Friday, August 31, 2007

The Best?

First of, congratulations to our friends in Mt. Lebanon, Aldo Coffee for being voted "Best Baristas" in Pittsburgh. Way to go!

Today, something frightening happened in the shop. No, it wasn't that the pastry case broke (again, second time in a week) or that some metal was mixed in with our decaf Sumatra beans--stopping the grinder until I could take the whole thing apart and reassemble (should have taken pictures). Instead it was two customers who asked for straight espresso shots. We take a lot of pride here in our espresso and our preparation technique, as does our roaster/blender TJ from the Commonplace Coffeehouse in Indiana, PA. The lady of the sibling pair told me that she has a Francis!Francis! home espresso machine in which she uses Illy beans, considered some of the finest in the world. Understandably, I was nervous--a lot rides on that initial impression, especially in a business so dependent on good word-of-mouth.

She told me it was the "finest espresso I've ever tasted." Her brother agreed. I was both relieved and made even more nervous. I had done well with this gift given to me. I had brought out its full potential (as far as I know--I did taste the leftover ounce of the single and it was sweet and delicious). But, that sort of experience can easily lead to pride--to snobbery, which leads to an inferior product and inferior customer service. Neither of which, honestly, I have any desire to be associated with.

It did bring out a question I've had about marketing for a long time. Who has the authority to say something is "the best"? There was a (now defunct) local shop that touted itself on its website as having "America's best espressos, americanos, etc..." According to whom? The owner? The critics? The customers? I don't know in this case.

The lady that I spoke of before asked for something, though, before she drank her shot. Somewhat sheepishly, she asked for cream. Many in the coffee world would cringe at such a request, because (possibly) it is easy to forget that we aren't doing gallery art that shall forever remain forbidden territory. We are preparing culinary art that is meant, above all, to taste good. Does she want cream? I may not take cream in my espresso, but I don't have the right to pronounce on the "proper" way to taste something, especially since everyone has different tastes. Even with the cream, she said it was darn good. In the end, the only ones who really have the authority to say whether something is the "best" or not is the taster. Critics have their place due to (hopefully) refined palates, but they are not the only ones to consider. Every customer is tasting and will vote with their hard-earned dollars and precious time. I want every one of them to have the best tasting (and dining) experience every time they come in. Even so, we won't be the objective best, but we'll all be getting better together.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Excitement in Building

Within a week here, most all of the returning/new Geneva College students will be here. Slowly and steadily the daily business has been increasing over the last couple of weeks, as professors find their way back, students discover Beaver Falls again, and staff keep us company. This is the beginning of an exciting season here at BFC&T. So many folks from the college have brought much to the proverbial table here, whether a kind word, a suggestion, a recipe, or a regularly scheduled class to use our backroom.

Welcome back everyone! Hope this year produces much academic fruit; we'll brew the coffee that fuels the intellectual engines.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

It's "Cooler" Than Ever to Hang Out at BFC&T!

The sweltering summer heat has let up for a few days, but it is ready to charge back on through again. To combat this, we have installed another air conditioner here at BFC&T to improve your comfort. Whether you're coming for the drinks or the company, or just to get out of the heat for awhile, stop on in! Relax, cool yourself, and enjoy any number of our iced or blended drinks.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Dawning of a New Day

Today marks the first time I've ever roasted coffee beans. I jimmy-rigged a popcorn popper with a candy thermometer and went to town (with the help of What an incredible process! The smell is lingering, even now, in my nostrils. Wonderful. I'm going to try brewing it tomorrow, so we'll see if it is any good. If not, I'll try again. If so, I'll try again. Eventually the goal is to start roasting in house, so you will be able to get fresh coffee to order. Someday...