What happened when I asked ChatGPT to write about coffee

Sorry, AI can't do everything.

📝 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.

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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.

Screenshot of words: Welcome to our sustainable coffee roastery. Our mission is to bring you the best coffee while making a positive impact on the environment and communities we serve. We source our beans directly from farmers and use energy-efficient roasting technology to reduce our carbon footprint. Our beans are ethically sourced and of the highest quality. We also support education, healthcare, and community development initiatives in coffee-growing communities. When you choose our coffee, you're choosing a product that's delicious and made with love for the environment. Join us on our journey to make a difference, one cup of coffee at a time.

Then I asked for some words from a company being accused of union busting.

Question: Write some words from a company being accused of union busting   Answer: Dear valued customers, employees, and stakeholders,  We would like to address the recent accusations of union busting that have been brought to our attention. We take these allegations very seriously and would like to state that we are committed to maintaining a fair and respectful workplace for all of our employees.  We understand that the ability for employees to unionize is a fundamental right, and we respect and support this right. Our company does not engage in any practices that would hinder or prevent our employees from exercising this right.  We are currently conducting an internal investigation to fully understand the situation and determine if any actions were taken that are inconsistent with our values and policies. We will take any necessary steps to rectify the situation if it is found that our policies or procedures have been violated.  We would like to assure our employees, customers, and stakeholders that we are committed to creating a safe and respectful workplace for all. We believe that open communication and collaboration between management and employees is key to creating a positive work environment.  We understand that our reputation and the trust of our stakeholders are of utmost importance, and we are committed to maintaining this trust. We will continue to take any necessary steps to ensure that our employees are treated fairly and respectfully, and that our practices align with our values and commitments.  Sincerely, [Name of Company]

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?

Introducing the exceptional specialty coffee from [Producer Name], a producer dedicated to sourcing the finest and most unique coffee beans from around the world. This coffee is a rare find, carefully selected for its exceptional flavor profile and unique characteristics.  With a medium-light roast, this coffee offers a delicate and nuanced flavor experience. Notes of [flavor notes] are prominent, making it a perfect choice for those who appreciate a complex and sophisticated cup of coffee.  [Producer Name] takes great care in sourcing only the best beans from small, family-owned farms. By working directly with these farmers, they are able to ensure that they are supporting sustainable and ethical practices while also obtaining the highest quality beans.  This specialty coffee is perfect for the discerning coffee drinker who is looking for a truly extraordinary coffee experience. Whether you enjoy it black or with a touch of milk, you're sure to appreciate the care and attention that goes into every cup of [Producer Name]'s specialty coffee.  So why not indulge in a cup of this exceptional coffee today and discover the difference that quality, sustainability, and ethics make in your cup.

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.

Question: Announce a new product from a coffee tech company but the founders do not have coffee experience  Answer: Attention coffee lovers! We are thrilled to announce the launch of our latest product, [Product Name], from [Company Name], a cutting-edge coffee tech company.  Our team of experts, who come from diverse backgrounds in technology and innovation, have combined their expertise to create a product that will revolutionize the way you enjoy your coffee. [Product Name] is designed to provide a consistent, high-quality cup of coffee every time, no matter where you are.  Our team was inspired by their passion for technology and the desire to improve the coffee-drinking experience. We know that the perfect cup of coffee starts with quality beans, and [Product Name] is designed to enhance and preserve the flavor of each and every bean.  With [Product Name], you can enjoy your favorite coffee in a way that is convenient, simple, and delicious. Whether you're a busy professional or a coffee aficionado, [Product Name] is the perfect solution for those who want to enjoy a great cup of coffee on the go.  We are confident that [Product Name] will exceed your expectations, and we can't wait for you to try it. Join us in our mission to bring the best coffee experience to everyone, everywhere.  Stay tuned for more updates and information on how you can get your hands on [Product Name].  Best regards, The [Company Name] Team.

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.

Question: Write a short DEI statement  Answer: At [Company Name], we are committed to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of our business. We believe that diversity brings unique perspectives and ideas, which strengthens our company and enriches the experiences of our employees and customers.  We are dedicated to creating an inclusive and respectful workplace where everyone is valued and treated with dignity. We strive to foster an environment where all individuals can feel comfortable being themselves and are given equal opportunities to succeed.  Additionally, we are committed to taking action to address systemic inequalities and promoting diversity in all aspects of our business, including our hiring, development, and promotional processes.  We believe that a diverse and inclusive workplace not only benefits our employees and customers, but it also helps us to better serve our communities and drive positive change in the world.

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?

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