Great Coffee Susan

Appreciating Great Coffee or Helping Fellow Coffee Lovers Keep Their Standards High

Month: September, 2011

Bad Service is Not Worth It

On a flight to Boston, my husband and I decided to grab some coffee and a snack in Harvard Square.  I knew just the place, Crema Cafe.  I stumbled upon it when I was in Boston last.  This place serves George Howell Coffee.  I was so looking forward to a wonderful cup of coffee before we officially began our day in New England.  Well, we may have gotten great coffee but our experience there was disappointing thanks to the woman who took our order and rang us up.  She clearly did not want to be there.  She was so focused on giving us attitude and essentially trying not to do her job that she didn’t charge us for the pound of beans I explicitly showed her so she in fact wouldn’t miss it.  Well she did.  Before we even took a sip of our drinks, we already had a bad taste in our mouths.

Why do some cafes still think it’s acceptable and even cool to provide bad service and attitude?  I’m willing to pay a premium for great coffee but like paying a premium for a superb meal at a restaurant, part of what I’m paying for is the service that delivers it.  When service is bad and the cafe employee is flat out rude, I’m no longer willing to give the place more business.  Thankfully, especially in most major U.S. cities, the number of cafes that provide amazing coffee along with good service is growing.  (Over the next few months I’ll share examples of such places.)  And even if I’m in an area where my options are very limited, I’d rather wait until I return home to have a great cup of coffee — I usually drink Blue Bottle — than give someone money for bad service.

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Skip the Coffee If You Must

“I’ll have a vodka tonic with Kettle One.”

“Give me a Guinness.”

Such care is taken with ordering a cocktail or beer or even a soda.  For some, if the restaurant doesn’t serve Coke, then forget about it.

Even when we order food, we have particular preferences.

“I’ll take the house omelet but can I have egg whites?”

“Do you use grass fed beef for your burger?”

So after a swanky cocktail, scrumptious organic-grass-fed-free-range-locally-grown-truffled-meal why settle for taking whatever hot, black liquid a place serves?

Many who serve you in restaurants have no clue as to the kind of coffee they offer not to mention how to prepare it.  I’ve found myself deciding against ending a wonderful meal with a cup of coffee because of either the lack of basic coffee knowledge or the fact that the coffee offered is not good.

Fortunately we’re seeing an increasing number of highly reputable restaurants such as Jose Andres’ Think Food Group restaurants, list their roasters on the menu.  Andres’ east coast restaurants offer Counter Culture Coffee while The Bazaar in L.A. serves Intelligentsia.  I love dining at such restaurants.  I even select a restaurant based on the coffee it serves.  Not only am I going to have a satisfying meal but I know I’m going to end on a high note with a great cup of coffee.

Start asking your server about the coffee.  Who roasts it?  What’s the origin?  If s/he doesn’t know then it’s best to skip the coffee.  Why ruin a wonderful meal?

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