’t think so. Because I am a pretentious so and so? I’d like to think not. Because I am a snob? Have you met me? Because I am a foodie? What’s that?
No because I get it. I totally get it. You see it is not about being rich or snobby or pretentious, or hip or cool it’s about good food and coffee and more so food and drink that is fair, untainted, people and animals involved in its production treated fairly, the earth it’s grown in and on treated with respect, people and land on one side of the world not mistreated for the financial gain of others elsewhere. And it is about taste and goodness. Do you get the butterscotch finish and ripe fruit in your natural processed coffee? The notes of caramel and burnt sugar in your hand crafted beer? The artichoke and almond in your cold pressed olive oil?
No probably not, I don’t always. But again that is not the whole point. The point is it tastes good. It tastes clean and not bland. It has flavour, it’s not full of chemicals or bulkers, meat not full of water, veg not full of pesticides, chicken not full of disease, yes over 70% of chicken is diseased. It’s about not risking our future health for financial gain today. It’s about not externalising costs.
These bloody hipsters, pretentious so and sos, food snobs etc are doing something they love, something they believe in and are passionate about, they support other people who do the same. Often they are paying higher wages to their staff, taking on staff that may have lacked opportunity, taking on shops in run down areas. This is a good thing albeit not perfect. Railway arches, shipping containers, all a bit trendy? A bit pretentious ? How about making use of derelict buildings, reviving unused areas, bringing life to forgotten communities. But the rents go up? That’s not their fault. They suffer too at the hands of greedy landlords. They are the problem.
I have met many of these people over the last decade and I have personally invested much time and money in the very same cause. And I can say for sure that we care, we care about people, communities, animal welfare, the environment, issues such as low wages, inequality, poverty, people welfare.
We do what we do for a bigger purpose than profit alone. We buy free range meats, organic veg, organic dairy, good cheeses, bread that is made of only 4 ingredients, strange huh? We do all this is because we think it is right. Our suppliers go off and visit coffee farms all over the world, tea plantations and so on to see where their product comes from, how the people working them are being treated, to make sure that the farmers and workers are the ones that benefit. They taste and cup away until they find what they think is right for us and our customers. They pay more. They care.
And so to the final product, the final place. Yes in some cases it costs more but not as much as some may think but where it does why shouldn’t it? More is paid for the ingredient, much more in most cases. Often higher wages are paid. And yes the places have their own unique style, they’re a little different. The staff may look a little different, act a little different, service may not be as you may have been used to elsewhere. But this is because they do have a different style and different personalities and these are being allowed to come through.
One of the reasons that I got into this when I did was because of an apathy towards casual food places and coffee shops , places I did not enjoy using because of bland food and drink that yes may have appeared cheap but for me was poor value if I did not enjoy it. And places with no soul, staff with no enthusiasm and fake corporate hospitality or in the case of independents quite often damn right rudeness and I am sorry to say and even more bland and bad products.
And let’s not forget the small scale that these guys operate on. The amount of new bakeries, new coffee shops, micro breweries , casual dining restaurants, neighbourhood bistros. This can be no bad thing. Apart from creating jobs it creates life and excitement in otherwise forgotten areas and engages staff to go and do the same, people to achieve more and go on and follow their dreams and take on more people and so on.
Are we perfect? Are we hell. But who is? We get things wrong. I personally do not think we are inclusive enough. I think we need to reach out further, to more people and in different ways. To our communities more. And this is happening. Approach us with an open mind. And please understand that we have to sell ourselves. That’s part of why we describe what we do the way we do, look the way we look, we are trying to differentiate ourselves from the bland uniformity so prevalent elsewhere.
We have discovered new products and appreciate foods differently, maybe, but truthfully. And we want as many people as possible to experience the same and that’s why we are here. To be as inclusive as possible. If you don’t feel welcome then tell us so we can improve. Because as much as anything else we love people and we want to share what we have learnt with as many people as possible so that as pretentious as it may sound we can create a better world.
This may sound a little far fetched. It is just food and drink after all. But revolutions have to start somewhere and often have their core in the strangest of places. In a seemingly ever global and big business world, food is going small and other industries are following suit and behind all the beards and funny hats is a much bigger message. Embrace it because the seeds of a better, more inclusive society may just be sown here.