What are you: espresso bar or coffee shop?

I run an espresso bar.  No drip.  No single serve pour-over.  We do serve S.O. french press that we brew up as needed in 1.5 litre pots.  This position is not to dis pour-over styles or say they're wrong rather it's to say that our shop serves espresso first and foremost.

Convince me that I'm wrong.  Convince me that espresso bars should deviate from their core (the core that has paid the bills for the past however-many-years) and delve into something new and time-consuming...And potentially more expensive with new hot water towers set to temperatures different than our Americanos and FP.

For dialing in roasts we do use Chemex and Clever and Melitta-style and a few other processes so we understand their merits but for the service counter it's espresso-based or FP. 

Seriously, why would I want to delve into a new filed when the old one ain't broke?

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Comment by Stickman on May 12, 2011 at 8:51am

You're right Jason but you're just talking about communication.  

As long as there is a dialogue between barista and consumer and a similar discussion with Barista and Roaster then all will be well.  The baristas in our shop are professionals and the local community recognizes that.  The reason we dial in roast profiles with different methods of brewing is for the baristas to gain understanding of how their customers will prepare it at home.

Although some of our customers have home espresso machines at a pretty high level there might be only one or two using a true commercial-grade machine so an understanding of other brew methods (and a cultivation of favourites) is imperative...But I don't see much to gain in the movement in serving pour-overs.  Whatever happened to inviting customers to cuppings?  The only difference is that now we're charging them $2-$6 per cup!

Hmm.  I might have just convinced myself!

Comment by Jason Haeger on May 12, 2011 at 8:43am

I'm a roaster, consultant, and trainer.  I don't have a shop.  


The most important thing to consider for most retailers, I feel, is to match the concept to its intended market/space/neighborhood.  Some places do better keeping it basic (like you), and I've seen others have to offer a bit more to match the attitude of their market.  


As a roaster, though, I think that if I had a space, I would offer a wide variety of brew methods to showcase the individual coffees.  I still like espresso, but I don't hold it on quite the pedestal that I used to.  


I think that part of our job as ambassadors of this Specialty Coffee movement is to increase awareness of how special our coffees really are.  While espresso is sort of a gateway to get people to recognize quality, I feel like it is too "mysterious" to the average consumer to be able to get them to consider the seed-to-cup quality and social chain, and to understand that the fact that we have great coffee at all is something of a miracle.  


I think that cup-at-a-time brew methods improves the interaction with a customer and affecting their perception of the specific coffee that is being brewed just for them.  Is it a better cup?  I don't think so.  Does it help to bring customers into our world and to get on board the specialty train?  I hope so.. it seems that's the intent, anyway. 


Of course, not every shop is in a market in need of such education, and it's better that the coffee is enjoyed than that we succeed in cramming our values down our customers' throats.  I think everyone gets away with as much as they can while doing their best to stay focused.  

Everything is always a balancing act.

Comment by Stickman on May 12, 2011 at 8:27am

Fair enough.

What do you do at your place, Jason?

Comment by Jason Haeger on May 12, 2011 at 8:23am

Because everyone is always trying to stand out.  I guess it's not enough to serve amazing coffee.  


I neither agree nor disagree with your premise.  It's just a thought.

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