My wife and I took a short trip to Paris not long ago, and spent the better part of a day hitting up some of the coffee shops some friends and family recommended.

 

After sipping my way through 5 cappuccinos, we hit up this place called La Cafeotheque of Paris. They had dozens of estate SO coffees from around the world. I asked for a drip coffee and a cappuccino. The owner explained to me that they do not serve drip coffee, only Americanos.

 

That got me thinking. Why not just serve Americanos? Has anyone given serious thought to or attempted to tackle this while explaining to difference to customers?

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Brady - Do you recommend doing anything to alter the espresso, or is it the same shot you'd prepare for every other espresso-based drink?

Mike,


All good questions. We've been around 6 years (knock on wood) and think we've finally figured out the dayparts in a way that makes sense to pursue both a pretty good quality model for those who want that as well as a quick in-and-out that's necessary given our location and cost of doing business.

 

To give you perspective, we're in the middle of a five block "downtown" in an inner suburb of about 35,000, relatively affluent.  Parallel meter parking.  A few offices nearby.  Most weekday business is foot traffic from within those 5 blocks.  On weekends, we draw from a larger base.

 

It's rare that a weekday morning customer asks for anything other than batch drip.  When we used to offer three coffees via batch, we'd have a few who asked what we'd recommend, but 90% of the time it was "whatever is ready" or "whatever is darkest".  We had a low success rate of trying to push coffees we really liked over the "safe" blend we offered.  After tossing away gallons upon gallons of great single origin coffee, over time we cut back to two batch brews, then just the one, which is now a post-blend of three very good seasonal coffees at three different roast levels and has something for most everyone. 

 

We brew that blend all day long, so someone who visits both morning and afternoon can still get the drip.  There are a handful that opt for Americanos, and they'll do those both in the morning and afternoon.

 

It's not until the afternoon that we start seeing people ordering press pots and Clevers. And we do a lot of hand brews and a ton of traditional (small) espresso drinks on weekends.  We staff accordingly.

 

It's not the kind of coffeehouse that really excites any of us at this point, but in order to do only hand brews and a traditional espresso menu, we'd have to cut the space (and rent) in half and do an extensive remodel of the service area. We have one of the biggest shops in terms of sq ft (1600) and seats (40) of any coffeehouse in the region.

 

I don't recall exactly what drugs we were on when we thought that was a good idea back in 2004.

 

Hope that answers your questions.

 

Mike M said:

Rich, you said you have airpots available in the morning then only americanos in the afternoons?

 

If that's the case, do you ever get customers who come in in the morning looking for drip, french press, etc. and then come in in the afternoon looking for the sake offering and refuse the americano? Taking the example a step further, do you get customers who try the americano for the first time and then continue purchasing americanos all the time (instead of drip)?

Thank you for the detailed response Rich! That's really interesting to hear about the evolution of your offerings and figuring out what works when and who you're serving.

 

What city is your shop located in?

Mt. Lebanon, 6 miles south of Pittsburgh.

Mike,

 

Although many shops often pull water for Americano directly off the boiler, it isn't always recommended. Too hot, and if you don't cycle through it regularly, it's sometimes not as "fresh" as other sources.

Machines such as Synesso provide a cold water mix and allow you to adjust the temp of the water, or many places use hot water tower or hot water dispensing pot (Zojirushi for example) to have an always clean supply with an adjustable temp.  

 

Of course you have to start with great espresso, but pulling it into 205F water is not the way to keep it that way. Taste Americanos made with water from different sources and temps, and find what consistently yields the best flavor for you. 

I only serve Americanos in my shop.  When I first opened in November I brewed at least three drip coffees per day and ended up dumping most of it because my customer base wasn't big enough to serve so much coffee and most wanted a latte anyway.  Believing that the Americano is a superior cup of coffee in general, I quit brewing the drip and went exclusively to the Americano, which has been a big hit with my customers who come in wanting "Just regular black coffee".  I have found that serving Americanos is more efficient and keeps my cost down because I'm buying primarily espresso instead of a wide variety of drip coffees.  I'm glad to see someone else has figured this out.

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