Human Studies

, Volume 33, Issue 2–3, pp 141–155 | Cite as

Coffee, Connoisseurship, and an Ethnomethodologically-Informed Sociology of Taste

Research Article


Coffee is an important commodity and an important comestible, one that is momentous not only for nations’ economies but also, at the micro-social level, as a resource for interpersonal sociability. Among a subculture of certain coffee connoisseurs, the coffee itself is a topic that is an organizing focus of, and for, that sociability. This paper is an empirical investigation of online narratives produced by hobbyist participants in what coffee aficionados refer to as the “third wave” coffee phenomenon and engages and challenges extant perspectives social aspects of “taste” by inspecting members’ insights concerning their conceptions of taste and their participation in a subculture that comprises taste as an important, central defining aspect. The analytic point of view deployed in this paper is ethnomethodological, one that, instead of emphasizing a priori the social structural characteristics of these connoisseurs as do Bourdieu (In: Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste, tr. Richard Nice, Routledge, New York 1984) and those who work in his tradition, emphasizes discovery of members’ own displayed understandings of the topic at hand. As such, this paper is more than an investigation of the “coffee geek” subculture but is also an invitation to an ethnomethodologically-informed sociology of “taste.”


Coffee Connoisseurship Taste Ethnomethodology 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyThe University of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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