Last days were intense, but here I am.
First, I wanted to say that starting this September I am gonna be collaborating with the coffee roastery Cafés San Agustín from León, Spain, and on their page you will be able to find me writing articles in Spanish, that might or might not be published here. I am excited about that collaboration as any person is excited when feels that he is about to get a new friend – after all, coffee is about people, and what is the value of a cup of coffee if you have nobody to share ( and discuss 🙂 ) it with?
And about the backbone of the specialty coffee shop.
As you might have guessed, it is about people as well. You cannot run away from it.
As with any law that is intended to be put to work, the same happens when a coffee shop decides to follow the path of specialty – first step is to clarify your position about specialty (as the owner or the manager) and then to make sure that people who are working for you are looking in the same direction and will implement your idea into life. Not only the coffee professionals (although they are the first one for sure), but everybody else who is working for them.
The point that I want to make is that a successfull way of a specialty coffee place starts and finishes in the head of the owner/manager of the business. They can see it as a fancy trandy game, geekiness, that makes no sense, something that doesn’t need any special training and knowledge – any of these will define the limit of that particular place. How? Because the business is nothing more than the reflection of its owner and creator. It is the law.
The most successful specialty places that I knew or worked with started with their owners. It should be either a coffee professional itself, who sets an example and a goal for his guys, or an avid learner, who never stops, and in the end becomes an exemplary professional. There is no other way.
Coffee is a pretty complex product to begin with, that requires knowledge, consistency, attention – which is by itself is hard to implement on a daily basis, and it just cannot afford weak corporate inner marketing strategy, weak vision about “why we are having specialty and how”. In other words, yes, specialty coffee can be seen like geekiness by anybody but the owner and the manager of the place. Anybody else can have doubts, even the baristas – anybody, except for those ones who are the heart and soul of the project – onwers. They set the limit of how far the place will go by their own behavior, I am not saying here even the marketing policy. Just by their behavior.
Like an owner of a restaurant must know how to taste the dishes, the owner and manager of the specialty coffee shop must know how to taste the coffee. Leaving all the preferences behind, he should know it to control the quality, to control the baristas, to correct the mistakes, and, last but not least, to know what kind of product is served to the customer. He shouldn’t love coffee, no. I don’t really care if he loves it or hates it, but he should be able to taste and say “this is good”( up to our standard) or “this is bad” (does not go with our standard), – and explain why.
And just this shows the approach, the importance, the place that specialty takes in that particular cafe.