Seriously. Where are we, as humanity, going? On my walk home today I was jamming to some tunes on my iphone. Ear buds dug deep, I was grooving to the new live John Mayer album. As I looked to my right, I caught glimpse of a car occupied by two individuals, sitting right next to each other, both with ear buds. Sitting right there, in a car, next to each other, with ear buds. Ear buds, car, two people, together. I’m thinking twice about where and how I wear my ear buds…
Flickr photos seem to be coming from all sorts of different sources. By now, many of you have seen the evidence of our 1st Anniversary party at the Silverlake store. It was a rad night, and I’m still trying to figure out if there is any way it could have been better.
The night opened quietly with our own production man, Nate Waters, AKA N8000, spinning records on the patio. Man, did he bring the pain or what!?! It was off the hizzy for shizzy. I was hoping more dancing would ensue, but I don’t think there was even enough room.
Wine was provided by our very rad friends at Silverlake Wine. We had a white and a red… The red was from Argentina, and I’d tell you more about it, but I consumed too much to notice. Initially, a friend of mine had supplied me with a couple bottle of Milagro Silver Tequila, but Ty (our manager) was a little worried about it getting out of hand, so I left it at home. Thank god Doug was there to bring some random Brazilian liquor for us to all do straight shots of instead. At least I was working on a mixed drink involving our iced coffee…
We had mucho cheese hanging out all over the bar thanks to the amazing friends we have next door at the Cheese Store of Silverlake. They hooked it up and brought over platters that would make Steve Urkel cry.
What’s an Intelli party without some sort of steamed milk shenanigans? Nothing. So, we had to throw down. We had a $10 buy in and I’m sad to say I had to watch my $10 go… We selected 3 judges who are familiar with art. So big thanks also to Marshall, Mike from Franke, and Tonx for giving us your aesthetic opinions. The three chose Mamma Deanna Mustard, Nick “I hate everything” Griffith, and Kyle “I’m 8th in the World, Bitches!” Glanville for our 3 finalists. Really, you’ll have to peep the video to see who took home the gold. Christopher, one of our newest employees, rocked in some very old school prizes for the competition. Apparently, he had been storing some original Star Wars action figures for future ebay-ing… An idea he gave up for the party.
The night ended well, just in time for me to pass out. Thanks to the Sunset Junction Festival over the weekend, we didn’t have to open until 9:30. Otherwise, I would have been scared for those who came in for coffee. It’s been a good year, and I’m stoked to see where we go in the next.
A thought occurred to me today as I was working our Clovers and making delicious brewed coffee… The clover brewers are behind the machine and in a place where, if you want, you can just listen to all the interactions between other baristas and customers. Now, understand that Intelli.la, or better, Intelligentsia as a whole, is a customer friendly company, and the people who make the important decisions lose sleep over unhappy customer situations. When preparing for our Silverlake store to open, we spent a lot of time tearing into each other over how we spoke to customers, looking down on negative sounding tones and reactions to questions. We put a lot of time into handling customers in the best and most humble manner possible. Over all, I think we’re doing a good job.
In my travels, I’ve spent a fair amount of time hanging out in coffee bars of all sorts. I’ve seen places with many different focuses and many different view points. Some places caring solely on coffee quality, others caring most about customers being happy (even if it meant compromising the quality).
My conclusion is simple. It is not human nature for a Barista to be 100% completely non condescending to customers 100% of the time. Don’t worry, I know I’m being a bit extreme here, but I really don’t think it comes naturally for almost anyone. I can think of a handful of baristas who this may not apply to. However, I think that the more time goes on and the longer you are behind a bar, there’s a part of you that wants to fight for good coffee, and sometimes, as in any battle, bullets stray.
I say this all to remind myself and anyone else that may be weary at times that to stay approachable (and to really impact a customer) it takes a proactive attitude and a teachable mindset. Hopefully, we can all remember this and keep each other in check as to slowly change the majority mindset on what coffee can be.
I also think that much of this comes from what type of personalities make up a lot of coffee people. To be a barista, especially a career barista, you have to care… Mostly because if you don’t, the money isn’t often good enough to keep you around. Leaving the rest of us who are manning coffee bars to be somewhat crazed and psyched to the extreme about this whole coffee bug. And as many of us are radicals, it gets easy to wish our passion too much onto our customers, and sometimes we lose hold of the tether that keeps us sane and connected to elements our customers understand.
In brighter and easier to digest news, someone from Olympia Coffee Roasters stopped by a few days back and dropped of a bag of their Big Truck Espresso blend. Today, we threw the stuff in our third hopper and rocked shots for all the staff that were hanging out. We should have probably done this sooner, but whatever… The shots had a beautiful silky mouth feel and a delicate and delicious sweetness. Thanks to all you Olympia kids for the beautiful coffee. Keep up the rad work! I really need to get up and see that shop sometime…
Yep, so much more life to live. Hopefully. You never know in LA, home of the body bag…
But seriously, it’s been a good year. Looking back, it was 12 months ago Devin and I managed our way into our apartment… Not totally sure how either of us passed any sort of credit check. Which leads me to another idea I have for Sarah Allen… When Baristas live together… It could be a story on intense personalities and how you battle keeping work at work, or not… Just a thought.
Regardless, yesterday couldn’t have been a much better day. It started very hung over after doing many ‘pints in a photobooth’ (See flickr for details and more pictures coming soon). I woke up and Monica and I drove to pick up our good ol’ friend Ashley Rauch from LAX, a drive I don’t recommend when hung over. We rushed quickly to my favorite breakfast spot, Square One. I had an amazing baked egg dish which consisted of mushrooms, grits, gruyere, mustard collared greens, and a side of toast. I spent the afternoon lost in the XBox trap of Assassin’s Creed. Then Monica picked me up for a surprise she’s been talking about for a few weeks now.
I’m not one for surprises. I think many can relate to me here… It’s not that I hate not being in control or knowing what’s going on… But it’s the reaction. There’s that moment when you’re about to receive something someone has worked hard on for you, but there’s no guarantee you’re going to like it. You may hate it, or worst of all, completely have to fake a happy reaction. Yet, generally, the person behind the action is close to you. So close, that the thin veil covering you’re true thoughts is very transparent to them. Needless to say, I was a bit nervous about the whole thing.
My fear and apprehension were completely pointless. As soon as I rounded the corner, of course, while I was on the phone with Brent Fortune… My worry lifted off of me as soon as I saw my lovely lady and eight of the raddest people we know. Monica, being amazing, chartered a boat, and we set sail out of Marina Del Ray.
We spent a little more than three hours sailing from Marina Del Ray up to Santa Monica, with beautiful views surrounding us. Apparently the three things everyone is supposed to do to avoid sea sickness are not drink too heavily, get lots of rest, and not be too stressed. Pretty sure the opposite of those three things described all of us very well. Somehow, we held it together and everyone had an amazing time. Sandwiches, snacks, and beer were passed around, and we barely even scratched the surface of what we had with us. Ashley had a lot of box wine, and was pretty much gone… Jared was living ‘La Vida Ocean,’ and Devin, for once, seemed satisfied.
Watching the sunset over the Pacific was amazing. Parts of the ride seemed surreal. Almost as though we were on a ride at Disney World. The haze of Los Angeles caps the sky, making your atmosphere feel somewhat limited. At the same time, the sunset hits the haze and is somewhat enhanced, making the colors seems more tangible.
Internally, I’ve been reflecting on a lot of thoughts and ideas. I think you are going to start hearing from me more. I will be doing a recap soon on my trip to Portland. For now, I tried to throw some more pictures up on flickr. Oh, and if you are in LA, keep an eye out for the August issue of the New Angeles Monthly. You can find more of my thoughts on another LA Bar there…