This is Part One of a two-part editorial. Read Part Two here.
This, friends, is the opening salvo from Jay Ruttenberg’s “Java Jive”, an essay that appeared under the “Loose Ends” heading in yesterday’s edition of the New York Times “Sunday Opinion” section. It is, without a doubt, the worst article on specialty coffee ever published by the New York Times. In fact, given the accelerant hoopla and pomp that accompanies a byline – any byline – at this particular publishing house, one could appropriately extrapolate that this is the worst article ever published on specialty coffee, ever.
Here’s another excerpt:
And another one:
This article makes Josh Ozersky – whose own ridiculous anti-coffee editorial at least had, you know, specific complaints – look like Liz freakin’ Clayton. Mr. Ruttenberg’s piece is supposed to be parody, one guesses, which means we’re meant to overlook his ill-informed (and actually pretty offensive) jokes about Peruvian farmers “ripping us off,” or its patently wrong assumption that “decaf” is somehow a dirty word at nice coffee houses. We’d happily to write Mr. Ruttenberg a short list of excellent, non-snooty, non-terrible NYC cafes that serve delicious decaf.
This is the worst article ever written about specialty coffee because the New York Times has published it, and not in one of its blog back channels. Something printed in the “Sunday Opinion” section is enormously more important and widely read than anything published on the publication’s armada of blogs. Think of one of Oliver Strand’s much-loved pieces for T Magazine’s blog’s fashion & design blog, “The Moment“, as a kind of roadside billboard: You read it, of course, but only if you were already driving in that direction. Mr. Ruttenberg’s “Sunday Opinion” editorial, on the other hand, is more like a ticker-tape leaflett zeppelin drop, landing in the laps of a much wider populace. People are now free to assume that “Java Jive” is how the top editorial tastemakers at The Paper of Record – the folks who authorize these articles – think about specialty coffee. This doesn’t just suck, it double-sucks.