What does coffee have to do with being a creator?
When I was in undergrad, we only had Starbucks on campus. It was convenient and reasonably affordable. But it’s not high-quality, and it’s not tasty (unless you like a splash of coffee with your quart of syrup, whipped cream, and caramel drizzle).
So when a new coffee truck set up shop across campus claiming to have superior espresso-based beverages, I bolted straight to their window.
Delighted by Excellence
The owner said he was from Australia (Australia apparently has a thriving espresso/coffee culture because of Italian immigrants back in the day). So when he moved to the US, he wanted to introduce Americans to Aussie-style coffee.
Every drink on the menu was espresso-based and highlighted the actual flavor of the coffee beans.
It felt like for the first time in my life, I was experiencing the true depth of what coffee could be.
They had minimal syrups and no “basic white girl” drinks. Everything was a variation of espresso and milk.
Everyone knew the owner by name, knew his story of coming to the US from Australia, and knew the mission behind the humble coffee truck.
Every day I’d walk to the other end of campus and across the street to get a cortado or iced americano and learn something new about coffee. The prices were about 1.5x-2x as much as the food court Starbucks I walked past every day, and waiting in line took 3x as long, but the quality was 10x better, so I made the trek.
Diluted by Mass Appeal
They eventually opened two brick-and-mortar locations, a signal of their commercial success.
But with growing demand came growing pressure to conform, and my hometown has the collective culinary palate of a dumpster-diving raccoon.
When the business moved their location from a food truck that bounced between campus and the park (where more health-conscious and affluent people hung out) to two brick-and-mortar locations (one near dive bars, and the other inside a mall), they slowly changed their menu to conform to be more appealing to “the masses.”
The menu slowly morphed into a knock-off pseudo-bougie version of Starbucks. More syrups, more double-pump-half-caff-triple-whip-cinnamon-mocha-macchiato-monstrocities, and more high-sugar mass-produced baked goods.
But at least my old favorites were still on the menu—cortados and iced americanos—my only refuge from the inexorable degradation and dilution of pandering commercialism.
I dropped by the last time I was in town.
The boldness and depth that once made them the best in the area is nowhere to be found.
They’ve diluted their espressos, and their black drinks (aka, no syrups or cream mixes) are an afterthought.
What once made them unique is gone.
Even their website is devoid of their Aussie roots or original mission.
They’ve erased their identity, what originally drew people to them, in favor of mass appeal.
They’ve become a local Starbucks knockoff, but their prices are higher, their lines take longer, and their 10x quality is a distant memory.
So what does coffee have to do with being a creator?
It’s easy for us to abandon what makes us unique and helped us accrue our first mini-audience to chase mass appeal.
So how can we as creators avoid diluting ourselves and our message?
By creating “Espresso Content.”
What is Espresso Content?
Espresso Content is strong, bold, concentrated, flavorful, and nuanced.
It’s about answering:
- Who the fuck are you?
- What the fuck is your mission?
- Why the fuck do you care so much?
- How the fuck will you make the world a better place?
Espresso Content is about going deep on topics you’re passionate about. It’s about boldly proclaiming your philosophy and outlook on life because you know by sharing them, you could help someone else live a better life. And it’s about being unabashedly who the fuck you are and showing the fuck up every day and in every piece of content you create.
Nuance is the first thing you sacrifice when you appeal to the masses.
Not everyone likes Espresso Content, just like not everyone likes espresso.
But the people who do, fucking love it.
They appreciate the depth of your content.
They follow you because of what makes you unique and because when you embrace your authenticity, your presence gives others permission to embrace their own authenticity.
Diluting ourselves to fit in or appeal to the masses is how we lose ourselves and end up appealing to no one.
But by being unabashedly ourselves, we attract “the others.”
Because ultimately, we all just want to be accepted for who we are and feel like we belong.
If you want to attract espresso lovers, make kickass espresso.
If you want to attract superficial-thinking tepid-pink-drink-choco-swirl-swilling human bobbleheads, well…you know what to make.
Question for the Week
Are you focusing on delighting a core group of passionate people, or diluting your content to appeal to the masses?
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