Saturday, August 19, 2006

"Clamouring for espresso... "

On my trip to Dallas, I picked up 10 6oz. cappuccino cups for use at the shop.

After serving one to ever member of the staff, and explaining the difference, as well as donating my 12oz. pitcher (temporarily) to the shop for use, it's finally begun.

Read here.

It appears as though we are beginning to experience the same phenomenon. Someone ordered a cappuccino, and the barista at the time asked if they wanted a traditional cappuccino, or a foamy latte (not in those exact words, but the same effective products respectively). The regular customer decided to try out the traditional. They loved it.

They loved it so much, they came back and ordered a second. They have found their new favorite.

During my shift this evening, a customer decided that he wanted to try something different. Most of the time, when this is the case, the patron orders the "Gen-X".. which is a spur-of-the-moment specialty drink custom-made and created on the fly by whoever happens to be the active barista at the time. (I love this drink.. It gives me a chance to experiment, and get the customer's feedback all at the same time.. brilliant) This guy, however, told me that he usually asks for a suggestion, rather than the Gen-X. Naturally, I suggested my personal preference in a milk-drink: a Traditional Cappuccino.

This guy came back about 5 minutes later. From the look on his face, I was worried that he didn't much like it. Boy was I wrong. He couldn't say enough about it. He, also, had found his new favorite. I then offered him a double espresso, compliments of the house, just to try it. Sure enough, he loved that too.

Now, here's the interesting thing. This customer is FROM Lubbock, the hub of West Texas. Now, most people FROM this region aren't big fans of specialty coffee. Heck, most of them refuse to recognize it as anything different from what you can get at a diner. I have realized something. This customer was rather young-ish. Probably still in High-school. I have realized that specialty coffee is cut out for the young and forward-thinking, almost exclusively. Not necessarily both, but one or the other, for sure.

The older folks who really enjoy all the great things about specialty coffee, are generally very motivated, forward-thinking individuals. This is not to say that this is always the case, of course. This just happens to be the majority of what I've noticed locally in my region.

All of our customers recognize us as the premier shop in town. Every single one of them have said that the best coffee they have ever had, ever, has come from our shop.

That's nice to hear. It doesnt' surprise me in the least, in fact it's something I was already aware of, but the fact that it is recognized by the customers gives me much hope for the development of specialty coffee in these parts, where life is stagnant, where growth is looked upon with untrusting eyes, and where there is no "brazilian, or ethiopian?".. only "regular".

The winds of change are blowing, and I am damn proud to be a significant player in the movement.


stshores24 said...

Just discovered your blog through a post in the CoffeeGeek forums. I like it! Just blogrolled you.

Amos Magliocco said...

Yeah, count another vote in the pro-Coffee Aspirations category. Great blog.

Jason Haeger said...

Thanks, guys. I'm glad you like it.

Amos Magliocco said...

I re-read this last post of yours again in light of what happened to me recently here in Denton. I visited Jupiter House, our only reliable shop (depending on staff), and ordered a cappuccino from the owner, Brandon, who has a rep for some skill and dedication to craft.

I know their standard cappa: two ounces of espresso and a junior-latte portion of milk and microfoam. So when I ordered with Brandon, I tried to find terminology that signaled my intent. I called it a "dry" (not really what I meant but I was trying to lead us away from milk) then a "real" and finally I just spelled out the portions. He held up a proper-sized cup and said, "You're talking about closer to a macchiato."

"Right," I said. Then he gave me a look of recognition that bordered on relief. It looked like nobody had asked him to make something genuine in a long time. He proceeded to make a great drink. He said that most people who order cappas believe they're ordering the same beverage that drains from the big Nestle machine at work: coffee-tainted hot chocolate, in other words. When a customer orders a cappuccino, Brandon said he isn't sure what they're asking for.

If the 'clamouring for espresso' trend can at least halt the diffraction of words like "cappuccino", it will be a great victory.

Jason Haeger said...

I should add that when someone asks for a cappuccino, I will explain to them that we do not serve the "American style" cappuccino, and that all of our Cappuccinos are only "for here" and are served in a 6oz. cup.

I then explain exactly what a cappuccino is, and how big corporate chains have distorted the American concept into thinking that a foamy latte is a cappuccino.

People then either decide to go for a latte, or they are curious and try the cappuccino.

Baristas need to understand that their "regular" customers trust their opinion and advice, and that recommendations actually DO work, quite often. Sometimes it helps to offer a free sample, but other times that can do more harm than good.

Generally I'll say something like, "let me know if you'd like to try something new." Eventually, they will ask for a recommendation, and when they do, you stick it to 'em.

Most of the time, the reaction is quite positive. Alot of them will not have ever tried it otherwise, and are grateful for the new experience, even if they don't much care for such a strong espresso flavor.

Larry said...

"clamouring for update..."

once a month aint so hard