K Bean - ex Melbourne CoffeeSnobs Sponsor
After 10 years and 3000 posts on CoffeeSnobs as firstly a member, and then secondly as a Melbourne CoffeeSnobs sponsor, I am no longer on the forum. I’m occasionally asked about my CoffeeSnobs experience so here it is, warts and all.
The heart and soul of the CoffeeSnobs forum is a handful of “salt of the earth” hobbyists who are there to help others with fantastic advice. I really admire these members. There are members who buy coffee equipment on a budget and with the help of the community they find ways to brew magnificent coffee without that second mortgage. There are people who join up to just to say a quick hello and to share their experiences. There are also gear freaks who love trying out the latest coffee machines and other toys. And yes, before I started up the K Bean Coffee Machines business I was a well known gear freak on CoffeeSnobs.
Of course there are the commercial players and the usual forum trolls as well but as a hobbyist they are very easy to ignore. I really enjoyed the CoffeeSnobs forum as a member.
Becoming a Melbourne CoffeeSnobs sponsor was a real milestone for K Bean. I has honestly expected a warm welcome but the reality of small business was about to hit me as I moved away from a hobby business and towards a serious business. It was soon very clear that the other sponsors just didn’t want me around.
I was harassed by a number of sponsors along with forum members with allegiances to “the old guard.” There were also a few new “members” with suspicious accounts. One sponsor continually called my posts out for “BS.” Another posted that K Bean should “leave it to the professionals.” Another sponsor fed me misinformation off of the forum then called me out on the forum when I acted on the misinformation. The dramas played out on and off of the forum as I established my small business. It was a real battleground.
CoffeeSnobs Admin was a disappointment as I called out many times for support and was either brushed off or completely ignored. I felt like I was in a school yard being kicked by bullies and getting the classic “just ignore it” response. I recall one time when I was under attack from another sponsor and the advice from Admin truly was just these words: “Don’t Respond.” It was so frustrating.
One major conflict occurred when a very nice new machine arrived from Italy. Another sponsor didn’t want the machine on the scene in Australia so I was targeted in very nasty ways for selling it. Again, CoffeeSnobs Admin ignored my pleas and responded with something along the lines of “we build the sandpit, you to play in it.” Seriously, that was the response.
Another conflict occurred when a competing Melbourne Coffee Snobs sponsor left the forum but kept on posting with a new account where he posed as a regular member. With this account the ex sponsor continued promoting his own commercial interests and he continued to hit me from the shadows with his normal catch phrases including “bean K Beaned” “box shipper” and references to “BS.”
I fought very hard for a couple of years and battled the harassment. It took an enormous amount of energy and I paid a heavy emotional toll. Anyway, I’m very happy to say that with Coffee Snobs is now well and truly in my rear view mirror.
Away from the forum antics, running K Bean Coffee Machines has been living the dream. I’m one of the lucky few who has been able to turn a hobby and a passion into a business and I’m thankful for that every day. To read about my trek from coffee hobbyist to coffee machine retailer take a look at my K Bean Journey Blog