Murchie’s on the block

Stodgy Murchie's on chopping blockIn 1975 I got one of my first introductions to specialty coffee via Murchie’s of Victoria. My Brother-in-law bought me a bag of Dark French coffee. At 15 years of age, I was in for a bit of a shock. This was not what I was accustomed to… but it would set the wheels in motion for what would be a future endeavor for me.

Coffee. Coffee, coffee, coffee.

Here in the 21st Century, the old Murchie’s firm is now on the block… for sale… to the highest bidder I guess.

But why?

The Receiver-manager of Murchie’s Canada blames the firm’s demise on increasing material and labor costs.

Right. In a red-hot economy where everyone is doing terrific thank-you very much, we can blame labor and material costs.

Let me see. The raw materials, Tea and Coffee can still be purchased for cheap (if you bypass the Fair Trade options — much as Murchie’s has me-thinks) and then you mark them up 200 to 400%. The result: Profit.

Labor costs are at something of a historic low in B.C. – the minimum wage being something under 9$/hour.

So. What is the real deal here?

I think Murchie’s have been sitting on their hands for so long and have entirely lost touch where specialty coffee has gone in the last decade. Visiting a Murchie’s today is like jumping onto an episode of the Time Tunnel. For you Gen-Xer’s, it means that Murchie’s lives within a temporal time bubble – somewhere in the late 1800’s. They are out of touch with modern coffee commerce and the new reality of better coffee served by people who know coffee.

Murchie’s: I wish you luck!

In 1975 I got one of my first introductions to specialty coffee via Murchie’s of Victoria. My Brother-in-law bought me a bag of Dark French coffee. At 15 years of age, I was in for a bit of a shock. This was not what I was accustomed to… but it would set the wheels in…