Sunday, 19 May 2013

Open Letter to Cafe Owners, Restaurants...anyone who serves Coffee

Apologies for my silence, my Life is in flux at the moment. My Boy is finishing up his exams, getting ready for university and we are moving. Unfortunately, the flat we are moving into needs a serious overhaul. So me and mine are busy getting ready for the next part of our lives.

In the meantime, it puts my plans for World Coffee Domination to one side temporarily. Note, I said to one side, not on hold.

Because in the meantime, I'm still drinking coffee. 

And this blog post is a rant.

Ladies and Gentlemen, there really is no excuse for bad coffee. 

I have turned into one of *those* people. When I go into an establishment now, I check out the coffee machine, I look at the state of the grinder, the state and colour of the beans in the hopper, the steam wand and see whether or not there's a tamper. I ask the person serving me about the coffee. And then, if I'm not satisfied. I order tea. Life is way too short for Bad Coffee.

As a restaurant owner, cafe owner or a business that serves coffee on the side...why oh why do you serve shit coffee? Why are you missing an opportunity? Is your business really doing so well that you can afford poorly trained service staff ?

I like eating out. The food around here is great. Lots of places now are making a real effort to ensure the produce on their menus are organic, locally and ethically sourced and then I get served shite coffee. Coffee roasted black; oily and sticky beans and brewed through a gorilla's nappy.

OK, so I'm exaggerating about the gorilla's nappy.

But I've recently had a cup of filter coffee that was so awful, I was nauseous after drinking it. No really. I'm not exaggerating. It was vile. 

Before I drank said vile cup of coffee I asked the server behind the counter about the coffee. She didn't have a clue, wasn't interested and asked me if I wanted to talk to the manager when I asked another question.

Customer service? No, not so much.

As a business owner, manager, or server, your job is to make sure my experience in your establishment is a great one, fabulous even. You want me to leave your place and tweet about what a wonderful time I had there. You want me to tell my friends, my work colleagues, strangers on the street, what great food I had, what great wine I drank and that the evening was finished off perfectly - with an amazing cup of coffee.

Which means attention to detail. By the care that has gone into your decor, it's clear you want to be proud of your business. You're obviously hoping to appeal to my ethical side by insisting the produce is fresh and locally sourced. Follow through damn it. Serve me a decent cup of coffee. Train your staff to be as enthusiastic about that espresso as they are about the fresh asparagus and free range eggs.

I know times are tough and you get what you pay for. Buying cheap coffee might seem like a price saving, but it is false economy. People will pay money for good coffee. Hell, the amount of Costas and Starbucks popping up like dandelions, should tell you that people will pay good money for bad coffee. 

Invest the money on good coffee. There are speciality roasters out there who will help and guide you. Supply you with great coffee you'll be proud to serve; train your staff to boast about the coffee and to use your coffee machine properly. Make your customers' experience in your establishment a great one. Tie up that last loose end.

I'm done being silent about it. If I come to your business and the server has no idea what they're doing, don't care and neither do you, I'm going to say.

I've worked behind the bar. I cut my teeth in my dad's pub. I know how hard it is to make any money serving food and drink. I know how impossible customers are, how much your feet hurt at the end of a shift. I know that VAT returns make you stressed four times a year.

The thing is, I work hard for my money. When I spend it, I'm not willing to blow it on shite coffee anymore. I want a good time. You show a good time and I am going to shout about it. I will tweet, blog and Facebook every last detail. I will stop strangers in the street, I will tell my colleagues at work about it. You show me a good time and I'm going to want to support your business as best I can.


  1. Being the wimpiest coffee drinker in the world, I can honestly say I don't know coffee. And what I drink is probably technically a mocha, but without all the whipped cream and crap on top they tend to serve here. I like half coffee half hot chocolate, with a couple shots of cream mixed in. That's it. That way, it barely tastes like coffee. (ducks as you'll probably fling something at me)

    But I can certainly appreciate that people who DO like good coffee should be able to get it wherever they are dining. When your World Coffee Domination tour starts up again, you'll get them all in line, right? xoxo

    1. The thing is, you probably add all that stuff in your coffee because you're drinking stuff that is too dark roasted.

      If you find a speciality coffee house, they can brew coffees that taste like hot fruit juice. I kid you not. Light and flowery. Look for Ethiopian Yirgacheff, if you have it made by aeropress or by a siphon it is lovely. With a siphon, it looks more like a tea and is yummy, yummy. You'll spot the blueberries coming through.

      Honestly, you're the kind of coffee drinker I itch to get my hands on. Show you the breadth of coffee flavours that can be enjoyed.

      I'll bring all my gear with me, if you make me cake!

      In the meantime, hit the internet and see if you can find an independent coffee house that serves speciality coffee.


    2. You're on! I make cake, you make coffee!! I can make you any kind of cake you like, if you'll make me coffee I don't have to disguise.

      I have no idea what an aeropress or siphon is when it comes to coffee making... shows how unknowledgeable I am! (Is that even a word?)

    3. You're on! I'll put my order in now for a carrot cake with that scrummy frosting!

      I will write a post just for you! Give me a few days and it will be up. I'd love to show you. I'll get pictures and everything!



    4. Cool! And I think I owe you a recipe for blueberry pancakes, don't I? Can't remember whose blog I was on when I mentioned them. Will post that too. Mago reminded me the other day. :-) xoxo

    5. I'd rather you cooked me those pancakes!

      One days soon honey, we are so going to be hanging out.

      That's a promise.

  2. I SO agree with this.
    As a Coeliac disease sufferer, a lovely mug of coffee, along with a gluten free brownie is my 'once in a while' treat and if the coffee is awful, it ruins my day-- quite literally.
    I am disabled and as such, a lot of coffee shops are inaccessible as they cram too many tables in to the floor space available and leave no room for a wheelchair or a babies buggy either!

    It takes a lot if both physical and mental effort to get the bus into town with my hubby as he is my carer and going to a coffee shop means a drink he can have peacefully and not made by himself!
    All these coffee shops need to sit up and take notice; our Tassimo machine is beginning to replace the outings to the shops as at least we are guaranteed seats, a quiet ambience and a decent coffee at home.
    Shame, but truthfully, I am losing faith in many businesses who care more about making a fast buck than their customers.. ..Not cool, guys!

    1. Hi Kate

      Thanks for popping by and leaving a comment.

      That's exactly my point.

      Your experience in their establishment should be a special occasion, where you feel looked after and feel like you're getting value for money. Without feeling like you're being a pain in the ass.

      The fact of the matter is they won't be making any kind of bucks if they don't look after their customers.

  3. I'm an infant when it comes to coffee. I can't drink it black. I like Starbucks and I LOVE my Nespresso machine, George. He's lovely and has the potential to make a great latte which is what I drink. So, I'm not a coffee snob.

    That said I agree that everything should be great when you go out. Also the coffee and in extension the latte. I don't want to pay for anything that's less than satisfying and the coffee after the meal is the dot over the i

    1. Hey Pete

      Honey we're just never going to agree on the coffee you drink and the shoes I wear! And you know I love you anyway! But what's more important to me is that you get the coffee experience you want and you're paying for.

      No one should pay money for old rope when it comes to coffee or dining out.

  4. How true that if a restaurant prides itself on the quality of its food, then what's the point of finishing it off with a crap cup of coffee served by staff who don't know what decent coffee should taste like? You just leave the restaurant with a sense of anti-climax and disappointment instead of thinking what a great meal it was.

  5. As a friend of mine says, you leave with a nasty taste in your mouth.

    Why do that? How does that make business sense?

  6. I know which establishment you are talking about - I had acid indigestion all day - that coffee was nasty!

    1. That experience was so awful, I had to write about it. Next time, I'm going to name and shame.

      It made me cross.

  7. I know a good coffee when I taste it, and I, too, cannot be bothered with shite coffee.

    :-) Shite. Still makes me laugh.

    But you're right: the consumer is no longer willing to spend their money "so-so" when they've had "damned good.

    Lead the way, Roses.


    1. Oh honey, you come over here and you know you're going to be drinking damn fine coffee!


      PS. It's a good saying isn't it?

  8. Spend their money ON so-so.

    For cryin' out loud...

  9. Replies
    1. Thank you for popping by for today's sermon!

  10. Lovely rant :-)

    I think that the rise of the espresso has a lot to do with non-coffee establishments serving bad coffee (others have written at length about this out on the web). The problem is, with espresso, there's an awful lot that can go wrong and you only need one of these things to be off to serve bad coffee. So, you need to spend a lot of money on equipment, maintenance, training, etc... And for what? To serve a few cups of coffee with a small margin at the end of the meal to (and let's be honest here) mostly non-discerning customers.

    Personally I'd much rather restaurants and the like ditched the espresso machine and just made simple, good coffee, either as a pour-over or a cafetiere. You can do this with a lot less financial outlay, but I suspect that most (non-discerning) customers are expecting/demanding espresso.

    As a fellow coffee-lover, I find it all rather depressing.


    PS Thanks for putting me on your blog roll :-)

    1. Hi Brian

      Many slapped wrists for not replying sooner. My only excuse is that life has exploded.

      I do see your point, and yes, I'm sure it is a small margin. But the devil is in the detail. And the fact of the matter is, people will pay lots of money for coffee. Why not make it a good experience?

      You've raised a good point though, a pour-over or a French press would be a great alternative and would save money.

      I do disagree with you though, non-discerning customers are an opportunity to create great coffee enthusiasts. It's a business opportunity. Given that coffee shops in the UK are the only thing growing on the high street, anyone in the food industry would be daft missing that chance.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

  11. Hey Roses! I'm with you on this one. I must confess I normally drink in Starbucks, where they have their policy about "not happy, we'll make you another". This is a lovely idea, and I take full advantage of it; if I'm not happy, I say so. Mind you, I do everywhere else, too ;) That said, at £3.50 for a coffee, it's probably not eating into the profit margin much, but it's a good business practice. Another flat white made with Guatemala Antigua Espresso? Don't mind if I do... Indigo x

    1. Ah honey, let me take you to one side and beat the Chain Coffee madness out of you!

      Let me introduce you to independent coffee houses who serve speciality coffee - that's less expensive than the chain coffee crap and tastes so much better.

      *claps hands*

      A new victim! Bwahahaha!

      By the time I'm done with you Indigo, I will have you spitting as you walk past! That my dear is a promise.


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