Service choices signal your confidence level in the quality of what you do.

John P

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Jan 5, 2007
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Salt Lake City
This post is primarily for other coffee shop owners or managers with decision making authority. It's strictly regarding coffee that is craft-brewed by hand.

When you go into a coffee shop, and they tell you about their house roasted, single-origin coffee that they brew for you by hand... And they ask "Is that to stay or to go?" And while talking, they hold up a ceramic/china cup and a paper cup -- What would you choose? And should it even be a choice?

Psychologically, what goes through your mind when those are the two options? This simple, but profound choice -- by the owner, not by the customer -- is very telling.

Let me squash any complete nonsense about "convenience" right off the bat. Craft-brewed coffee by the hand is not about convenience. It's about a certain standard of quality and service.

So for those who have "to go" as an option for coffees that are craft-brewed by hand, this is what is being projected: The ceramic/china is an invitation. It says, "Come join me, I will make you something beautiful" And as the barista, you know that at some point you have to look them in the eye as they taste the coffee you just made. This shows an absolute confidence in what you are doing, because every sip can be a "Thank you!" or it can be a "F*<# you!" ... but as the barista/owner/roaster etc., you know, you know, or you wouldn't do it.

Now, conversely, with the same craft-brewed coffee, the "to go" cup is a rejection. It says, "Thanks! I have your money. Now go so you don't notice how average this coffee is until you are outside my door." It shows a lack of confidence in your ability as a roaster, barista, etc. Because if you knew you could only serve it in-house in ceramic/china, you would.

When you treat (what should be) an expression of your product's quality as a product of convenience, it's reveals everything. The manner with which you treat your highest quality offering, be it a shot of espresso or craft-brewed coffee by hand, says everything about how you think about your quality and the respect it deserves.

If you improve the quality of what you offer, then you will improve your level of service as well - because at some point, your coffee/espresso deserves it.
 
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John P

John P

New member
Jan 5, 2007
1,045
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Salt Lake City
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ensoluna,

A few questions:

If you go to a restaurant locally, do they serve on paper plates or ceramic/pottery?
If you go to a bar, do they serve in paper cups or glass?

Do people there drink coffee at home? If yes, then would they prepare their coffee in a paper cup or a ceramic cup of some sort?

These are the first questions to pose to yourself when you are thinking about what if you want to consider raising your service standards.

I understand the reality of different countries, but I also know that if you continue to treat coffee as a product of convenience, then the customer will see it as only that. While I personally believe all by the cup should be in-house only, I also wouldn't do multiple brewing methods, I would pick one and master it. If you enjoy doing multiple brew methods, it's still a solid choice if it works for you. I understand the realities of other environments so perhaps you can pick one method to highlight... like Chemex (as an example) and have that be your premier brewing method. Anything brewed with that method you would then charge a little more for and serve in ceramic only. You have to start somewhere.

It's up to the shop owners to take the lead and meet basic service standards for coffee that have existed in the food and beverage industries for years. The customer will follow your lead, and they will be happy about it.
 
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