📝 Notes from Jenn:
📜 Published: From Worker To Owner: Behind The Scenes At Three Coffee Roasting Cooperatives (Sprudge)- I highlighted three roasting co-ops that recently underwent the conversion process to worker-owned.
Smith shares some parting advice for workers exploring collective action: “You have a lot more power than you realize. One of you is replaceable, all of you are not. I feel like a lot of people are just so beaten down by service work that they really don’t believe that change is possible.”
🛠 Current project: Creative Sparks! We are now in week 2 of a 12-week creative prompt challenge. And if you are feeling hesitant but interested, consider this your push of encouragement to join in.
🔏 Last week,
paid all subscribers received an emotional reflection on the days before and after the new year, accompanied by the making of dumplings.
What happened when I asked ChatGPT to write about coffee
Among the recent slew of layoffs, BuzzFeed laid off employees in their editorial department, saying that content generation will now be done with the help of ChatGPT. Upon that announcement, its stock went up by more than 200%; I imagine investors anticipate a faster creation rate of quizzes via AI instead of human fingers. BuzzFeed says it’s keeping the human-focused journalists (with an ominous for now being implied).
I finally bit the bullet and signed up for ChatGPT. I wanted to know what it could write about the coffee industry. Are copywriters even needed anymore? My conclusion? Most of the answers are generic enough to be applied to many companies but oddly specific enough to fake it in coffee. It doesn’t pass the test if you’ve been in the specialty coffee industry for a while.
In case you don’t know what ChatGPT is, I asked it to introduce itself:
ChatGPT is a state-of-the-art AI language model developed by OpenAI, designed to generate human-like text based on the input provided to it.
I started with something easy. I asked ChatGPT to write marketing copy in less than 150 words for a coffee roaster that cares about sustainability. I did not ask for sourcing or community involvement.
Then I asked for some words from a company being accused of union busting.
Here’s a product description for a specialty coffee that names the producer. A few key phrases jump out here that signal it’s not written by someone in coffee. The coffee is described as “smooth and rich.” This is accurate copy that’s often used for coffee like Maxwell House. In fact, this Maxwell House Original Instant Coffee product description uses words like “rich flavor” and “smooth, balanced taste.” There is also the fact that ChatGPT conflates producer, importer, and exporter into an all-star producer. And finally, after reading about this coffee, you’re left with a feeling of “so what?” So what’s actually unique about this coffee if it sounds like any other coffee you offer?
Another question I asked was for it to write an announcement about a new product from a company that doesn’t know the industry. I swear this statement template works for nearly every new product with founders claiming “disruption.” Recently, Cometeer laid off several employees who were crucial in connecting the company to the coffee industry. If your company relies on community support and you suddenly throw it away? We notice.
The last question I asked for this article was for it to write a short diversity, equity, and inclusion statement. It’s a giant, familiar bowl of word salad. Phrases like “we are committed to taking action” sound nice and are generic enough to be glossed over. But it doesn’t actually describe the actions that are being taken, just that they’re committed to taking these unknown actions. My initial request here was “Write a DEI statement from a company that won't do any of the things it said it would do,” but it refused to answer, saying it was unethical behavior not in line with OpenAI’s values.
I can see how ChatGPT can help someone write or find some phrasing to use. For students that want to fake their essays, Edward Tian created an app to detect AI-generated language. But how different are you, really, if you sound like every other company in your industry out there? There’s no personalization or unique selling point to set you apart. Why should consumers even choose you if they have their choice in duplicate companies?
📤 digital marketing
- What You Need to Know about Social Media Security (Buffer): Make sure you’re protecting your accounts!
- Convince and Convert’s Take on ChatGPT & AI (Convince and Convert): From the content creator’s point of view
- Community-Based Marketing: The Future of Business (Social Media Examiner): “The benefits of community and why it’s a powerful marketing strategy.”
👀 interesting reads
- Here’s What Indigenous Cultural Appropriation in Wellness Culture Looks Like (SELF ): I have also seen this happen with Chinese medicine in the last decade.
You can learn about another culture without feeling entitlement to it. You can recognize that misusing traditional cultural practices can lead to consequences like exploiting, stereotyping, and ultimately, mistreating people whose ancestors created them.
- After Layoffs And A CEO Swap, Cometeer’s Frozen Coffee Pod Business Is In Hot Water (Forbes freemium):
But a more existential friction was also developing between the approaches of two groups of employees at Cometeer: those who saw the business primarily as a coffee company that operated like a tech startup, and those that considered it foremost a tech startup that happened to sell coffee.
There are so many misconceptions over the Asian experience in the US that create this image. It starts to feel conditional, as if the only place for Asians in the US is that of work, of subservience. Also dangerous is when this becomes how we see ourselves.
- Sting Operation: Dutch Bros’ Bee Problem (PHOENIX): Hat tip to Fionn at for unearthing this gem of a piece.
It wasn’t so much the quality of the Dutch Bros syrup that was attracting the swarms, Elmore discovered, as the quantity of it – which is why Dutch Bros became a bee favorite relative to Starbucks or other syrupy beverage drive-thrus.