Coffee Rant: Crowlers and Comment Wars

Should I start with a disclaimer?


Okay, first of all, I am the daughter of a respected journalist, so my views are regularly influenced by her and the issues she experiences in her current working environment. Second of all, is a blog and nothing more. The information presented here may be skewed towards my own personal beliefs and preferences and therefore should not be treated as a supplier of quality news or anything of the like. Anything said here should be vetted against other reputable sources.

Okay then, so why the disclaimer?

Well, I got into a little fight…

Not a serious one, mind you, but one that brings up a serious issue that can influence the coffee industry, and all industries for that manner, negatively.

That is the issue of accurate and unbiased news reporting.

Let me start from the beginning.

Cuvee Coffee, a growing and well-known roaster located in Spicewood, Texas with a coffee bar located on E. 6th Street in Austin, has recently experienced some conflict with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, also known as the TABC. The coffee bar, which in addition to selling a variety of coffee products, sells several beers on tap that can either be enjoyed by patrons at the shop or on-the-go via Growler or Crowler. A Growler is usually a half gallon glass container in which buyers can transport beer from a restaurant’s tap to their household for later consumption. A Crowler is a 32 ounce can that essentially provides the same function as a Growler except it is not a reusable vessel.

Since the use of a Growler and a Crowler in food establishments is somewhat new in the beer world, the regulations for these containers are questionable and probably need to be revised and improved upon.

Anyway, the TABC walked into Cuvee one day due to a complaint about another issue, and they determined that it was illegal for them to sell the Crowlers without a brewpub license. The reasoning eventually provided for this was that, according to Texas law, canning is a manufacturing process and therefore beer can only be sold in a can by the manufacturer of the beer, not a reseller such as Cuvee.

All in all, it’s Texas law, and the TABC is obligated to uphold Texas law. It’s all kind of silly, and in my opinion, the regulations need to be reevaluated and revised for the changing times, but whatever.

My problem has nothing to do with the facts of this story.

It has everything to do with how one particular publication chose to report about it.

Roast Magazine is a reputable trade magazine within the coffee industry. I am a subscriber to their weekly newsletter, provided by the magazine’s online counterpart, the Daily Coffee News, and for the most part, I enjoy the articles and blog posts that they provide. That being said, I was not happy with their coverage of the Cuvee/TABC war. The article was very much sided towards Cuvee without any quote from the TABC. In fact, it didn’t even mention the regulations that were cited during the incident. The reporting wasn’t just skewed; it completely excluded important facts.

In the end, I commented on the article that unless it is explicitly stated as a blog or opinion piece, the writer should provide an even reporting of both sides without hinting towards their own personal opinions. Someone got mad at me, said I was missing the point, and well, that got the ball rolling.

If you want to read the actual articles that I read, please check out both on the Daily Coffee News and Austin 360, but ultimately, I think you will agree with me that the information provided by the Daily Coffee News was highly inadequate compared to that of Austin 360.

I bring this all up for a very specific reason.

We live in a time of very easy access to information. Just a quick Google search, and we have every little mention of the topic at our fingertips, no matter how insignificant or inaccurate. The problem is though that we have no way of determining whether the information being provided to us is insignificant or inaccurate. Typically out of laziness or ignorance, we just accept it all as fact.

This is so incredibly problematic.

Let’s go into the What Ifs: What if the reason why Texas legislation restricts canning is because of a high incident of injury occurring in places with canning machinery? What if there is legislation against canning in Texas because of the unsustainable nature of cans? What if there needs to be legislation against Growlers in addition to Crowlers because such reselling actually increases the incidence of tampering with the beer?

I don’t know because no one is actually providing any information that might answer those questions.

And that is really the issue here.

The news needs to provide the facts of the matter. All of the facts. And those facts need to be presented in a neutral and clear manner. Otherwise, how will the reader learn anything? How will they know how to act? How will they know if further inquiry needs to take place? How will they improve upon the situation?!?!?!?!

Simple. They won’t.

When it comes to the latest news reports, I encourage all people to question the content and verify the facts of the report. I have seen too many posts on Facebook and Twitter from my friends about things that have been completely inflamed and misrepresented, and that kind of manipulation does no good for anyone. We are never going to overcome the things that destroy our communities and happiness if we don’t thoroughly vet the information that is constantly being thrown at us as well as question our own assumptions and biases.

So please, if there is anything that I post on my site or my Twitter page that you find questionable or if I say anything that you find objectionable, please speak up by commenting below. I want to hear what you think. You may be right, and as an accountant and Christian, I highly value accountability, as much as it may suck at times. It is essential to my career and my faith. All I ask is that you state your objections as calmly and with as little vulgarity as possible.

The one and the only Pookachino

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