Thought of the day…

So, I’m tired of nonfat milk. I’m also very tired of half-caf. It’s bullshit. It’s really just American’s finding a new way to bastardize something. I’m growing very weary of our ‘have it your way,’ McDonald’s driven culture.

The coffee bar has been mentioned in a few papers lately, all for different reasons and whatnot. With it, we’ve seen a nice influx of business. However, it is this influx that has tainted the list of drinks you would usually find in our que. Meaning, less “Can I have a latte?” and more “Can I have a coffee, topped off with shots, and then an inch of steamed soy.” I realize that what we are dealing with is a far improvement over many other coffee bars in America… However, it only goes to show that no matter how far you strip down the menu, how few options you list, people will find a way to take it and make it ‘their own.’

It is the core of this matter that upsets me. I’m especially tired of the half-ing it all. Literally, there is a woman who comes in and asks for a half decaf, half fat, iced latte. Do other countries see this kind of thing? Where people cannot except that sometimes, when you have a fine beverage, it should be all or nothing.

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6 thoughts on “Thought of the day…

  1. This is a difficult thing for every barista on bar, but in this case it burns a little more than the rest, simply due to the vision in mind when intelli.la’s creators were dreaming the place up. But was their visions so excessive? No. Was it that intelli.la would be any less successful or well received if you refused to make a chai with a double shot in it(or something similarly foul)? Ok, yeah, maybe as much as like 5 to 10%, but theres no way you would ever convince me that something like that or even something more extreme (no skim/decaf – which I’m pretty sure was the original plan) would be a deal breaker with the kind of foot traffic you guys have at that location. The result of simple improvements such as those might be a few pissed off customers everyday, a few customers that appreciate and respect you for it and an entire coffee community that might actually have a shop that exists outside of our minds to point to and say, “Yeah, we have one place in the states that does it right, and they crush it.” It’s hard for us to understand as outsiders and baristas. I’m sure some of the Scandinavians(read Thoreson, Wendelboe, Solberg & Hansen) look at us sometimes and wonder why we even bother…or at least I hope they do, because I ask myself that all the time in between shipments of coffee from Taiwan and Scandinavia. What would happen if Ritual or intelli.la did a black week as Wendelboe did? Would they lose every customer who has grown accustomed and addicted to naturally sweet coffee and perfectly textured milk back to Starbucks or some other shit cafe in the area(oddly enough, there are no Starbucks near ritual that I can think of)? Un-fucking-likely. I mean, if that is true we all need to get the fuck out, because we suck… hella bad. Anyway, at least you don’t work for Tom Colicchio, because apparently that guy requires his staff to literally make anything you ask for, even if they don’t have it in stock. Ramble,ramble,ramble.

  2. I do try to let go. It’s difficult for me. I think of a moment I had in Vegas, where we were at this steak/seafood restaurant. I had a great view of the kitchen from where I was seated, and I watched as the sous turned to the grill man and said, “They want it medium-well.” The grill man replied with a slightly dastardly tone, “I’ll give em’ medium well!”

    As a coffee professional, especially trying to execute at the caliber we are, I feel it’s as though we are doing what we can to make THE BEST latte possible. So, why do people always feel the need to adjust?

    There is a woman who has been coming in, she’s a writer for the NY Times. Apparently, before the LA Mill story ran earlier in the week, she wanted to do a piece one us, but now she feels as though the opportunity is gone. Either way, we were talking about half-caf. I talked about how we change our coffee menu daily and how each day we spend time dialing in each coffee. She initially was interested in a half-caf cup of coffee, but after hearing of all the variables we work with, she quickly decided she wanted our $2 cup of the day, Los Inmortales.

    I guess I just feel like it’s that first hour of the day that is spent dialing in each coffee that makes the modification unacceptable to me.

  3. I’m also getting frustrated with customers these days, but not in the same way as you. Its true Europe hasn’t succumbed to a similar complex state of ordering but we are sadly close on your heels. What does my nut in though, is those who watch you take time and focus on preparing their drink, smirk at suggest what a professional they have, (or some such empty praise) and the whole time they stand their shaking their 5 sugars. I can’t help it sometimes, but all I can ever do is glare and try with all my strength to shoot daggers out of my eyes.

    I can understand why people add sugar as most stuff served out there is foul enough to warrant it. But when they see you put the time in and even if they ask you questions, and you explain what coffee it is, and what you’re doing to produce a better cup, they still won’t part from those fucking sugar sticks. I hate them ryan. I hate them.

  4. We actually ask customers (ordering to go) whether they require sugar or not, and add it to the cup before the espresso.

    Often, if an order comes through with 3-4 sugars in it, we’ll tip some of it out, and simply let the customer think they’re getting their full dose.

    I’ve been getting through 12kg of demerara per week lately, and for a shop of this size, that’s totally excessive.

  5. Ah! I’m so glad I found your weblog. I believe we met in December while I was en route to Argentina.

    I did notice on my return through (Jan. 19th that most of the staff – if not all were new faces from my last visit..). It was a bit dissapointing as I had so much enjoyed meeting everyone in Dec. Keep on pressing for the high standards Intelli is known for! Fantastic space, super people, and good coffee. Definitely a highlight of my travel.

    Thank-you all!

    P.

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