Everyday Vision

December 20, 2009

It’s so cool seeing how many companies these days have a definable, tangible ethos, or set of values to do business with, and even cooler is when you can feel and see the concepts they strive to operate on manifesting themselves in their stores.

I think its interesting to consider the impact of leadership and vision in the most basic of espresso bars, through to the full blown coffee wholesale/retail/cafe coffee company. It’s huge, and indeed will become more and more important as time goes by.

The question is, how do we know that the core principals upon which we do our business are being upheld when we are not present?

I know that very often when I was away from the shop as a manager, there was potential for a loss of focus and a lapse in concentration amongst the remaining (very talented and dedicated) staff. I can only imagine, having never been in the position myself, this situation from a business owner’s perspective. It seems a trade off occurs, that is, the more concerned with direction and values of the company we are, the less involved in the practicality of applying those values on a day to day basis we can be. Conversely of course its very easy for floor staff and work-horse baristas to get bogged down in the job and loose sight of the bigger picture.

This leads me to two questions. 1. How can we gauge the effectiveness of our goal setting, strategy, vision etc without being present in the stores all the time and 2. How can improvements be made to that?

Maybe the answer to both questions is that our people need to be involved. Now, I know thats no revelation, but I’ll explain what I mean by the word “involved”.

Involved: Made a genuine part of the definition, application and expression of the principals which are important to us and the company.

I think if everyone working in the shop was asked to write for the website, explain their preparation of a plunger as a demo for customers or represent the shop’s baristas at company meetings where company direction is discussed, that instead of being an imposition, or requirement, application and mindfulness of the larger picture will be what empowers staff to perform better.

It’s very important for this gathering of minds to be a genuine collaboration, and not a token gesture to make staff feel like they are being listened to.

This arrangement would lead to any concepts, ideologies or direction etc to be absorbed into the collective consciousness as a company and then be naturally permeated throughout, rather than the possibility of staff feeling at odds with “what they are being asked to do”.

Having our staff involved in this way also solves the problem of keeping track of what strategies are being adopted in practice, as staff, internally motivated, naturally regulate, and maintain their focus in accordance with their goals.

I’d be interested to hear anyone’s opinion on this, please leave your thoughts in the comments section here!

I’m just about to go and roast a whole bunch of coffee for the upcoming family coast xmas trip, here are a few shots from the pre-roast-psych-up coffee making from this morning. Also for those of you who have discovered the ecstasy of pumping awesome tunes whilst making and drinking coffee, Nick Cave’s “Muddy Water” is a perfect companion to a double espresso. Also I must say that of the last 5 or 6 of square mile subscription coffees, the most recent, the Brazil Yellow Bourbon thing, has been my pick, and is flippin’ amazing.

Oh, just quickly I was surprised to see the videos on the Sensory Lab’s youtube channel, showing that “Otto” coffee machine, does anyone else see the contradiction between those videos and the St Ali/Sensory Lab’s usual pristine style and coffee focused way of doing things? Whats the story?




The C Bomb

December 18, 2009

Caffeine. The great equivocator; the more you consume, the less you can consume. What a delicious trade off.

If I had a penny for every time the heart palpitations and cold sweats/hot flushes have (almost) prevented me from enjoying an incredible coffee , well I’d have more pennies. I can’t help but be slightly amused every time a seemingly hung over, or in fact still wasted, customer approaches the counter asking for a super-caffeinated-eye-popping-seizure-inducing-paranoia-heightening-heart-rate-escalating mother-of-a-coffee, thinking it’s going to save them and make then look like a hero at the same time. Sure it’s going to taste ok, and yep they are going to be more alert, but the reality of a 5 shot monster latte is this; even though it might make the recipient feel more adequate as a bloke when ordering it, within minutes of consuming said latte, he’s going to have a much clearer idea of how bad his hangover really is.

Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a decent caffeine high as much as the next guy, but surely its a side benefit to drinking heaps of awesome coffee. I guess I’m just tired of feeling those desperate eyes, silently pleading with me to say “Wow, 5 shots in your latte, you must have (had) a big one.” and not “Wow 5 shots in your latte, that’s going to taste intense”.

I like the sentiment the dude at Transcend Coffee finished his recent blog with, which was roughly “Drink less, more frequently.”

Wise words.

I almost forgot the picture for the post, here is a snap of what I thought looked like a dude in the bottom of my esp cup. Maybe if I was to turn my cup around 3 times and chant, he’d fill my cup with whatever amazing coffee I ask for? 



Photos, Catharticism and Caution to the Wind

December 18, 2009

After hesitating for months, trying to decide the best way to approach my blog, I’ve decided to simply write it. I’ve also decided that I tent to prefer blogs with pictures, possibly due to a fondness for children’s literature or a short attention span, so I’m going to attempt a few photos for each post as we go along.

A brief idea of what to expect.

I’m no expert on coffee but I’ve worked for several companies and entertain a strong affection for all things coffee. Kinda half enthusiast, half professional. I’m planning on writing about shop related coffee stuff, general domestic stuff, maybe a bit on home roasting, and a bit of strategy stuff too.

With writing, being such a great, expressive medium, and with the internet being so densely populated with seriously pro coffee blogs, I’m feeling inclined at the moment not to self censor too much here, but instead to share my thoughts about the possibly less talked about aspects of being a coffee person and to get emotional damn it!

So, first up I thought I’d post a couple pics I’ve taken during various syphon, plunger, and espresso sessions at home, here they are!

I was considering doing the flickr thing, as so many coffee people have, but I seriously cannot be bothered with yet another username and password to remember/write in my ever growing “things to remember” book of amnesia.

Ok, I’ll bail for now.