One of the great things about having a site survey is the number of great replies you can get, especially in a write in category. I'd like to thank everyone for their very valuable comments in the past few days, almost everything that has been submitted has been very useful in plotting a good chart for the future of this website. I'd like to take the time to reprint a few of the comments, and provide feedback.
Specific Comment Feedback
First I'd like to tackle some specific comments, and provide direct feedback on them.
Reader comment: More professional advice and insight from columnists. More stories from people that went from amateur to pro. Coffee roasting & blending advice for the homeroaster with ball park examples that you tweak from those settings using a purpose built home roasting machine taking into consideration uncontrollable variables like line voltage & ambient temp. Like how do you emulate an Illy or Peet's roast/blend at home for example. Like those digital modeling amps where you dial in the types of amp & speaker cabinet to make your guitar sound like the original artist's guitar. How well you play is another thing. How do you maximize the potential of your particular espresso machine. Livia this month, Sylvia next month, Gaggia in 2 months & so on. Similar to the Rancillio fan site. Im sure a lot of espresso machines are underutilized. Size is not everything it's how how you use it sort of speak.
Wow. This is one of the most complex feedback pieces, and it's chock full of great suggestions and advice. Let me try to tackle a few of them:
More professional advice and insight from columnists: Great idea, and we're working on expanding our columnist section and getting the current crop of great writers to more focus on their areas of specialties. Terry Z. recently posted a detailed view of the e61 grouphead design, which is a killer piece for those who want the techie stuff. Also, email the authors directly where you can to make suggestions on what articles you'd like to see.
Coffee roasting & blending advice for the homeroaster: Home roasting is something I hope we can really expand on in the next few months. I'm shopping around the idea of a regular column to a few of the online home roast pioneers, but the problem is, everyone I've asked so far doesn't have the time. I'm still looking. In the meantime, I'll try to get the tips and tricks section going again with some home roasting stuff.
How do you maximize the potential of your particular espresso machine. Livia this month, Sylvia next month...: Again, another great idea, especially for the tips and tricks section. I'll get working personally on a Livia article to this effect soon, and I'll shop around the idea for other major machines to those who own them.
Reader Comment: For the content, I'd REALLY like to see more of the tips & tricks type info. I've gleaned a lot from different sites and alt.coffee, but it seems like this would be a good forum to publish more of the lessons learned by experience type info. Granted, that's a relative newbie just looking to suck up the wisdom someone else has had to work to get...
I agree that the Tips and Tricks section has been woefully neglected. Once I wrap up my own work on our discussion boards, I will dedicate a few dozen hours a week to getting some new content up in this section. Several of you have provided some awesome ideas for the Tips and Tricks section, and I'll get working on those soon, and also try to recruit a few folks to help out (if you would like to help out, email me at email@example.com)
Reader comment: Organization. I see something referenced in a review that I cannot find on the site. I have to assume it is there somewhere, but finding it is next to impossible. This is so frustrating that it keeps me from using this site more.
I hear you loud and clear. I will work harder to make things "more in context" with full internal linking if we reference something on the site. I will also remind the other content writers for the site to do the same. Another reader suggested providing direct links to consumer reviews for any "Detailed Review" article we do, and we'll be implementing that with the next DR that goes on the website.
Reader comment: I think that the CoffeeGeek site should include a bit more information geared toward newbies. (others wrote this as well)
Again, I hear you loud and clear. We have plans for a sort of "Newbies Appreciation Month" scheduled, and I'm hoping now to get it rolling out in June. It's gonna be huge. But we'll soon have a regular columnist that will tackle "newbie" issues, and I hope you'll find it a good read.
Reader comment: swimsuit edition
I wish!!!! :)
Reader comment: i might expand that a little to more general coffee education for newbies too. if we are going to help people think more about coffee in terms of wine -- fine stuff of many varieties, maybe you might want to have a regular columnist who discusses varieties. maybe simplified cupping. but not in a fancy pretentious way, which probably scares off most people.
Great suggestions and I will get a few of our authors who are experts in this area to consider these types of stories.
Reader comment: more "sources" for machines, beans, especially in Canada. I did see the Buying gear in Canada article and appreciated it.
Look for expanded articles specifically for Canadians some time this summer when we do a "stock evaluation" of the website and possible reorganization.
Reader comment: question and answer, advise column
We had this planned in the development stage of the website. In fact, every regular columnist would have their own "question and answer" mini discussion board, and we implemented it for a while. No one used it. I'm hoping that the discussion board, once launched, will pick up this slack. We'll have a Questions section, for sure.
Reader comment: I would love a links section that let me wander off to related sites of interest to coffee fans. More recipes (tips and tricks?), more stuff. If I find time after I'm married this fall, maybe I'll try and contribute a little middle eastern information.
I would like to incorporate a links section on the website. The problem is, who do I provide links to? If I'm selective, then it becomes biased. If I leave it free for all, it's an open invitation for scams. The last thing I want to do is police this kind of thing. We could have a reader-submitted links section, where you would have to post a link and write a small one paragraph writeup about the business or website. I'll consider adding something like this.
Reader comment: Recipes for both coffee based drinks and things to eat with coffee (e.g. biscotti).
Recipes is something I considered adding to the website, but in the end, I decided not to. However, I will get a recipe section back on the www.coffeekid.com site soon, perhaps that will suffice? There's also a myriad of other websites online with these kinds of recipes. And when the Discussion boards launched, there should be a few places to post your own favourite recipes.
Three different readers wrote: A column by Tom Owen.
I'd love to get Tom to write for the site. I've asked once, but Tom is a busy guy. Maybe if a few of you start an email campaign :)
Reader comment: coffee ratings; both green and roasted & both geek and consumer ratings, vendor ratings, information about getting to and making use of alt.coffee, a newbie (complete novice) guide to coffee and espresso, top ten lists, coffee shop/bar/cafe ratings, Mother of all coffee links, Deal of the day/week/month etc, video help/tips ie what a correct pour looks like/bad pour/tamping procedures/etc, coffee glossary, Coffee myths & untruths or don't believe the hype, Why bad coffee happens to good people.
General FeedBack Comments
Some themes were repeated several times by our readers, and in this segment I'll do my best to answer them.
Several readers asked for a buy and sell board, a direct place to interact, discuss specific topics including espresso, coffee, specific machines, etc. We will have all of this once we launch our discussion boards. They are still under development and the reason why the "beta" tag on our logo still exists. I ask that you be patient with us - we're developing the dboard programming from scratch so it perfectly suits this website's needs, and it is taking time.
Several readers asked for coffee bean and cafe reviews or reviews of companies that sell machines or beans. This is something we won't be doing on this website, at least not in an official way. I personally feel that reviewing coffee is far too subjective, and that my own palate is not developed enough to do a bean review on this website. In fact, I don't think anyone can do it fairly - taste is far too subjective. However, we will have a spot in the forthcoming discussion boards to post your own bean reviews, and cafe reviews.
Reviews of companies? I wouldn't touch that with a 50 foot pole :)
There are also some interesting point/counterpoint comments. For example, one person wrote:
The detailed reviews are too wordy and not very well organized. Pros and cons of a product are woven in and out of a review so that no clear picture comes to light.
And another person wrote:
The detailed reviews could stand to be a bit more detailed. I saw that you mentioned dpreview.com as your inspiration for your own detailed reviews, but your looks at products do not come close to what the fellow at that website does. How about beefing them up more!
We're still trying to strike a balance in the Detailed Reviews. They are without a doubt the most complex thing we do for the CoffeeGeek site (outside of all the programming work that goes on here), and it is still very much a work in progress. Still, it might be impossible to make them the way everyone wants them.
Here's another one two punch. One person wrote:
More commercial reviews. I am getting more into the commercial end and find Coffeegeek lacking.
and the very next comment (seriously!) made was this:
The site is aimed on people buying expensive machines, and it is performing very well at this level. However, I would like to see content for people who are still drinking regular coffee!
Uh oh. :)
So far, the feedback has been amazing, and has fueled us with many ideas, so thanks to everyone. I'll work hard with the other CoffeeGeeks to implement this stuff as the months pass. I never forget that this site is all about you, and what you want out of an information website about coffee and espresso.
Stay tuned for the next installment, which will be daily updates from the SCAA show, complete (I hope) with pictures. I'll be wired to the Net wirelessly from the floor of the show, and along with my trusty Nikon Coolpix, I hope to do nightly updates for y'all.