I, am a gutless wonder.
Allow me to elaborate.
Coffee for me isn’t just about the drink itself. It’s an entire range of factors that make up the experience. Finding the right mix of all elements is rare. Finding the right mix of all of the elements in a location close to your work place, is even more rare. Things I look for in a place I pledge my allegiance to are:
It’s got to be good, and consistently so. It’s the drink that kick starts my day. That settles me into the mode of my work and generates significant conversation first thing. It’s what surfaces and holds together the commonalities of an otherwise disconnected office population. Most cafes that have multiple baristas can’t manage this and lately, as you will discover further down the page, I am having consistency issues with my cafe of choice, even though, he’s the only one barista there.
Good coffee isn’t just about the drink itself. It’s about quality. It’s about raising your standards to a measurable height and then working hard to keep them there. It’s about allowing people to believe in a consistent effort. It’s about allowing your customers to feel secure in the knowledge that this cup of coffee will always get you through the day. Its about commitment. It’s about Love.
Many high quality cafes fall short here. I have been to pretty much every cafe in the CBD and can conclude that there are two outstanding cafes that give you great coffee, and actually make you their friend. You know, I like that. It’s an excellent start to an otherwise menial day characterised by the cold indifference of people you never really liked anyway. Exchanging banter, talking about random nothings and having a laugh with people who actually get your sense of humour is awesome. Eventually you get to know all the staff and their life stories. You enter a new family.
Please understand though, there is a difference between friendly and obnoxious. No need to cross the line. I found a funky happening kind of coffee joint that staffed funky happening, funny kind of people and the relationship eventually turned sour when the barista became an obnoxious prick.
Sure, you’re the best coffee house in the city but to get a coffee, I need to set aside in excess of 30 minutes each morning. Sorry. That’s a no go. Slow baristas and slow service staff irritate me beyond understanding. Especially at that time of the day. First thing in the morning, CBD workers are not interested in your weekend as you’re detailing in a “show-n-tell” style to your favourite customer. Besides, I’m supposed to be your favourite customer. *raised eyebrow*
Coupled into the timing factor is the issue of messing up your order. Ordering a cap with a chai latte results in both of you getting chai lattes? Err. No thanks.
Ordering before 3 other people and still getting your order lost in the crowd of take-aways? No thanks!
Not having your order taken at all even though you’ve paid? I’m getting angry!
You need to be a short walk away from work and you NEED to take orders over the phone. Seriously. What’s up with not putting your details on the internet so I can find your number and call to place an order? Oh, you’re sooooo exclusive that you only rely on word of mouth, underground marketing. Boo to you dude. Boo. To you.
Don’t be one of those cafes who need to inch their prices by 5 or 10c each quarter. That gets annoying real fast. What if you’re trying to budget? Not your problem though is it Mr Cafe That Inches Their Prices Up Every Quarter? *glare*
Also, if your coffee’s $5 a pop when the local rate is $4, it better be bloody good.
6. Stir The Sugar!
I’m thinking of starting a facebook group about this. Why, when I order a cap with one, do they never stir the sugar properly? I want the sweetness throughout the coffee NOT just towards the end when it’s disgustingly sweet. OR if you don’t have time to stir the coffee, put some stirrers at the till so I can take them if I need to. The same applies to serviettes/napkins. Seriously, don’t be stingy about these things. That’s just poor form.
So. As you can see, I am somewhat particular about my choice of cafe. It’s how I am. I cannot change. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to. I found my cafe that fitted all the criteria plus some. What’s that you say? Well, they do the old fashioned valued customer deal. Sometimes, I simply didn’t have to pay for my coffee. If I was having a spaz morning and went in to order coffee with an empty wallet, they’d tell me I didn’t need to pay.
They recognised my voice when ever I rang through for orders and the barista always knew what I wanted. It was a matter of rocking up, standing to the side, getting your coffee, paying and walking out. No words required. This is what I had with them. He even knew what my crew wanted after taking them there a couple of times.
And you know how sometimes when you order a skinny version of your regular coffee, it tastes gross? Not here! It still tasted great!
As the old adage goes however, all good things must come to an end. Painfully, so did this.
How shall I continue relaying this tragedy?
It all started with one bad coffee. It was like an aberration that offended not just my delicate sensibilities but even those more crude ones around me. While I was shocked, I persevered. Everyone deserves a second chance.
Then, a second bad coffee. Hm… Something going on that I need to know about?
Succumbing to peer pressure I went to another coffee place. Yes! Yes! I cheated! There! It’s out in the open! Are you happy now?! I went elsewhere! It’s not my fault! You can’t judge me!!!!!
The terrible thing was, this place was fun, it was hip. The coffee was always good! Even when it wasn’t great, it was still good. The waiting time was longer but we didn’t care at this stage. I was having 2 coffees in a day. I was lost! My extravagance took over and I got careless. I started frequenting the OTHER coffee shop (my second affair) right next to my original coffee shop and the barista would sometimes catch my eye and wave with a friendly smile.
Once when I broached the topic lightly with my guy my barista, he feigned ignorance. He told me there was nothing wrong with his coffee and that there had been no changes to the coffee he’s getting from the supplier. Everything was happening as it always did. But why then did I taste a difference in his coffee… *sigh*
I couldn’t bring myself to have another confrontation so I started sneaking around. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings or embarass him infront of his usual clientele. They were perhaps feeling the same way but just not saying anything about it. I didn’t want to be the cause of him losing all his clients, or worse, feeling inept. It’s come to a point now that I walk straight past his cafe and into the one right next to his. He sees me go in, he cranes his neck to make sure it’s me. On my way out, he waves with this hurt and still hopeful look in his eye. Today when I did decide to go to him, I was disappointed again! The coffee was sour!
SOUR! How does that even happen?!
I was shattered. I felt that the right thing to do would be to take it back and tell him that his coffee’s terrible. Any good barista wants to know this because they take pride in their work. But I couldn’t! I became gutless! I couldn’t confront him with the reality of his failing ability to satisfy my caffeine needs. He failed me and I failed him.
This saga hasn’t ended. I still need to go past his shop every day to the OTHER shop. When I go to the one behind his shop (so that it’s hidden from his view), he’ll know I’m going elsewhere. My addiction’s too strong. He will always know.
My big mouth commentary is stuck in my mouth. I cannot bring myself to spout it and hurt him. I’ve become a coward! I am ashamed.
I don’t know what to do.