I am at a friend’s house for dinner when the doorbell rings. It is Dirk, a friend of the host who I only vaguely know, came by and joins us for a beer. “You do something with tea and coffee, ” he says to break the ice. “I don’t like coffee. I don’t care for that smoky mocha flavor. I drink tea sometimes. Actually same pot. It just like when someone says: I don’t like potatoes. Which kind? Mash, boiled, fried as chips? In the gaps between Dirk’s sentences I hear sounds of surprise escaping from me.
Until recently I would have called out “stop” after three sentences and try to persuade someone with hard evidence of the wonders of coffee and tea. Now I let Dirk finish off his speech. In the meantime, I think of a strategy to change his mind. I find it a true shame that he hadn’t yet had any good experiences with coffee or tea. Smokey mocha flavor, come on! While he speaks, I make a profile of my “project.” Is he the smug, self-centered type or does he just not know what he is talking about? What does he like to eat? Does he smoke? What drinks does he like: is he the beer type or more whiskey? Shall I try to convince him with argument or shall I ask him to come by for a tasting in the shop?
Tea equals flu
I see Dirk’s type more often in my work. I find it a sport to change their opinions of coffee and tea. Most of the time it works: from an uninterested guest at the shop to a skeptical top chef. Incidentally, it is more difficult to break the barriers with tea than coffee. Particularly men are difficult to convince: “tea is only for when you have the flu!” I surprise that type of guy with strong-flavoured teas, if you try to give them the fragile Japanese sencha green tea, you lose them forever, “what a weak cup.“
In the meantime Dirk was finished with his story. It is time for resolution. “Good, Dirk” I say calmly, “why don’t you come by sometime? Then I will let you taste different kinds of tea and coffee.” To my great surprise, he accepts immediately. Step one toward succeeding in my mission. “More soup, anyone?”