HomeRoast Digest


Topic: OT: iced espresso: how far is too far? (18 msgs / 586 lines)
1) From: Peter Genuardi
I've been enjoying coffee for years, but I've really been focusing on coffee
quality only recently.  While I'd like to help other people enjoy coffee in
the same dimensions I do, I have to believe at the end of the day, the
consumer is king.  I just bought my dad a french press and sent him some
great coffee but he swears by drip and says the FP is great for a "special
day" like Sunday when he has more time.  As disappointed as I am that he
won't enjoy a decent cup made by the FP at least he's enjoying better
quality coffee, I suppose.
I just read an article about Murky Coffee in northern VA refusing to serve
iced espresso and the customer who goes off.http://www.andiamnotlying.com/2008/murky-coffee-arlington-hold-that-espresso-between-your-knees/Where do we draw the line between what we know to be high quality and what
people will buy/drink/accept as gifts?
 - Peter
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2) From: miKe mcKoffee
Coffee is a Journey not a Destination. Each person's Journey is their
Journey not yours or mine. We lead by example not brute force or dictating.
A couple of decades ago fresh roast fresh ground drip was the norm for
workdays, Press for weekends. Later electric Vac replaced drip for weekdays,
Press still for most weekend brewings. Later still Americano replaced FP for
weekends and began encroaching on weekday electric Vac. FIFTH bodum electric
Vac finally cracked and began leaking and Americano became the everyday
first cup of the morning norm and remains so today. Once in a blue moon I'll
brew with the Royal Balance Brewer (vac variation) or Press, but 99.99% of
the time it's espresso in one form or another be it for one, two or twenty
people.
The only line I draw on gifting is I will not gift pre-ground, period. That
is a line I do not draw at the Kafe, can't afford a lost sale...
Kona Konnaisseur miKe mcKoffeehttp://www.mckoffee.com/Ultimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must">http://www.mcKonaKoffee.comURL to Rosto mods, FrankenFormer, some recipes etc:http://www.mckoffee.com/Ultimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must
first not know. And in knowing know I know not. Each Personal enlightenment
found exploring the many divergent foot steps of Those who have gone before.
Pacific Northwest Gathering VIIhttp://themeyers.org/HomeRoast/">http://home.comcast.net/~mckona/PNWGVII.htmSweet Maria's List - Searchable Archiveshttp://themeyers.org/HomeRoast/
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3) From: Chad Sheridan
This could have been handled so much better at the time and later.  
Makes me worried for the future of that place.  It's one thing to have 
standards, but a business does not benefit from employees acting like 
that, assuming the customers are going to steal (a la ghetto latte), and 
then taking an online argument nuclear.  That example of customer 
service, on all levels, to me spells doom. 
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4) From: Michael Irrera
I don't pretend to know Nick Cho, though I know of him from barista
competitions and his inability to manage to pay taxes on the DC outlet of
Murky (which I quite liked, and often went to), causing it to close.
Since the blowup of this little incident, it having been linked all over the
place, Nick has offered a retort on his blog.  You can find his missive,
dated July 14, on their home page, here:http://www.murkycoffee.com/Now, I don't think that what the customer did was particularly in line with
being a "good customer", something we've discussed here recently.  He admits
the same in an update to his original complaint.  But I really don't like
the tone of Nick's response.  
I know many of us refer to ourselves as "coffee snobs", and I'm all for the
preservation of the magic elixir in its best form.  In my home.  But this
guy's supposed to be running a business.  I'm assuming he's successful
(apart from that thing with the taxes), but it's not how I would treat my
customers.
-AdkMike

5) From: Sandy Andina
Let's put this into perspective (espresso bar owners, please weigh in  
here).  I was shocked to hear this--I know Nick Cho and he's not a  
jerk, but very dedicated to his coffee and making his shops  
comfortable for *actual customers* who sit there to drink their  
purchased beverages (rather than nursing a cup of coffee for two  
hours--or even bringing in drinks from outside--while they study, use  
the free wi-fi, or just avoid the rain or heat).  More than once when  
the chairs and sofas were full I've seen him firmly insist that  
bloggers and readers who long ago finished their drinks get up and  
yield their seats to those who purchased beverages and wanted to drink  
them in the shop. So I read the link and then Nick's response.
Sorry, folks, but I have to side with the shop.  It's not a matter of  
"preserving the integrity of the espresso" (although I can see the  
validity of that, just as I can see a wine bar refusing to serve  
champagne on the rocks with a slice of lime in a tumbler, or a fine  
restaurant refusing to serve ketchup or a shaker of parmesan cheese to  
put on a dish where it doesn't belong).  However, the barista should  
have come clean about the real reason:  that people have come into the  
place, ordered a buck-fifty double espresso, poured it over ice and  
then helped themselves to the milk and toppings at the condiment bar,  
thus avoiding having to pay four bucks for an iced latte.  (I have a  
friend who does a similar thing in restaurants--she declines to order  
a beverage, but innocently asks for some lemon slices for her  
icewater; then when a dish full of lemon slices arrives, squeezes them  
all into her glass, pulls some sweetener packets out of the rack on  
the table, mixes it all together and crows about having gotten a free  
fresh lemonade instead of having had to pay a buck or two like us  
suckers who ordered a soda or iced tea).  It's called (racistly, alas)  
a "ghetto latte," because it is often done in shops in less affluent  
neighborhoods or by less affluent customers; but call it what you  
will, folks--it's STEALING.  (Same reason they don't serve espresso to  
go--I guess they have no paper cups smaller than 8 oz., which  
encourages the identical cheating when it comes to hot espresso  
beverages). The barista should have been honest, because of course  
they dilute their espresso all the time--with water for an Americano,  
with milk or half-and-half for cappas, lattes or breves, or the iced  
versions of these drinks, for which they then charge for the added  
ingredients and/or labor.  They serve iced Americani because the water  
doesn't provide sufficient headroom for enough freebie milk to turn it  
into a latte at plain coffee prices.  Now, it is unfortunate and  
perhaps bad business to treat customers as if you assume they're going  
to put one over on you, but Murky has obviously been burned more than  
once by customers pulling the "ghetto latte" schtick (as have other  
shops, hence the widespread use of the term within the industry),  
especially given their largely student and urban customer base at the  
Arlington location. Their policy is no more snotty or reprehensible  
than limiting wi-fi to paying customers (and giving them time-limited  
passwords) or the lunch counters of yore imposing a one-hour-per-cup- 
of-coffee time limit.
There is such a thing as abusing the courtesy afforded one as a  
customer, and it is within the shop's rights to do what they must to  
prevent this abuse. That they need to  establish a policy says more  
about the customers than it does the business; but that they  
nonetheless feel the need to create a pretext as a subterfuge to avoid  
accusing or insulting the prospective customer is a very sad sign of  
the times (and a reminder that without customers--even dishonest ones-- 
there can be no business).
On Jul 15, 2008, at 1:35 PM, Chad Sheridan wrote:
<Snip>
Sandy Andina
www.myspace.com/sandyandina
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6) From: Martin Dobbins
Mike, =
 
Half of the pictures are missing on your web page about the "Frankenformer"=
, can you fix it?
 
Martin
--- On Tue, 7/15/08, miKe mcKoffee  wrote:
Coffee is a Journey not a Destination. Each person's Journey is their
Journey not yours or mine. We lead by example not brute force or dictating.
A couple of decades ago fresh roast fresh ground drip was the norm for
workdays, Press for weekends. Later electric Vac replaced drip for weekdays,
Press still for most weekend brewings. Later still Americano replaced FP for
weekends and began encroaching on weekday electric Vac. FIFTH bodum electric
Vac finally cracked and began leaking and Americano became the everyday
first cup of the morning norm and remains so today. Once in a blue moon
I'll
brew with the Royal Balance Brewer (vac variation) or Press, but 99.99% of
the time it's espresso in one form or another be it for one, two or twenty
people.
The only line I draw on gifting is I will not gift pre-ground, period. That
is a line I do not draw at the Kafe, can't afford a lost sale...
Kona Konnaisseur miKe mcKoffeehttp://www.mckoffee.com/Ultimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must">http://www.mcKonaKoffee.comURL to Rosto mods, FrankenFormer, some recipes etc:http://www.mckoffee.com/Ultimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must
first not know. And in knowing know I know not. Each Personal enlightenment
found exploring the many divergent foot steps of Those who have gone before.
Pacific Northwest Gathering VIIhttp://themeyers.org/HomeRoast/=">http://home.comcast.net/~mckona/PNWGVII.htmSweet Maria's List - Searchable Archiveshttp://themeyers.org/HomeRoast/=
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better
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-that-espresso-between-your-knees/
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7) From: Jared
If the shop has a problem with ghetto lattes then they need to stop putting
free milk and cream out for customers.  I suspect however that this is
really about the shop owner believing that his espresso will not taste good
cold.  All of my Sweetmarias coffee tastes as good or better as it cools.
Coffee that gets better as it cools is to me a sign of good coffee not
bad.   The letter from the Murky coffee guy is to me way more inappropriate
than the original blog post.  Just read the last line of the open letter
from murky coffee.
On Mon, Jul 14, 2008 at 8:12 PM, Peter Genuardi 
wrote:
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8) From: miKe mcKoffee
Nothing is "free", nothing. Somebody pays. Sure don't put creamer out and
inconvenience the 99% good customers AND waste time getting it for each
customer every time needed adding additional expense which means AND
additional price to the good customer because of the few cheapskate thieves.
A shop owner will take into account the cost of maybe half an ounce half &
half per cup in pricing. Some will use creamer some won't, averages out. Far
cry different cost than someone wanting to add 8 or more ounces rather than
paying for a latte or café au lait. That type of "customer" is not welcome
in my shop. =
Big difference between a cup of coffee cooling to room temperature and an
iced straight shot. Especially if you pull the shot directly onto ice cubes,
very bitter out of balance result. An iced Americano or other brewed iced
coffee method is entirely different. =
Was the affair handled appropriately? Not my call, I wasn't there. I also
believe in the adage judge not that you be not judged. But it sure is easy
for wannabes to pass judgement online when highly likely don't have a clue
what it takes to keep a café's doors open.
Kona Konnaisseur miKe mcKoffeehttp://www.mckoffee.com/Ultimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must">http://www.mcKonaKoffee.comURL to Rosto mods, FrankenFormer, some recipes etc:http://www.mckoffee.com/Ultimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must
first not know. And in knowing know I know not. Each Personal enlightenment
found exploring the many divergent foot steps of Those who have gone before.
Pacific Northwest Gathering VIIhttp://themeyers.org/HomeRoast/=">http://home.comcast.net/~mckona/PNWGVII.htmSweet Maria's List - Searchable Archiveshttp://themeyers.org/HomeRoast/=
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9) From: raymanowen
iced espresso: how far is too far?"I've been enjoying coffee for years,
but..." That's it- too far! -ro
On Mon, Jul 14, 2008 at 7:12 PM, Peter Genuardi 
wrote:
<Snip>
-- 
"When the theme hits the bass, I dance the Jig!" - -Virgil Fox at the Mighty
Wichita (ex- NYC Paramount) WurliTzer- 1976
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10) From: Sandy Andina
No, because if that were his primary motivation he would not be  
selling iced Americanos.  And what if he is concerned that ice will  
indeed ruin his espresso? Say a customer comes in because he hears how  
great the espresso is and how he really ought to try it; but he really  
prefers iced coffee (which may be all he knows, or the sludge that  
passes for espresso at Starbucks and which ice can only improve or at  
least mask). He orders an espresso, the barista carefully crafts him a  
"God shot" and the customer pours it over ice.  "Blecch," he exclaims,  
"what's the big deal about this espresso? It's no better than what I  
get at Starbucks."  Indeed, all the nuances of the carefully crafted  
shot are lost. If it ended with that it'd be bad enough, but it  
doesn't. Customer spreads the word about espresso being nothing but  
bitter coffee, and more crucially, that store's espresso being not  
worth the trip.
  Imagine if you walked into the bar at an upscale fine dining  
restaurant, ordered real champagne or an XO cognac and then insisted  
on drinking them over ice from a paper cup.  It's not going to taste  
the way their makers intended, and what's worse, you're likely-- 
especially if you've never had the good stuff before--to bad-mouth the  
stuff to others.  At least my cheapskate friend is honest when I offer  
her my homeroast--because the only way she has ever drunk coffee is  
pre-flavored beans , loaded with sweetener and syrups and creamer,  
that's all she knows and is correct when she says my coffee would be  
lost on her, since that's the way she intends to drink it.
Granted, it's the customer's money and if that's the way he likes his  
espresso why shouldn't he have the right to drink it that way at that  
establishment? Because I can practically guarantee you that the  
specialty coffee shop owner will have seen this before--that for every  
customer who enjoys the shop's iced espresso, there will be ten who  
will see no difference between it and Starbucks and then disparage the  
shop after they leave.
Now, about solving the "ghetto latte" problem by doling out the milk  
from behind the counter (like the old Chock Full O'Nuts chain used to  
do, even putting the milk into the cup) instead of letting customers  
put as much (within reason) or as little into their coffee as they  
want--that would be doing a disservice to customers who buy brewed  
coffee. The milk is there for lightening coffee, not for stretching  
espresso into a latte.  Ditto for the shakers of vanilla and chocolate  
powder--they're there for people who've bought cappuccinos and lattes,  
not for the DIY cheaters.  By your logic, restaurants should not put  
packets of sugar on the table or comply with requests for lemon slices  
if they don't want to be cheated by customers.  There is a balance to  
be struck between providing goodwill and being an easy mark.  If you  
order hot water and a teabag, you should not expect to be allowed to  
grab the ketchup bottle and triumphantly turn the 75-cent hot water  
into a three-dollar cup of tomato soup without paying the three bucks.
If I ran that shop, I'd consider putting up a sign that says "No iced  
espresso, unless you are willing to accept that it will not taste like  
espresso should; and will not stretch it into a do-it-yourself  
latte."  Only the customers with cojones the size of basketballs would  
then go ahead and make ghetto lattes--at which point they should be  
either charged the price of a latte or have their drinks confiscated,  
their money returned and the door not hit 'em where the good Lord  
split 'em.
But hey, I don't run an espresso bar. Your mileage may vary.
On Jul 15, 2008, at 11:21 PM, Jared wrote:
<Snip>
Sandy Andina
www.myspace.com/sandyandina
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11) From: Tom Ulmer
Being denied legitimate service is at best a demeaning experience. Couple
that with a pretentious attitude and I believe it's an excellent recipe for
anger.
This being said, it's certainly the shop's owner to run the business as he
or she deems necessary. It's nice the fellow didn't throw his employee under
the bus for a particularly poorly crafted policy. 
If you are in the "business" of selling coffee, then my opinion would be to
capitalize on every request. A suitable sales price for iced espresso or
espresso with a cup of ice listed beneath the price of a latte makes the
shop's business intentions clear.
I am glad that some of my finest moments as an ass are not immortalized.
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12) From: Les
Reading this thread puts a big smile on my face!  I must confess I was mad
for about 30 secs.  I then realized how much I am enjoying watching the sun
rise over the hills, listening to birds in the trees, using the wi-fi, with
one of my pugs snuggled in to me giving me love as I drink a fine cup of
homeroasted home brewed Nic Java Longberry in my virtual coffee shop that
won't kick me out or hassle me.  In my opinion, it doesn't get much less
hassle free than this!  Why fight the coffee shop?
Les
On Wed, Jul 16, 2008 at 6:00 AM, Tom Ulmer  wrote:
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13) From: Jim Gundlach
To welcome the sun up I took the four dogs on a mile walk before it  
got too warm.  Came back and pulled my second triple of the morning to  
make a cappa out of a make shift blend equal parts of an older java  
and a  Monsooned Mallabar (sp?)  spiked with about 8% Inohki. As I  
headed to the computer the St. Bernard/German Shepherd mix hopped on  
the couch and ordered me over for  a cuddle.  When this dog snuggles  
you know you have been snuggled.  Not at all interested in heading to  
a coffee shop in this area, they won't let me bring the dog in, let  
alone let her share a couch with me and their coffee is nowhere near  
as good.  I might trade Les coffees but not the dog snuggles.
        pecan jim
On Jul 16, 2008, at 8:27 AM, Les wrote:
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14) From: Michael Dhabolt
Gotta agree. Doesn't get much better than this particular coffee shop
with the pooch vying for attention with the keyboard.  The second Capa
of YB, IMV, BB blend sets everything into perspective.
Mike (just plain)
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15) From: Bryan Wray
Here is my reply that I posted over on CoffeeGeek.
This is very interesting considering that he has an article on this site called "The Barista Code of Conduct."
I found this part in the "Code" very interesting:
(Quoted from Nick:)
"Umm... is this decaf? Cuz I wanted decaf."
What happens next will separate the professionals from the primadonnas. The primadonna will immediately argue with the customer, or at the least, turn around in an audible and visible huff, clearly annoyed that he or she had to expend any artistic energy on such a savage.
Baristas, it's not about you, it's about the customer. Recently, someone proposed that we look ahead to the Fourth Wave, saying that their hypothetical "Fourth Wave" is when the consumer-base learns to recognize and appreciate the Third Wave and its endeavors. I vehemently disagree. The Third Wave is NOTHING without its customers! In fact, it's all about the customer.
Let's let bad attitudes and primadonna-stuff die with the Second Wave. If a customer comes up and has a problem with their drink, be it too hot, too cold, not enough vanilla, too much mocha, not enough whipped cream, or not enough foam... the professional thing to do is to apologize and remake the drink for them. People nowadays blow off the old adage, "The customer is always right," because it's obviously not literally true. The customer is often wrong! They DIDN'T say DECAF!!!
However, the saying is pointing to a simple fact in a customer-service setting: it's about the customer. If their needs aren't met, your business' needs aren't met. In fact, other than the obvious things that might be grounds for immediate dismissal at my shop here in Washington DC, such as stealing, etc., I have a well-known rule: when a customer brings their drink back to the bar and needs their drink re-made, if the barista shows any "attitude," they're fired. There is NO room for stuff like that.
So again, what CAN you do then? Treat your customers as you would the judges in a barista competition. You DO want their approval, like it or not. If they don't like their drink and their experience, then they won't want to be a paying customer anymore, and no paying customers... no pay. No pay? No job. It's okay to take pride in your work, but think of it this way, if the customer doesn't enjoy their drink, you can't be proud of it. Your job is to provide the best coffee and espresso experience possible, and if it takes three tries and three 16-ounce lattes of varying temperatures to accomplish that, then isn't that a small price to pay for perfection?
...
The coffee is the centerpiece, but serve it with a side of unprofessionalism, and the total experience is ruined." (End of quote)
To go from that article to threatening a customer?  Unbelievable Nick... truly sad and unprofessional in a way I can't even wrap my head around.  If we all addressed every stupid customer that came in we wouldn't even have time to make coffee, you know that as well as any barista.
Nick, as a leading voice in the coffee industry and more or less the voice and face of coffee as far as the WBC is concerned (at least for Americans) you have to be more careful than anyone how you take an inconvenient customer.
Was the customer ridiculously out of line?  Without a doubt.  What he wrote on the dollar bill and threatening the shop with arson is absolutely uncalled for and grounds for action.  Did Nick take it too far by stooping down to his level and below?  Again, without a doubt.  By reacting the way you did, you gave this guy exactly what he wanted.  He publicly made a fool out of you by upsetting you and making you look as childish and foolish as him.  If someone threatens violence on your shop in a clear and obvious manner you take it to the police.  Period, the end, no need for further action.  When we had a cognitively impaired customer come in and tell us that he was going to purposely slip and fall on our sidewalks and then sue us because we wouldn't let him shovel them for money, it was simple:  Call the police, let them handle him.  And they did, and he hasn't been a problem since.
Truly sad and disappointing.  This is a dark point in specialty coffee's history and progression.  We didn't need this Nick, not at all.
-Bry
---------And now... please let this die, haha.
-Bry
"It is my hope that people realize that coffee is more than just a caffeine delivery service, it can be a culinary art"- Chris Owens of Cafe Grumpy in NYC.
--- On Wed, 7/16/08, Michael Dhabolt  wrote:
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16) From: Sandy Andina
On Jul 18, 2008, at 5:50 PM, Bryan Wray wrote:
<Snip>
  Never use the words "die" and "haha" in the same sentence to anyone  
who's ever done standup comedy. Too close to home.
Sandy Andina
www.myspace.com/sandyandina
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17) From: Alchemist John
Bry,
I have been attempting to compose a reply to this thread, and I just 
deleted it.  You nailed it.  IMO, the customer was wrong, Nick was 
wrong (but should know better), and it takes two to fight.  Well said.
At 15:50 7/18/2008, you wrote:
<Snip>
John Nanci
AlChemist at large
Zen Roasting , Hand Grinding, Blending & Espresso pulling by Gestalthttp://www.chocolatealchemy.com/Homeroast mailing list
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18) From: Les
Bry,
Thank you for your great response.  One of the reasons I am a home barista
is some of the poor treatment at some shops and ignorance at others.  When
you ask for a ristretto and the barista gives you a blank stare you know you
are in trouble.  On the other hand, I have had wonderful experiences at a
few shops.  Stumptown and Mike McKoffee's to name two.  At Stumptown once
the barista did two sink shots before serving me and said "if you don't like
it bring it back." on the superb shot I was served.  In defense of some
baristas, they at times work for shop owners that are jerks.  I know one
barista who quit because she was charged for every sink shot!  One shop had
two awesome brisatas who were not allowed to adjust the temperature of the
machine for optimum flavor.  Theirs is a tough job, but poor customer
service is not an acceptable part of the task.
Les
On Fri, Jul 18, 2008 at 5:07 PM, Alchemist John 
wrote:
<Snip>
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