Comin’ & Goin’

Yesterday the weather was somewhere around 75 degrees… I spent my day shoveling ice. This morning, the drive to work was 58 degrees and breezy. It feels good to have a chill. Actually, it makes me miss Minneapolis (just a stint). See, last year, fall and winter were different. Being my first in Los Angeles, I was optimistic… knowing little of how and when the weather would change.

This year will be different. We’ve experienced 90 degree heat up until recently… and it could come back. It makes you appreciate the chilled days… when people actually wear coats (which, these sensitive SoCal folk are easlily provoked to doing). I think the espresso tastes sweeter. The coffees dance more vivaciously across your palate… and the most bitter of customers is even more excited to get that extra shot, extra hot latte.

More warm reminiscent feelings come thanks to our newest hire… Ashley Rauche. Many of you know Ashley as the girl who was cutting everyone’s hair in Minneapolis. Ashley started at my first cafe, Lava Java, briefly before I moved to the midwest… She’s a warm and welcoming asset to our crew.

On the opposite end of things… Today is a sad day for Choke. We’re seeing the end of an era, as Jules Manoogian will soon be busting out to Brooklyn to join forces with D-Train Sorenson and his crew. With someone like Jules, Stumptown is going to be really rocking palates all over NY. LA is sad to see her go, but she’s stoked and I am for her. Word on the streetlevel (Verve reference, what!?!), is that upon her jetting, Choke will be pulling the E61 from the bar and ending its in house espresso service. Wack! We’ll see what comes of this legendary establishment.

Well, breaks over. Back to the bar… The coffee bar where we’re finally selling table-top Yama Vacpots… We’re selling them with butane burners for $90 (TCA-3) and $100 (TCA-5)… Get em’ while they’re hot!



At Intelli in Silverlake, we’ve had a set policy from the get-go… A policy to do whatever it takes to make sure a customer is leaving with a smile. This means iced espresso, espresso tossed into brewed coffee, odd milk steamed to all kinds of unholy ways, and so the list goes on. For me, it’s simply different because my coffee “upbringing” was so much the opposite. How our drinks were made was black and white. What things we could do and things we would not do were the same.

The catch to the rule is the same thing that most of our baristas and apprentices have the hardest time learning to do well. The catch is you can negotiate. The most common example of this would be convincing someone to have the iced coffee and espresso seperate, and tell them they can have the espresso for a smaller price, or how about instead of iced espresso, we’ll give you an iced coffee to try. With these negotiations, many people have completely switched over to drinks we feel proud to make.

Yesterday, however, I met my match.

A very interesting-looking gentleman hopped into our line. I was to busy shoveling ice for some iced lattes to hear him actually place the order, but I heard the request for an Esmeralda to be brewed on the Clover. Then, the apprentice on shots (Christopher- a tall, lanky character who’s deep low resonating voice is the beign of his own existence in our terrible acoustics) leaned over to tell me he would be pulling an espresso to have added to the Esmeralda.

Now, the Esmeralda is the one coffee where we’ve been taking a more proactive stand. If anyone orders it, we highly recommend that they have it in a ceramic cup. If they’ve had it before, then we’ll bend more and cater to their need. But if you just popped in for this coffee and you’ve never tasted it, then we really recommend you either have it in ceramic or try another coffee to-go… And maybe come back when you have time to sit and enjoy it (You know, to make it worth the higher price tag). I’d say 90% of these people have no problem taking 10-15 minutes out of their day to actually enjoy the coffee.

So back to my story! After hearing the news, I grab homeboys attention, asking him whether my colleague had offered to give him the components seperate to try… How the experience would be so much better… yada, yada, yada… The response I got was more of an eye-rolling with some muttered words of, “Well, we sell it at my work, and I’ve had it a lot, it’s great, but I want my espresso in it…” Immediately my curiosity is peaked… Upon further conversation and inverstigation he tells me he works at Peet’s. Then he tells me about how much he really likes the sharp lemon acidity of this coffee. Finally, when all is said and done, I hand him the coffee, crema floating on top, sitting somewhat elegantly in a ceramic mug… And then he asked for a to-go cup.

Alas, I was defeated.

In the end, I managed to let go… Remembering that there’s more to life than just one cup of coffee going out with an espresso in it. Needless to say, it’s time to reevaluate and try to balance myself better.