Luca D. Majer
Coffee  Music  and Other Things  

Who is Geert and why does he drink coffee?



"I love orange"


Summer 2012 finally arrived, altogether with a few more episodes of what the international press has finally dubbed the "Capsule Wars". But even if the legal bickerings around the Nespresso compatible capsules get a lot of press, yet, personally, well... don't ask me about them for a while.

My reluctance? Blame it on a certain Geert, as in Geert Lohgman, "a coffee drinker from Amsterdam" to borrow the words Reuters has used to define him. In this Reuters article (mirrored by the Chicago Tribune, USA Today and even the Balochistan Online) about the coffee market, Geert has definitely a prominent voice. And Balochistan, in case you wonder, is the largest province in Pakistan - with Qwetta as its capital.

To "coffee-specialists" the article was pretty meaningful. The title, to start, was "Cheaper coffee helps Egberts take on Kraft".

Wow! If you work in the coffee business that title meant just one thing: the current (less un)favourable coffee prices would seem to allow Egberts (that is Douwe Egberts Master Blenders 1753, or DEMB, a 250+ years-old roaster based in Utrecht, Holland) to take on Kraft. In more proper words, DEMB, currently coffee-roaster number three world-wide, would be about to overtake Kraft's market share or second place in the Gotha of global coffee-roasters. At least this was the news that Reuters, Chicago Tribune and Balochistan On Line were proposing to their readers.

If you were to ask yourself why "cheaper coffee prices" could not favour equally Kraft and keep DEMB at distance - well then you would have been out of your element. No reason to even think at that.

Had you read a bit further down the articles, though, different versions of the same (rather simplistic, shall we say?) story were to be found. In fact Reuters explained that DEMB:
"It has the freedom and war chest to take on Kraft and emulate world No 1 Nestle"

while the Balochistan On Line, in a slightly more Marvel-comics/esque take of the same news, explained that DEMB:

"It has a leisure and fight chest to take on Kraft and obey universe No 1 Nestle"

At this point, to be honest with you, your humble narrator felt as lost as a pheasant in a corn field on a really foggy morning. And it was during this slight Internet-induced haze that mr. Geert, mr. Geert Lohgman of Amsterdam made finally his appearance.

To cut it to the bone, Geert (in this Reuters article, and I must stress just in this article) is the testimonial that rules completely out of the way the possibility that DEMB will ever become number one in the world of coffee roasting. Perhaps a good number two, kicking Kraft to 3rd place basically thanks to cheap coffee prices.  BUT... certainly DEMB will not ever be the number one. Indeed not. Why? Well, here you got the explanation:

"I am very proud that Douwe Egberts is Dutch. But I don't think they will be able to compete with Nespresso. Nespresso has much better quality, the coffee is very strong and tasty"     

OK, then. Now. You're a smart gal/guy and you already know that the Balochistan On Line had a different version of the same comment, don't you?
True, indeed. So, there you go:

I am really unapproachable that Douwe Egberts is Dutch. But we don’t consider they will be means to contest with Nespresso. Nespresso has many improved quality, a coffee is really clever and tasty

About the "tasty" there is no contest: both sources seem to agree. (Let alone whether that term makes sense, technically - but this is a horse of a different color) For the rest of this raving interview with Geert we can assume the journalist of the Balochistan On Line (a certain mr.... Baloch) decided to double-check the Reuters article using the Bad Translator  software**. Well, I can't mean him no harm: I like Bad Translator (especially if you feel like playing jokes on supposedly serious matters) and - on top - I don't even know mr. Baloch.

Yet some questions (I must confess) came to my mind. Aimed at the Reuters' journalist, specifically, not at mr. Baloch.

Could someone please tell me who is Geert? And where is Geert coming from, I mean professionally? That is: what does he do, besides drinking coffee? Because when I google him I can only get 8 hits (June 26th 2012 search*) most of which are from the Balochistan On Line, the Chicago Tribune and USA Today. Why Geert does not have a Facebook page? And why he is not on LinkedIn or YouTube?

Could I (or mr. Baloch, for that sake) have possibly mispelled Geert's last name? Well, neither a Geert Longman, or Geert Loghman, or Geert Logman exist (at least on the Internet, on June 26th 2012). Could I get a picture of Geert sipping his beloved coffee? No. So: why Geert does not exist, Internet-wise speaking? And, excuse me for being a traditionalist, but... also: why should I, while busy in trying to keep up-to-date, BOTHER to get him to tell me what the future of two or three coffee titans is going to look like?

Talking about testimonials might actually get me waaaaaay out of context. And trust me: Ich bin no expert.

Because testimonials started boring me to high heavens since that time when David Manning (a film critic of the Ridgefield Press, a small Connecticut paper, frequently quoted by the press commenting certain movies) proved at first to be totally unknown to the Ridgefield Press. And then he proved to be... not; totally. A totally non-existent critic. Ultimately, the production company whose movies used to feature amongst David's most positive approvals got fined.

Geert is most certainly a totally different breed than David's. He's most probably an avid coffee drinker whose opinion is really important, and a guy who dislikes social networking on the Internet. Nobody can blame him for that. But his candid remarks, I must confess, made me think twice about reading the press in order to get to know the global coffee market.  So I made myself a promise: summer come, I won't be reading about the coffee world for a while. I will enjoy this summer's heat-wave with different literary objectives in mind. And take my pick: read the financial press. Absolutely plenty of interesting news.

One (soon to avalanche in the blogosphere, no doubt) was about the 450 million dollars fine (and no criminal charges) to Barclays, the bank who orchestrated the fixing of the LIBOR rate. In court they dug out e-mail exchanges that showed the brutal confidence used by the Barclays bankers with the people in charge of determining an index that happens to be fairly important for many "little" people. I have not yet read the Balochistan On Line version on the LIBOR news. Let's say I am kind of anxious to read it.   

* Note for you Web-surfers: in 3 weeks, on July 15th 2012, the total hits for "Geert Lonhgman" had jumped up 241. On July 28th 2012 they went up to 277, 283 on July 31st, and growing. Now, on May 8th 2014, his count was seven hits, including this article.


 LDM © June 27th, 2012