We are getting ready to open a quality driven coffee shop in Peoria, IL.  It's going to be called thirty-thirty Coffee Co. (look us up on facebook) This is very new to the area (the closest thing is Intelli 3 hours north and Kaldi's three hours south).  We are working on our training manual and are including how to respond to potential customer requests.  (i.e. why small sizes, why don't you offer skim, why don't you have French Roast, etc.)  While we have pretty good answers I feel to most of our questions, we are wrestling with how to respond to the no dry cappuccino rule we have.  Our entire staff believes that the one and only size of a cap is 6 oz. and that it's only made one way.  Does anyone have any customer feedback on why people like their caps dry?  None of us have ever liked or wanted a "dry" cap and we're just trying to get inside the heads of our potential customers who aren't used to this kind of coffee shop.  How do we explain something like this to them without being rude or annoyed?   Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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Try explaining the ratios that make up a true cappa.  That way they can be educated.   Stay positive and don't talk town to them.

This question is really no different than the others. You are choosing not to offer this drink because you don't want to.


It isn't that a dry capp is wrong (much the same way that offering bigger sizes, skim milk, etc aren't wrong), it just isn't how you choose to present this drink.


If you approach it the same way as the rest of the questions, you should be fine.


However, if you approach any of these choices from a "because offering that would be incorrect or wrong" standpoint, you're doomed. That means I disagree with the advice to "educate them what a true capp is" approach, especially if you happen to subscribe to a definition that (while very popular) is baseless. This is a battle that you will lose a good portion of the time, and doesn't need to be fought in the first place.


Offer what you want to offer, because you want to offer it that way, and leave it at that.

Yeah.   Brady, I like your approach better.
A lot of people use the "we do it the traditional way" line, but that is kind of an easy and misleading way out.  Aside from the fact that "traditional" isn't really an exact standard and people debate it all the time, US specialty coffee doesn't really want to be stuck in that box anyway.  I think a better answer is just "we believe this is the best ratio of espresso to foam and milk, and the most enjoyable consistency" or something like that.  It's good to try to figure out why people order what they order, but a lot of times it's just that they haven't had a well-made version of the drink, or they've just heard other people order it that way and so they know it's safe.  So you have to pretty tactful about it, because what you're basically saying is, "the way you've been ordering the drink, which you thought was safe is actually wrong and you've been living in coffee ignorance all this time"  which can be upsetting to people with more fragile egos, and I think is what usually sets off the rude customer vs. snobby barista dynamic.  It's also possible that some people just really like the feeling of bone dry milk foam floating on top of espresso.  These people can't be reasoned with and you'll just have to give in and make it that way, or sound like a jerk and refuse.  Maybe comp them a drink your way and see if they change their mind...similar to the "extra-super-lava-hot burned latte" request.  No accounting for taste I guess.

To answer the other half of the question... I seem to recall reading that dry capps are the preferred preparation in Germany (or was it Switzerland?). I am not German, so cannot verify... but I believe that came from one of the old Barry vs Chris debates on the subject (I think it was the famous "pizza" thread...). Chris, are you around and/or do you recall? Anyone from Germany or Switzerland speak to this?


How's that for a dubious source of info?

Thanks for the responses.  We don't in anyway want to come across snobby or rude.  The fact of the matter is there are plenty of places around that will whip them up a dry cap.  We want to offer something different.  Is it ok to refuse?  Or do we just not say anything and make it the way we always make it and maybe they won't say anything?  It's a difficult battle.  Hopefully the uniqueness will set us apart enough where people won't ask too many questions they'll just try out what we are offering....but I know it won't be that easy.  We are trying to be prepared and trying to figure out how to educate and offer drinks we feel are the best without compromising our integrity.  I have a feeling it's going to be a difficult journey but we really don't know until we get going I suppose.



Speaking purely as a coffee consumer, I usually ask for a dry capp to ward off the bucket of milk that gets served up Starbucks, Costa Coffee or Cafe Nero here in the U.K.  I like to taste the coffee in my capp, and asking for it dry [sometimes] ensures that I will.

Since the coffee scene in London is improving steadily, I have to do this less and less. I would suggest that you explain that you do not overdo the milk in your capps when you serve them, and encourage them to try it.

I have a hard time telling people "no," when it's a matter of taste and not quality. Admittedly, your preference against a dry capp is a matter of taste — if the espresso is good and the milk is good, there's no reason a dry capp can't be "good," for what it is. 


But what I do (and encourage my baristas to do) is to steer people gently toward the drinks we prefer. For instance: When someone comes in and orders a "caramel macchiatto" (this happens pretty much daily), we explain that we offer a similar drink called a caramel mocha. We neglect to inform them that it's way less sweet and tastes like, well, caramel and not vanilla. By second or third visit, they are ordering it by the name we call it and they don't seem to notice or care that it's not the drink they were originally picturing — because ours is BETTER. Make great stuff and most people won't care if it's even exactly what they ordered. (Or in many cases, they don't know what they're ordering anyway: they want to SEEM like they know, so they use terminology they've heard before.) If you've ever had a Starbucks latte, you may see a good reason someone would use the term "dry capp" — most people who order cappuccinos here are steered toward lattes, and 95% end up ordering lattes from then on out. 


But for the 5% who really want a "dry capp," I see no reason not to make it if they insist. If it's a matter of taste, get over it; if it's a matter of costs (takes more milk and more time), then simply charge appropriately. 

You'd be lucky to even get 5%...we dont even offer it, talk about or present it UNLESS the customer absolutely wants it.....I'm not for it, but I'm also not in business to turn away customers. Serve it if asked.....but, just make capps the way its supposed to be done and I assure you most customers wont mind, considering they've been drinking crap all the way up until they visited you. I give you this advice as a business owner, who opened up across the street from the 3rd highest revenue producing starbucks in the US. We have converted many in just 6 months...and continue to teach and educated daily!! Best wishes......BTW you have one of the nicest golf courses I've ever played out there......


Good thoughts, all.

I personally think you should offer it.  You say you are a quality-driven shop, and when people expect quality they also expect to be able to customize their experience.  Your idealism is admirable but honestly, I don't know if it can cut it commercially, and as a customer I would be deeply disappointed if my request for something easy was rejected just because the barista or shop didn't want to do it.


PS: I wish you all the best but I don't know if there's really a market for a real coffeeshop in Peoria.

So far in the shops that I have worked at I have observed that many dry capp customers only get it dry so that when they add A LOT of sugar the foam will decrease and they are left with a few sips of essentially an 8oz latte.  This is what I have observed but again, some could be searching for another flavor.  


I use to work in St. Charles, IL... about an hour North of Chicago and dry capps were ordered on a regular basis.

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