Today began with a great coffee experience. It was the kind that I just want to write about and share, because it’s the kind that doesn’t happen that often. Monica and I decided to hit up the always good Square One just off of Fountain, across from the terrifying Scientology World Headquarters. The establishment was just taken over by new owners… who are from Chicago. They recently started serving our coffee and just added espresso drinks to the menu… Now, normally, restaurants have terrible coffee. This just seems to be common fact. But recently, the girls who bought the place hired Julia (who is pictured here helping the Irish Barista team back in ’06), Deaton Pigot’s girlfriend. She thought she had hung up her apron for good, but apparently she was wrong… The macchiatto I had was delicious. Though this macchiatto was made with Black Cat, it tasted so differently from the anything I’ve been tasting at our store. The milk made the entire thing from top to bottom taste like sweet caramel on the first sip and deep chocolate and toffee as it lingered on the palate. The experience was only heightened as I dove into my omelet made with diced ham and red bell peppers. Normally bell peppers only distract me from foods I love, but here they only complimented the cheese and onions surrounding the ham. On the side was a nice pile of grits with cheddar and thick chunks of smoked bacon. The last bite on my plate was a spoonful of the grits, cheese, and bacon… biting in I could just taste the juice from the bacon leaking out and coating my palate. It was divine. I don’t think the day could have started better.
I wish everyone at the coffee bar could have started their day the way I did. Instead, most were rudely awaken after a long night. Marco, our sales rep (who’s reputation for notoriously breaking every dish insight at the store still lingers on), threw a smashingly good party at his new pad. I’m really glad I stopped when I did.
Thinking of parties brings me back to Minneapolis. Which was great. Another post on this will follow shortly, but for now, let me say something that has been on my heart for a bit… I am incredibly proud of who I work for and with. I’m not talking about our new champ… He knows we’re stoked for him, but I’m talking about the 4 Chicago baristas who competed. Michael Phillips, Alexandra Switzer, Talya Strader, and Charles Babinski all deserve a lot of credit for their hard work. I’ve talked about Mike before. He’s a strong barista… I mean, he is the reigning Great Lake Champ… Going into this experience, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Chicago team. I met Alex last year in Long Beach, but knew nothing of Talya and Charles. All I can say now is that if they are just an example of the kind of quality of people we work with in Chicago, then I am nothing but proud to be an Intelligentsian. I hope somehow we can have more opportunities to cross paths. I especially hope that neither of them throw in the towel with this competition thing. I hope both return next year. Working with them in the booth was a real privilege.
Bottom line, and the thing I learned through this, is that I hope the gaps that keep Chicago and Los Angeles separated can begin to dissipate. We all have high goals and aspirations. Neither group is close to achieving what we are capable of. We’re all moving forward. I know this company will grow into something spectacular as long as we keep moving in the direction were going in. Doug Zell has every reason to be proud.
Well, it’s back to the bar for me… Hope you all called your moms.