Last week I visited some dear friends in northern California. After landing at the San Francisco airport I drove up to the Sacramento area and then made my way down to Berkeley/El Cerrito, San Francisco and Palo Alto/Mountain View. Of course I enjoyed really good coffee along the way. I’m inspired by the notion that places such as Temple Coffee & Tea in Sacramento not only serve great coffee but also create a mature, grown up atmosphere.
As I walked into Temple Coffee & Tea, I immediately noticed the wood furniture and industrial design. The cafe is spacious and uncluttered. The floor is concrete and the tables are long giving a communal atmosphere. Green plants appear to be strategically placed throughout the store. I didn’t feel granola crunchy at all. If anything I felt like I was in a very forward thinking, cool yet extremely professional design studio – at the very least what this studio would have as a reception area. The only people around were professionals holding meetings or taking a break from the office.
The barista brought the coffee to me at the table I settled into. I had the Ethiopia – Amaro Dernaye as a pour over which was divine. Temple uses floral, lemon, soft with clean finish as its description. I also picked up some pistachio and definitely experienced the clean ending. It’s not an overwhelming bean but definitely not disappointing either.
I also indulged in a raspberry lemon scone. Temple uses Old Soul Company and one other baker for its baked goods. I love how coffee shops are starting to care about the baked goods they serve. The food is no longer seen as just an obligatory object full of flour and butter. The scone was delicious.
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.