Why are we focused so much on "what customers think they want"? It seems to me that there are two types of restaurants: Those that serve customers whatever they want and therefore do everything but not much well. They tend to be very financially successful. They tend to appeal to the great horded masses. They also tend to eventually turn into either theme park/restaurants or dennys.
Then there are the restaurants that serve customers what they do best. they tend to also be very financially successful and they tend to do what they do very well and do NOT try to do everything.
There is room for both.
As for me and my coffee family we are trying our darnedest to serve the coffee. Give the customer what you do best NOT what they want. It is my belief along with Harryman that once someone tries a fantastic true Capuccino or other small well made espresso drink they will be hooked and will not tend to go back to the large milk adulterated drinks. Nothing wrong with them per se. But let's face it the reason MOST people,if not all, get a 20 oz vanilla latte with very litle espresso is because MOST ESPRESSO AT MOST CAFES SUCKS ASS!. It is usually a nasty bitter muck whole.
So I believe that we do a disservice to customers by "giving them what they want" when that "want" is based on other companies terribly made and over roasted espresso.
for the record I have been to Coffee Klatch several times and every drink I have had has been fantastic. Heather has made us drinks as well as others and they have been very good. And Coffee Klatches coffee roasts are mind blowingly awesome. Thanks Mike and Heather for kicking ass in a difficult location and still serving up the good stuff.
My question is: if Coffee Klatch makes two kinds of capps available to its customers, why aren't they both on the menu? (Or are they? I haven't been there in almost a year and can't remember...)
I think there is some underestimating the consumer going on here (in this discussion thread). I think that people do actually have good taste and they will often choose the higher quality product when it is placed before them and when they have a choice and a chance to get to know it. But what they won't do is ask for it when it's not presented to them first. (except for a few nuts, many of whom have probably already posted on this thread.)
So I don't totally agree with the suggestion that a shop making the "traditional" small precious capp w/ silky microfoam couldn't succeed in a place like San Dimas. People who live in San Dimas aren't barbarians; they like things that taste good just as much as people on Montana Avenue do. But they might have less awareness of the existence of the traditional cappuccino, and therefore they don't ask for it.
As a counterpoint, look at a place like Pacific Bay in Walnut Creek, CA - a very similar community to San Dimas. They serve a traditional capp, and I don't see them hurting for it. Same could be said of Barefoot, for that matter. They're in a strip mall next to a bunch of car dealerships. And yet they manage to serve a traditional capp without finding themselves in bankruptcy court. You don't have to live somewhere sophisticated in order to appreciate something that tastes good. You just have to know of its existence.
So why not put a "competition capp" on the menu at Klatch? At a minimum, it'd start conversations.
And the fact that it looks like some sort of imagination went into it is usually the sign. First, if there is milk crusted on the steam wand, it doesn't look third wave. If there are super-autos pulling the shots, it doesn't look third wave. If there are grounds hip-deep in the hoppers jut waiting for a customer to come in the door, it doesn't look third wave. If the shots pull in less than twenty seconds, it doesn't look third wave. IF the foam on your capp is stiff enough to stand a fork in it, it doesn't look third wave. If there is a glass carafe of coffee concentrating on a Bunn burner somewhere behind the counter, it doesn't look third wave. IF teh coffee comes out of a can.... I think you're getting the idea. OTOH: <Redneck Comic Voice> If the Baristi are using the 'Chop', or 'Stockfleth's' or some other Q&D type of distribution/levelling technique, you might be at a third wave coffee shop. If there is art on your milk drink, you might be at a third wave coffee shop. If the barista actually watches the shots as they run, you might be at a third wave coffee shop. If the barista holds the pitcher as the milk foams, you might be at a third wave coffee shop.
Serious Kudos to Heather for backing up her shop with her personal cell phone number. I'm not sure that there are two more people on this forum that would back up their opinion to all comers on their personal phone. Nice! Hope to see you in Phoenix in October, Heather! Cheers!
OTOH, I've been a proponent of getting some sort of standard in the industry on more than on coffee based forum, and it's all the conversations like these that keep re-iterating the need for some sort of standardisation in this country, in this industry. There are a whole raft of pros (from James Hoffman on down) that have put their two cents into such conversations, and the jist seems to be that a cappuccino is nothing more than a shot of espresso in frothed milk, and ratios, methods, and construction aren't really part of the definition. I'm just a guy that just wants to know what you want me to say when I get to the counter.
Oh, and Amy? I'll take a shot at the "Perfect Cappuccino" if you're ever in Tucson. Might as well, right?
Just because I said my customers like larger drinks, I never even came close to saying that they were "Barbarians", or not sophisticated enough to enjoy a traditional capp. You can appreciate good coffee and milk even in a 16oz capp, you don't have to like 5oz drinks to appreciate good coffee.
We have plenty of customers who do order traditional capps and enjoy single espressos and appreciate great latte art, but our menus were done 10 years ago and in order to add one drink I have to get an entire new menu which is a huge expense that I do not see as necessary at this exact moment. It is also the exact reason I don't recommend getting Chalk Talk menus done, because you can't change them. We are considering redesigning the store and if we did that is something we would absolutely be considering, but it doesn't make business sense right now. And again, if you just ask, we absolutely serve a traditional capp and will try our best to serve it with a heart.
As far as Andy's post goes, we just disagree and have different points, and have had many face to face conversations about it on numerous occasions. Each person should be able to to run their business how they see fit. Our goal is to find the best coffee we can and do the best job we can with it to satisfy each customers needs. I hope that each and every customer who visits my stores find that we did that, and if we don't, please tell us. Every time we make a mistake we want to know about it so we can improve and continue to evolve and get better.
Thanks again for the feedback and as always feel free to call. 951-318-6947
I'm sorry, but I just have to put my two cents in. I feel that it is unfair to go to a shop and not inform them of what you are looking for. How can they properly serve you if they don't know? I found out about Coffee Klatch on these forums - I hadn't heard about it locally, nor had I heard of Intelligentsia, Cafe Luxxe, or any of the other "3rd Wave" coffee shops. Because of this forum, I have been to all of them, and have gotten good drinks at all of the establishments. When I walk in the door, the first thing I tell the baristas is that I found out about their establishment on CoffeeGeek or HB. I explain that I am a newbie and I am there to learn what good espresso tastes like, and how to properly make it at home. I have found that the baristas have *always* been more than willing to help me.
When I go to Coffee Klatch, I am never served an oversized drink, because the baristas know what I am there for. Coffee Klatch is in a small strip mall near a freeway! They are not exactly high profile! If they didn't serve their local customers needs they would be gone overnight! When I went in on Tuesday morning to meet Heather, the place was *packed* with locals, and I was the only one there who came to see Heather! I think they are doing something right! Word of mouth must work well for them! Heather was gracious, kind, helpful and very informative - as is ALL of the staff at Coffee Klatch. And I *always* ask what day the beans were roasted, at any place I go to! Usually, they were just roasted the day before.
When I went to Intelligentsia and Cafe Luxxe, I was also given good service, good information and I was well treated. I was also served the *best* espresso they could make - because they knew why I was there! At Inteligentsia, a parking attendant from another restaurant even parked my car for me, because all of the local parking was by permit, and he just wanted to help!
I think that the treatment, quality and service that you get at any establishment is equal to the treatment and the respect that you walk in the door with. I think that if you walk into a shop with an expectation that they have something to prove to you - because they have a *reputation* - you have walked in with the wrong attitude. If you don't tell people what you want, you don't get what you want. Anyone who has ever worked behind a counter can tell you how hard it is to work with the public. You can't please everyone, but you try! The public needs to treat the people and establishments who serve them with more respect.
Hey Heather, Apologies for the implication that you think your customers are barbarians - I know from personal experience that you respect your customers greatly. My intention was to respond to the poster who said that a shop like caffe luxxe could never succeed in a place like San Dimas. (And I was thinking specifically of a woman I met the last time I was in your shop who was sitting at the bar enjoying a traditional cappuccino!) I guess it just rankles a little to hear the suggestion that the traditional cappuccino is a drink that somehow can only be enjoyed by sophisticates or urbanites and that it's somehow only natural that people in the 'burbs prefer more calories and less coffee. I don't agree.
Also, the point I was trying to make applies to many, many shops, not just yours - I should have made that clearer. I used the CK menu board as an example, because yours is the shop that spurred this discussion in the first place, but I think it's true of A TON of shops. And of course there are many considerations that go into deciding to change your menu board, and of course you will do as you see fit.
But the larger point I was trying to make - and this goes for pretty much every shop I've ever been to - is that most people are passive choosers. They choose from what's in front of them, rather than trying to dream up something of their own invention. So if a shop has some interest in getting more of its customers to try a particular drink (and that's a big if) - putting it on the menu is a good start. One can argue that it's not a shop's business to try to influence one way or the other what their customers order, but I also agree with the poster who said that a lot of people who order a 20 oz vanilla latte do so because most of the espresso they've ever had in their life tasted like crap, and they don't want to repeat THAT experience (and rightly so).
Chris: Tucson, eh? OK, I'm adding it to the list...
Ehm, to be clear, the expectation of a third wave coffee shop tends towards the more 'traditional' to the competition standard for a cappuccino, and to get a twelve or sixteen ounce drink is a disappointment when you're at the home of, according to the judges, the best barista in the US. Harry was guilty of that expectation, and was equally disappointed. He never did say that this was either Heather's fault, nor was it a fault of Klatsh's either, just that he had and expectation and that it wasn't fulfilled. He did later post something along these lines and had acquitted Klatch, et. al. of all wrongdoing. I'm pretty sure that he, and the rest of us, are all on the same page with the whole 'You can't complain about not getting what you haven't asked for' bit. OTOH, we, as consumers, are caught in the quandry brought about by Starbonics and the Bucksian Empire, in that we either have to instruct the barista what we want by describing the ingredients and how we'd like them prepared (and in most places, that'll automatically include spit in your order...) or ordering what we think we want and hope that it's what they think that we think it is. There are about three-hundred pages of discussion about the definition of 'cappuccino' and the usefulness of standardisation of terms on other, more appropriate threads, but this points the problem out yet again. Heather, just keep doing what you're doing! The suggestion something indicating that ordering a la carte is acceptable might just make your customers happier, though. And that's the goal, right?
Chris: Tucson, eh? OK, I'm adding it to the list...
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