I really wish I could find this stuff for times when I need to reference it. It exists. (waits for JavaJ to come in with a link to said law)
The bottom line is this: There is a line. Exactly where it is is different for every shop. You may feel others cross it. You may feel you do not, or choose not to see the line. It is there. Whether or not being on one side of that line will work for your particular market is another story.
This line comes up in a lot of ways. One way is "what sizes do I offer?" but this question is really "what do I stand for?" For the small specialty coffee shop, there are a lot of product choices to make. But if you know who you are and what your values are, and how they fit into your local market (or better yet, where is a local market that your beliefs fit into?) then you really don't have any choices, do you?
When I read blogs like this I get very frustrated. We in the coffee community (and to be fair... in general) make too many issues center on morality. 20oz. vs. 8oz. is not a moral delima. There is nothing "right or wrong" about the ammount of milk in a cup of coffee. The real issue here is how we approach coffee. Some of us approach coffee from the side of, "This is a great business opportunity."
Just like the farmer, there is a choice in how we foster our business. Most farmers have land that is located where it is (as of now) impossible to grow an "esmarelda". Whereas there are a lucky few who have prime location. For the unlucky ones, they have a choice to either grow coffee to the highest quality that they are able, or lower the quality standards for quantity. These lower quality coffees have to be bought and sold as well. This is just as important to keep the farming community afloat as buying Beloya. So, where is all of the specialty coffee that is not earth shattering going to end up? A larger drink with lower quality espresso in it may actually taste better than a smaller drink with that same shot. I know that amongst you who are quality driven, this is a hard pill to swallow. I know that you are thinking, "Then buy higher quality espresso!!!" I'm with you on that, but the reality is that a lot of shops simply cannot afford it. With that I hear you follow with, "No, they can't afford not to." Be that as it may, none of us have seen their books.
Another kind of shop is the shop that sees coffee as a canvas. Upon this canvas they love to paint all sort of sweet treats. Coffee to them is a great facilitator for mochas, van. lattes, and all sort of much more complex beverages. The botique owner has an audience and a place in this market just like the Cadbury Egg does in the candy market. When mucnhing on M&Ms we are not analizing the complexity of the cocoa. We are simply throwing back some sugared goodness.
Others of us look at coffee from another point of view. We see coffee as the end, not the mean. We see what is in the cup as art. We find divinity and beauty herself in the lovely nuances that each sip brings us. We tumble head over heals into each press, pour and shot with anticipation and excitement. Our buzz is not found in the chemicals coffee holds, but in the complexity. It is what we wake to and dream of. We are in love. We want to recipricate our love by means of upholding the integrity of each and every flavor profile. Milk is hard enough for most of us to put into the cup. If we do put it in, it's the best milk, steamed with expert pride and infused with the skill of an artist. We cringe at the thought of syrup defiling the beauty of the coffee, masking its lovely subtelties. I know I am getting out of hand with my romantic language. i know it sounds cheesy, but i am just being open and honest here. We are in love with coffee. Being so passionate comes with a cost. It hurts us to see coffee treated in any other way. It is painful to walk into a shop and hear the milk screaming. It hurts us to see people who are using coffee to facilitate life and not using their lives to facilitate the coffee. But, that is how it is. We cannot get judgmental and negative about it. We cannot become evagelists behind our Synesso pulpits and scream about the evils of the rasberry mocha that wants to sneak into our coffee loving souls. We just need to get along. Discussing the pros and cons of something is necisary and beneficial. But, discussing the "Thou Shalt Nots" is getting a bit too caught up in the moment. We are all just people. We are all just trying to enjoy life. For me, espresso, french presses and an clarified cup from a vac pot do the trick on most days. But they don't offer the fulfillment that my family does, or a good conversation offers. Quality is temporary and subjective.
20oz or 8oz? Does it make them smile? Does it bring them back? Does it come with a compliment and/or a conversation? Does it keep the lights on? Does it lead to something better? Is it the best you can do? Do you feel proud serving it? Does it advance coffee where you are? If you can answer yes to these and many more questions, then do that!
I could go on for ever about this, (too late, right?) but i'll let you all discuss further. Send me a message if you would like more of my thoughts on this (and any other) issue.
"However, I do not agree that places that serve these things should be gathered together under the umbrella of "Specialty Coffee Retailers" with the rest of us.
Call it something else, but for the love of all things holy, do NOT call it specialty coffee.
If they call it what it is, fine. I've got no problems with that. But selling it as something it is not, even through subtle communication rather than saying it outright, IS, in fact, a moral issue."
These coffee houses are serving coffee that is classified as specialty grade coffee. Therefore, they are specialty coffee houses serving specialty coffee.