lördag 19 juli 2008

Oh, please behave yourself!

An independent espresso bar or café is usually built on some kind of love for something. For lots it's the idea of the social thing that a coffee bar is offering. For others like me it is about the coffee. Very few is getting rich in this game, but most of us are finding satisfaction. My love is watching a great coffee extract, trying to get the most out of it. Hundreds of people on farms, processing mills, roasters, etc. has put their heart into making something great. So my job is a responsability towards them, to present their work in the best possible way and teach the public of their legacy. This is for me the main thing with working with speciality coffee and not commodity coffee. It is finally my judgement that decides what ways I will serve a coffee i.e. what I will sell to my guests.

The costumer is always right... We've all heard that phrase, and thank god it is not as wide-spread in our way of acting as costumers here in Sweden as in USA. As we try to change behavioural patterns to get people to understand what is in their cup we will get into weird situations. This mainly linked to the fact that some of our guests can't see a mission behind the stuff served. They simply see us as servants paid by them, not as guides on an interesting journey.

Last few days have been interesting in this sense as the blog-world has exploded about a short event at Nick Cho's place Murky's(I will tie this bag up later as the discussion following it has some points that I find interesting related the lists below).

How to act in an espresso bar:

1. Before walking up to the bar, take time to check out the menu (it is usually at the wall facing you if you are looking at the bar).

2. Make a deciscion about what you want or if you are not sure, decide what you're gonna ask us about.

3. If there is a line, take your place in the back of it and use the time to decide what to get. The line is full of fellow guests that are as much worth to the bar as you.

4. Be respectful towards the chap/bird at the bar, it is a human being that deserves respect. And by being respectful, you will probably get a better response and a way better interaction.

5. If you ask a question, listen to the full answer, not just the first two words.

6. When you order, please go with stuff that is on the menu. If the menu has no mention of flavoured-vanilla-mocca-latte, most likely it is not served...

7. If you are having mutliple drinks or company, order all at once and please don't change the order. So make sure that you are sure what to get before starting to actually order.

8. If you want suggestions about what to drink, give some preferences, do you like smooth, fruity stuff or bitter, smoky with strenght?!

9. When you recieve your fix, leave from for the next one in the line.

10. If you get something you really enjoy, please let us know!

You don't need a masters degree in social science to understand this stuff. It is just about remembering that you are in a social situation with another human at the same level as you and you are a guest in his/her bar.

How not to act in an espresso bar:

1. Don't skip the line.

2. Don't distract yourself with other stuff than ordering when you reach the bar.

3. Don't interupt the barista while working with another guest's drinks. He/she should have 100 percent focus on the beverages in the making.

4. Don't act rude because the bar doesn't serve stuff the way you are used to, ask for suggestions instead. (You don't get angry at Burger King for not serving Pizza or at a Mercedez dealer for not selling BMWs...)

5. Don't scream stop while the barista is pouring milk or extracting a shot. (If you want it in a custom way, tell us while ordering)

6. Don't stop listening to an answer after two words.

7. Don't tap rhythms on the bar while waiting. (This is seriously the most annoying thing I know while working in the bar).

8. Don't wave your money until we ask you to pay. (We are not striptease dancers, having money in your hand is okay, just don't wave them or push them on us before we ask you for it).

9. Never serve yourself anything from the inside of the bar. (Not a glass, nothing, if it's behind the bar, ask us for it).

10. Don't leave the place in a mess, you are a guest for crying out loud.

It may sound harsh to some, but it really isn't. The same rules applying in any other social situation are valid in a café, coffee shop or an espresso bar. Which leads the line of thought back to Nick in DC (the blog-post that started it, Nick's less than PR-perfect responce). Over at coffeed I found the most interesting response so far to the situation. Hopefully we can get a good discussion out of it and learn how to become better at separating ourselves from the commodity market. I won't make this one any longer, I just wanted to make a short statement today and feel free to post add-ons to the list in your comments.

BTW, the image above has nothing to do with the text. I just like it. The first drops of a Pacamara single SPRO from Costa Rica.



Update 1: More storms in the tea cup... Nick is on a roll!

Update 2: Spreading over to UK and the Guardian, with Sarah Allen as writer... For us who know the history of the WBC-board this is serious entertainment!!!!

Update 3: As most readers are Swedish on this blog, here's a few people discussing it based on how the culture is shaped in Sweden. Mr. Levak, his opinions are pretty close to mine at this time. Poyan, interesting spin off on the list too. Riktigt kaffe, discussions that I'd like to see Christoffer Levak getting into as he seems a bit more interesting vision of what a barista working with specialty coffee in the future should be.

6 kommentarer:

Oscar sa...

I have some understanding of celebrity 3star michelin chefs (think Gordon Ramsey) being arses, complaining about customer behaviour, but a small-town barista preparing lists of dos and donts to the customers?

Pleeeeaaaase! :-)

You will soon see me and the rest of Stockholm coffelovers tapping our rhythms on a "high-profile espresso bar" near you!

Laboratorio sa...
Den här kommentaren har tagits bort av skribenten.
Laboratorio sa...

I gave a bit of a harsh response early this morning, but decided to delete it.

1. I didn't post these rules in the bar, so I didn't post it directly to my costumers. I don't tell anywhere on this blog where I am doing my day-job...
2. This blog is a way for me to open my mind about different kind of stuff, this post was about getting my mind together and for people to start thinking about how they are acting and perceiving situations.
3. I believe your image of the world around you it severely bizarre as you differentiate people in acceptance of behaviours depending on their reputation. Human - human interaction would be so much better if respect was the key whether its the ticket-man at the subway or your investors.

Gott snack!

Oscar sa...

Deleting harch responses? If PR is what you want, you should not delete the good stuff! :-)

As the world is severely bizarre, of course my image of it is bizarre, but seriously: I am of course accepting/expecting different things from different people:

If Gordon Ramsey, with over 20 years of experience, tells me to eat a confit of shit I will probably do it.

If you tell me to drink a double shot of shit I would probaly just tap a couple of rhythms on your bar and then leave.

Laboratorio sa...

I felt the response didn't come out the way I wanted to. So I decided to rephrase myself. One of the things with writing a blog... Just look at James Hoffman pulling the Rod Lazar post because he realized that even though it is funny it'll bite him in the leg in the long run...

I believe in that the world becomes how we make it. And about the eating shit... I rest my case!

Oscar sa...