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l.a. café crawl -- surprising results
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Discussions > Regional > US West > l.a. café crawl...  
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Gusto
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Posted Mon Sep 17, 2007, 9:20am
Subject: Re: l.a. café crawl -- surprising results
 

I think people are coming down on H-Man a little rough here.  This guy drives all the way to LA and gives his honest opinion of a couple of well known shops in the area, and it seems like people are taking offense where it need not be.  Here we have a fellow CG'er going to what is supposed to be some of LA's hot spots for coffee.  Everyone knows you can even go into $bucks and tell them, "I want this, this, this and this," and you'll get it.  I think what H-Man is saying is that he had certain expectations and was slightly let down.  Judging by his experience and description, I would say justly so.  

It's interesting that other CG'ers are kind of harping on this and not agreeing with him????  

Let me say that I've been to each one of these places and haven't been disappointed.  That doesn't mean I don't want someone else's perspective on things, especially someone as devoted (if not more devoted) to coffee than myself.  

As far as Klatch is concerned, I've been there a couple of times and been pleased.  I'm with H-Man in saying that if you are a nationally recognized coffee shop with a NATIONAL CHAMPION barista, the bar is probably going to be set pretty high there.  As it should be.  When I walk into a shop like Intelly or Klatch I am expecting the best, not what I can get everywhere else.  Everyone on here knows that shops have to survive and have to appeal to local tastes, but look at Cafe Luxxe.  Luxxe is thriving and offering a sweat cappa (8oz).  I think H-Man says it best when he says if you believe in something, you'll be successful in it.  When I was at Intelly this past weekend (line out the door), I saw some people with huge lattes and mochas, and I saw other people sipping straight espressos.  If the supposed 3rd wave is going to take it to the next notch, it's not going to be just giving the people the same old, same old.

Gusto
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MarshallF
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Posted Mon Sep 17, 2007, 10:03am
Subject: Re: l.a. café crawl -- surprising results
 

Gusto Said:

I think H-Man says it best when he says if you believe in something, you'll be successful in it.

Posted September 17, 2007 link

The bankruptcy courts are full of business people who thought that was enough. It isn't. It never was and never will be.

Coffee shops are run by human beings who are trying to earn a living for their families, while building a business they can feel proud of. A relative handful of those people are also striving for the highest excellence in coffee, which some people call "Third Wave." But, even Third Wave people must deal with certain business realities.

To not understand the difference between the Montana Ave. market and the Arrow Highway market is to commit business suicide. Caffe Luxxe in its present form would last approximately 30 seconds on the Arrow Highway, which is why Mark did not locate there. Instead of sniping at them for making their standard milk proportions local-friendly, we should be celebrating the Perry family for creating an oasis of quality in an unexpected place that (Edit) for many years outdid anything in North Beach or Greenwich Village. (It has been good to hear how things have improved in Greenwich Village.)

Marshall
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Psyd
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Posted Mon Sep 17, 2007, 10:42am
Subject: Re: l.a. café crawl -- surprising results
 

MarshallF Said:

The bankruptcy courts are full of business people who thought that was enough. It isn't. It never was and never will be.

Posted September 17, 2007 link

That's kind of building a relationship where there may not be one.  The bankruptcy courts are full of people of oall stripes, usually those who's eyes are bigger than their wallets.  There are quite a few folk out there that are making it on their passion skills.  I know, I'm one of them. I make a fair living doing what I want to do, saying 'no, thank you' to anyone that wants me do anything else, and doing no advertising whatsoever. My passion for what I do fuels the quality of my work, and those that want quality work search me out.  In much the same way that I searched for 'Blue Bottle' stuck in an alley where the cab drivers had a hard time finding them (the line gave them away), and much the same way that I came of the 5 to make it to 'Barefoot'.  They refused (refused!) to put a doppio in a paper cup, and I left the shop admiring them for it. Not quite what you'd call you average 'customer is always right' business model.
"Build a better mousetrap", and all that.  No one has ever had any great successes doing what everyone else is already doing.  No one of any note, anyway.

Harry, you've always told it like it is; I see no reason to change that now.

 
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Gusto
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Posted Mon Sep 17, 2007, 11:02am
Subject: Re: l.a. café crawl -- surprising results
 

I was just waiting for that response...


MarshallF Said:

The bankruptcy courts are full of business people who thought that was enough. It isn't. It never was and never will be.

Marshall

Posted September 17, 2007 link

This may be true, but now you are just missing the point.  You can mock my business savviness all you want, but you're still off the mark.  The point about what H-Man is saying AS FAR AS I UNDERSTAND IT is that he was disappointed in his experience.  He wasn't asking anyone what he should have done.  Obviously the man knows his coffee.  What he was saying is there was an obvious difference in his expectations and the reality of his visit.  


harrymanback Said:

i ordered two double capp's, and what came out were two huge drinks -- i mean bigger-than-a-latte huge!  i then noticed the menu board stated a single comes as 12oz, a double 16 oz, and a cappuccino is a 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, 1/3 frothed milk drink -- wtf?!?!  i know for a fact this wasn't how heather perry was serving up her competition capp's (saw her in petaluma...great performance, obviously).  so how is this how they do it up in their shop?  starbuck's sizes in the shop and competition sizes at competitions?  and what's with that new math?  very weird.

harry.

p.s.  couple other things on klatch ......   sadly, one other negative point: while this roast was dated two days ago, they did have product on the shelf going back over two weeks.  honestly, i don't know what to make of this café given their proven competition chops vs. in-house standards.

Posted September 16, 2007 link

Is this what we're supposed to expect from one of the supposed top-notch coffee houses in the United States?  Let me reiterate again that I've only had good experiences at Klatch.  I'm not in any way saying that I would not go there and order a drink right now.  I just don't appreciate when I see people putting other people down for their honest opinions.  Especially that remark, now deleted, about SLO was way off camber.  

We all know and respect the coffee business and their owners.  Obviously we want them to survive.  But I think there's nothing wrong with expecting the best from a place that's supposed to be just that.  

Sorry about the rant, but I just can't stand disrespect to people that don't deserve it.  This is supposed to be a place where people can share their opinions and experiences, not be chastised over them.
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ckheather
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Posted Mon Sep 17, 2007, 11:20am
Subject: Re: l.a. café crawl -- surprising results
 

Thanks everybody for making the trek to come and see us and for your feedback, it will definitely help us continue to improve.  As far as the older coffee goes, as much as we try and rotate the coffees, customers always go for the freshest leaving the week old coffee to continue to sit there.  Our policy is to pull coffee off the shelves after 17 days, but we do miss stuff :(

Concerning the larger lattes, our standards are what you saw on the menu, 12oz single, 16oz double, and 20oz triple.  I understand that is not traditional, but it is what our market warrants.  I am all for the third wave coffee houses and doing traditional drinks, as we do if you just would have asked, but I don't think that third wave means I'm too good to make the drinks my customers are asking for.  We try and do a lot of events to educate our customers and get them to try new and different things, but at the end of the day I'm not above serving a 20 Vanilla Capp, and it will be the best Vanilla Capp they've had.  Third Wave should be a commitment to coffee excellence, not being too good to make a big drink.

As far as in house standards vs. competition standards goes, in both settings I'm appealing to a completely different set of judges, so I adapt accordingly.  As far as the Swift goes, all of our baristas our trained to use a manual grinder, but we do find a Swift helps to pull consistent shots resulting in better drinks.  We do have a pretty stringent training, but mistakes are still made and a swift helps to alleviate some of those mistakes.

We've been in business for 15 years and have learned such an enormous amount I wouldn't even know where to start.  As we learn we try to implement in our stores as much as we can.  Some things our customers respond to well and other things just don't go over well.  I think every coffee house should meet the needs of its community, and that is really what we try to do.  We are trying out best to raise coffee awareness in our community.  As far as the difference in Intelligentsia's standards at the Silverlake store vs. ours, we are not even remotely in the same market so we are very different.  

I do hope if you make it back out our way you give us another try.  We really are trying to serve great coffee to our customers, and we are sorry we missed the mark with you.  If anyone has any complaints or issues or questions, please feel free to call me at 951-318-6947.  That is my cell.  We want to do the best we can and while we aren't ready to change our drink size standards, we can definitely make improvements.

Thanks again for the feedback,

Heather
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JonR10
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Posted Mon Sep 17, 2007, 12:34pm
Subject: Re: l.a. café crawl -- surprising results
 

ckheather Said:

....I don't think that third wave means I'm too good to make the drinks my customers are asking for.  We try and do a lot of events to educate our customers and get them to try new and different things, but at the end of the day I'm not above serving a 20 Vanilla Capp, and it will be the best Vanilla Capp they've had.  Third Wave should be a commitment to coffee excellence, not being too good to make a big drink.

Posted September 17, 2007 link

Well said Ms. Perry

I'm a big fan of yours.  GREAT JOB at the USBC and WBC and congrats on both!!
I've watched your WBC performance a few times, it's very inspiring to me.  

If I come to SoCal anytime soon I will definately make a point of visiting Coffee Klatch....I'll be drinking straight shots and traditional cappa's and hanging out and chatting with whomever is working if it's not too busy.  

Thanks for posting!
Jon

 
Jon Rosenthal
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rocktageous
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Posted Mon Sep 17, 2007, 3:46pm
Subject: Re: l.a. café crawl -- surprising results
 

Gusto Said:

I think people are coming down on H-Man a little rough here.  This guy drives all the way to LA and gives his honest opinion of a couple of well known shops in the area, and it seems like people are taking offense where it need not be.

Posted September 17, 2007 link

Who's being rough on the original poster? Honest opinions keep the CG forums relevant.

As for Coffee Klatch, I would expect a cafe run by a barista champion to at least offer traditional sized coffee drinks, but I would also never expect a cafe in San Dimas to have the look and feel of a cafe on Montana or in Silverlake. Extremely different consumer bases. Marshall is also very correct that a quality business is not guaranteed to thrive on quality alone. I've been in Starbucks at 1 am that are far more crowded than I've ever seen the 2nd and Main Groundwork get.
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gabelucas
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Posted Mon Sep 17, 2007, 4:41pm
Subject: Re: 3rd Wave "Look and Feel"
 

MarshallF Said:

So, what is a 3rd Wave coffee house supposed to look and feel like? Someone's garage? Italian contemporary? Craftsman revival? Slick wood and stainless steel? A laptop factory? A cart on the sidewalk? I've seen all of these. I never detected a common look or feel. The only common theme was a commitment to excellent coffee.

Marshall

Posted September 17, 2007 link

Oh, as someone who has been involved in this thing called "3rd wave" I think we all know what these shops look like.

 
Gabriel Boscana
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MarshallF
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Posted Mon Sep 17, 2007, 5:26pm
Subject: Re: 3rd Wave "Look and Feel"
 

gabelucas Said:

Oh, as someone who has been involved in this thing called "3rd wave" I think we all know what these shops look like.

Posted September 17, 2007 link

You mean like this? (Cafe Europa - photo by "E-83" on Flickr):

MarshallF: Cafe Europa 4.JPG
(Click for larger image)
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harrymanback
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Posted Mon Sep 17, 2007, 5:54pm
Subject: Re: 3rd Wave "Look and Feel"
 

wow, guess i got a few people going.  thanks for both the supportive and firey comments -- especially yours, miss perry.  the fact that you rock so absolutely is probably why my expectations were so high.  welcome to the forums, and you still rock for that response.

i won't comment too much more because i think i've pretty much said all that i need to.  basically, i'm just a cappuccino snob (competition variety).  i never liked coffee at all until i found what a good capp can taste like.  that's why getting such a super-sized version at klatch shocked me, as did the old roasts.

the comments about what the local market is like i can't say too much about since i'm not from 'round these parts.  all i can say is from my own personal experience: never liked traditional american roasts, never liked espresso-based drinks unless they were super sweetened and super milky...and then i had a good cappuccino.  and now you're all stuck with me and my polarized opinions.  ; }

my prejudice comes from my own experiences.  if i went from hating bad coffee to loving good coffee, why can't everyone?  maybe it's not always that simple.  starbuck's did a lot by bringing the word "espresso" into the american vernacular, but they also did a lot of damage by changing the definitions of macchiato, cappuccino, and latte.

harry.

 
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