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.