As we commence the 2018 Cigar Year on November 24, 2017, Cigar Coop is unveiling a new rating system. This new rating system uses the Stogie Geeks rating system we adopted in 2013 as a baseline framework and builds upon it. This will have a sole focus on cigar value and be a complementary offering to our numeric merit scoring system. The new system will go into effect immediately.
Back when we formed Cigar Coop, we decided to use a 5-point system for rating a cigar. The five ratings were Pass, See What You Think, Nice to Have, Memorable, and Historic. What was soon discovered is that in order to achieve the goal of being an industry publication, we needed to adopt the industry standard 100-point system. In 2012, the 100- point system was put in place. The 5-point system was also kept. Both systems were solely based on merit and cigar price was not factored in. I now refer to this as the 1st Generation ratings.
In 2013, we joined forces with Stogie Geeks and replaced the Cigar Coop 5-point system with the Stogie Geeks system. The difference was the Stogie Geeks rating factored in both merit and price. By adopting the Stogie Geeks system, it allowed us to have continuity among the brands, and place a value component along-side an industry standard numeric rating system. These will be referred to as 2nd Generation ratings.
Why the Change
The Stogie Geeks system has served both Stogie Geeks and Cigar Coop very well for many years. However, this past year we took Cigar Coop independent. As we have gone independent, we have seen some areas where it could be improved. I had many discussions with cigar enthusiasts who follow the system and discussed realistic buying patterns. At the same time, I solicited feedback and was given both positive and negative feedback on the 2nd Generation ratings. Based on these discussions and my own thoughts, here are the things discovered:
- There was overlap between the Stogie Geeks ratings and Cigar Coop scores. The Stogie Geeks ratings were a combination of merit and value, while numeric scores are merit-based. In reality, Cigar Coop doesn’t need two merit systems, but could benefit from a value component. The current Stogie Geeks system had some shortcomings in terms of how we perceived value. The new ratings reflect a more realistic version of buying power.
- There was a huge overlap between Fiver and Box Split when it came to ten-count boxes. Since there was a merit component with Stogie Geeks’ system, an argument could be made why there is s difference. Now with going to a value-emphasized system, this would be redundant.
- Box Splits were something done more on an occasional as opposed to a regular basis.
- Cigar Enthusiasts do not often buy five cigars. If anything, they only get five cigars if: a) There is a special five-pack; b) Buy 4, get one free or buy 3 get two free.
- The Try One rating was often considered a poor rating. As we discovered when reviewing the Davidoff Royal Release Robusto (which scored a 94) it had an $80.00 price point, but it was hard to justify recommending anything higher than a Try One.
- There needed to be something decisive between “trying a cigar” and “buying a cigar”.
- There are two types of box purchase commitments. Those who buy boxes at events or wait for a discount and those who buy boxes because they believe in the cigar.
- The Cigar Coop audience was not connecting with the Angler rating. At the same time, people really connected with the Chuck Norris and Oasis ratings.
- It was hard to put a Lawn Mulch rating on anything because it seemed somewhat disrespectful. Yet, there was a need to have a rating where the cigar is not recommended.
- The numbers preceding the Stogie Geeks ratings were still being confused with a 100-point scale. Many people perceived the 2.5 as a 50.
What is Changing
There still was a great framework with the Stogie Geeks System, but to make the changes to a value-oriented system, we had to make some modifications. These ratings put a strong emphasis on the purchase-power for the cigar. Over the past two months, the new ratings were beta tested and you might even notice some of the language in our “Final Notes” on some of the more recent reviews.
Today we present the new system which is now the 3rd Generation ratings.
Here are a synopsis of the changes:
- Not Recommended – this replaces Lawn Mulch. If we don’t like a cigar, we don’t recommend it – case closed.
- Try One – we recommend you try this cigar first before purchasing outright. This might be a challenge with FDA, but you can always get one from a friend or an event.
- Buy One – simply means we recommend purchasing a single cigar.
- Buy Multiples – really covers buying 2 or more cigars. In reality, the focus should be on 2 to 3 cigars maximum.
- Box Worthy Consideration – this cigar is good enough to consider a box purchase, but is not a stone-cold lock for one. It might be worth getting if there is a discount or commercial deal. It might be simply because it’s a limited availability.
- Box Purchase – this cigar is good enough to buy a full box.
- Fight Chuck Norris for Them – Easily worthy of a box purchase and worthy of a fight with someone like Chuck Norris for the last box. A cigar in this category or above is worthy of cigar of the year consideration.
- The Oasis – An elite cigar that is one of historic proportions – regardless of price and difficulty to obtain.
Originally the plan was to retire the Chuck Norris and Oasis ratings and give those new names. There was overwhelming pushback to keep these ratings. While it was not my first choice to keep them, they have essentially become institutions and now thanks to the feedback will continue to do so.
The numeric prefixes that existed on the 1st Generation and 2nd Generation ratings are now gone. As mentioned, people often would convert the numeric prefix to something on the 100-point system. This addresses the issue where people considered this to be a poor rating – which was not the case. It also provided more flexibility to add additional ratings should the need or benefit arise.
In 2018, we will introduce a third component which will be a composite of merit and value. It will use an entirely different mechanism and bridge the two worlds together.
The new ratings will be implemented in the upcoming days. The remaining Cigar Coop reviews that were completed during the 2017 Cigar Year, but have not been published will use the 2nd Generation ratings for continuity.
A full breakdown and explanation of the 3rd Generation system and how we got to this point is below.