This week I heard there were some people talking about adding a 20oz option at local shop I have done some work for... I think it's a bad idea. For a number of reasons but i thought I'd ask you guys what you thought about it....

Why not use 20oz?

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Jason Haeger said:
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)

LOL. Okay well, to be honest I was a little late to the party because I'm a little sick of this question. Here are a few links:

http://itn.co.uk/news/48e3e87cef729e5e5297de1f9f712b45.html

Istituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano
(National Institute of Italian Espresso)
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?
20 oz. of milk is a bit much I always thought, but in the shop where I worked for 4 yrs it was an option and many people took advantage of that 20 oz latte or mocha. The owner was always trying to rationalize having the 20 oz option, but it all came down to the fact that she had it for over 10 yrs.
I took it to another level. To try and minimize the amount of milk in the drink I kept adding shots until I created the OCTAGON : 8 shot mocha with whip cream. If you are going to take it to the realm of 20 oz beverages then let's take it there for real!
This is EXACTLY the question we asked ourselves when we decided to make all the changes. We began our learning process since the last Coffeefest in Seattle. Then we realized EVERYTHING we had been doing wrong, coffeewise, and operationwise. We got rid of our smoothies and half our menu. we are located on the first floor of an office building, and are surrounded by office buildings and office people that don't know better than starbucks/coffee bean coffee and the availability of the 20 oz. And as scary as it was, we cut our 20 oz cups bec we realized we wanted to stand for something -- to not make the brown water we used to make, to stand out and NOT COMPETE with starbucks/coffee bean, in that we offer a cup of coffee u can actually TASTE. :p

The Barista Formerly Known As JavaJ said:
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.

Cheers!!
While I will agree that there is a market for such things, and there is also a place.

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.

You can talk all day about it, and so can I, but that's not going to change much of anything unless the reader actually WANTS to focus on coffee.

I agree with idea that there is no "bad coffee".. just coffee of varying grades for varying markets.

The problems arise when those markets and grades are mixed, confused, and done so intentionally.

Joe Marrocco said:
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.

Cheers!!
"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. Maybe instead of not calling that specialty coffee, those of us who are serving incredibly high grade coffee should change OUR coffee's label. They are not mis-labeling their coffee. The specialty coffee umbrella is large. It covers the quality of the coffee BEFORE it is roasted. So, what happens in the cup is up the to the shop owner. I would agree that mislabeling is a moral issue. If they were saying it was FTO coffee and it was not, or COE and it was not, there would be a problem that would need more than a forum on Barista Exchange to fix it. But, we are merely talking about 20oz. drinks here. By a drink being 20oz it is not disqualified from being "specialty". You can get more info about this from the SCAA.

My whole point is this: By being confrontational about what kind of drinks another shop is selling, we are not going to convince them to change. By being friendly and supportive, while building a relationship, we may be able to enter into conversation with them. From an open conversation (over hopefully some high grade traditional coffee bevs) we'll maybe help a few to see the light. Plus, with the way the milk market is about to crash, I think a lot more shops are going to be eliminating 20oz+ drinks anyway.

Spro and Happiness!!
Unless you have actually seen the green, that's quite difficult to verify.

How many coffees are available with zero primary defects, and no more than 2 secondary defects?

Not very many at all, I'm afraid.

That having been said, you're right, maybe we should call the upper echelon something else.

What's it going to be? Premium coffee? no, that has its own grading category. Gourmet coffee? No, I think this is what the group you are mentioning ought to adopt instead. I don't know, but we're doing a terrible job of distinguishing between these lines, and it doesn't help that some markets are not ready for one of them.
Joe Marrocco said:
"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.
I agree. By the way, I do see the green all day every day. We do have to remember though that there is a definite destinction between the Stumptown's of the world and the chocolate milk houses of the world. You see it as soon as you walk in the door. You smell it, feel it and get caught up in it. There is an instant feeling of excellence and knowledge that the approach to coffee is one of awe and knowledge. But, most of our country cannot support a shop like this. Most of America thinks that anything above folgers is outrageously priced and unaproachable. It's not the coffee that is intimidating, it's the coffee people. New people don't want to feel dumb or out of place. If they do, they'll leave and not come back. If you have only had gas station coffee and you walk into Stumptown, you are going to be very confused. Luckily, Stumptown offers outstanding customer service which will quickly ease the customer's mind. I'm sure you do as well. But, there is still a social pressure involved. That pressure is not felt by the individual customer alone though, but also by new people to the industry. So many shops open whose owners know very little about the depth of the industry. When they begin to get connected they are met by industry professionals who are very condescending and opinionated. (I am not directing this at you personally. I am directing this at the attitude that some of us can give off of "us vs. them.") I am merely saying that, like that Stumptown barista who greets the new customer with a warm smile, attentive care, and a vast ammount of knowledge tempered with patients and grace. This is how we coffee professionals need to aproach new people to the industry and each other. If you have an idea, or point of view and come to me with it by saying that the way I see things is morally wrong, I am instantly going to get defensive and maybe even offended. We have to build relationships with one another,... even trust. Then, once we have established a communication line we can exchange ideas in a healthy way. I aprecaite you continuing this conversation with me. I hope you can see my point of view. I do not feel that you are telling me that I am morally wrong about anything. I just think that you and I have a different idea of what being part of this coffee community means. It seems as though you feel you are the stage coach driver who is telling the horses where to go. I think I am just one of the horses pulling it along. The thing is, we're all in this together. We have to work together as equals, even if the coffee one person is serving may not meet the quality standards of another. Quality is very subjective, as I've said before. Man,... I hate discussions on line. I seriously wish we could talk eye to eye over some coffee. If you are ever in St. Louis, swing by our roaster. We'll cup, talk, pull some shots and talk some more.

Joe
I completely agree about the morality, or lack thereof, of this discussion, Joe.

I definitely prefer to serve drinks in smaller quantities. I cringe when someone orders a large drink (I cringe when they order decaf, or skim, or syrups... I do a lot of cringing at work). But it's a method. You bring a customer in, you give them what they want. They keep coming, you develop a relationship, and within short time they trust you to recommend and serve them a variety of other things. You can show them how much better a cup of coffee is when it's smaller. How much more heavenly a latte is when it comes in a 10 ounce cup, than a 16 or 20. It's about taking baby steps. Having a holier-than-thou attitude is what puts people off of something, in any industry.

At my shop, whenever someone orders a large coffee (that isn't to go), we generally offer them a small mug and a free refill, instead of the porcelain bucket it would otherwise come in - and a LOT of folks go for that. I think we're going to start encouraging a different ordering method for other large drinks, aside from coffee - the price point on a latte is much different, so it doesn't work, but I'm sure we could urge customers to take a small latte and a discounted refill.

It's also important to know your local coffee culture. Where I'm at, drinking coffee isn't quite a cuisine yet. People just want their caffeine fix, but the culture is growing and expanding, slowly but surely. We can't survive off of the fine-drinkers, but we can keep working to convert more people into real coffee tasters.

People who serve drinks in 20 ounce cups aren't "bad people", for heaven's sake.

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