French Roast Coffee
Marketing is all about motivating consumers to by their stuff. How do they do that? Well, they tell you what you want to hear. They stretch the truth. But mostly they just lie to you. Case in point; French Roast Coffee.
In the old sailing ship days, importers liked using the clipper ship. This was a three or four masked, sleek, and fast ship, capable of carrying somewhat perishable commodities half way around the world in the matter of a few short weeks. It was the Mac Truck of its day and thus the transportation vehicle of choice for the coffee industry.
Unfortunately, as in most sailing ships, some water made its way into the holds. By the time the ship made port, the bottom layer of coffee, often thousands of pounds, was spoiled and thus the bottom layer of coffee was tossed overboard. Disposing 10-20% of the coffee was obviously an expensive loss for most coffee importers. Yet this practice continued for hundreds of years.
In the late 19th century a few French entrepreneurs, not wanting to lose profit by tossing out the wet and moldy bottom layer of coffee, decided to roast the coffee extra dark, to the point of being burnt black, thus hiding the nasty bitter flavor of the spoiled coffee. Their normal customers wouldn’t have any of this, so the roasters sold this second rate coffee to the poor. Voila, problem solved! Everyone wins.
American Industrial Coffee
Now fast forward about a hundred years to the 1970’s and we find industrial coffee companies wanting to make more profit, so they purchased cheap inferior beans. To mask the bitter taste of these poor quality beans, they burnt the beans, nearly to the point of tasting like charcoal. Fortunately, all it took was a little marketing to convince Americans that burnt and bitter industrial coffee was the norm. Now all they needed was a good name for this over roasted coffee.
Finally, an enterprising marketer did a little historical research and thus came up with a name for this new roast, they decided to call it… you guessed it. French Roast Coffee.