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Seattle Cafe Crawl – 10 Hours/14 Cafes

We recently had the privilege of hosting a group of guys from Fratello Coffee. One purpose of their trip was to visit Slayer and witness some break through in brewing technology and experience the ability to develop new characteristics in espresso brewing techniques. Day two’s purposed was to educate them on some of the great Seattle 3rd Wave café’s and bring this knowledge back to Calgary to help their clients elevate their skills in offering excellence to their customers.14 cafes were chosen (click here for a map of our tour), all different and all excellent in what they are doing. Let the madness & caffeine begin. You can also view the entire tour on our Flickr page.

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Victrola – (established 2003)
310 E Pike Street

Victrola is a relative newcomer to the Seattle coffee scene. Victrola’s two cafes are focused on serving extremely well-prepared coffee, whether brewed or as espresso.

Brewed coffee is prepared using traditional French press pots and served in 1.9 L airpots and the hot water for brewing is pulled from a tower. This supply of water is also used for Americanos – and by the way, I think Victrola is generally making the best Americanos in Seattle and a big factor is they don’t kill the espresso with water that’s too hot.

While we were there, Victrola was serving an Ethiopian Harrar coffee, which was somewhat lacking nuances typically found in Harrar such acidity and sweetness. Still there is nothing like French press to accentuate the body and fullness of brewed coffee. It was interesting to learn that the store has not had a conventional coffee brewer for two years now. Before that they used larger volume filter brewing systems. Once the decision was made and implemented to use exclusively French press, we were told that it didn’t take very long for their clients to prefer this method of coffee preparation and service – and I think that we will continue to see this method of coffee preparation in more 3rd Wave cafes.

In the espresso department, Victrola uses a 3 group Synesso machine (formerly Treuh and was actually one of Treuh’s launch customers) and 2 Mazzer Major espresso grinders. All espresso-based milk drinks are finished with a latte art flair. The barista here are obviously well trained and highly skilled. Their espresso roast is very light which seems to be the new “normal” practice in Seattle. We didn’t find out what they use for brew temperatures, but the espresso appears to be brewing slightly too hot, as evidenced by the very dark creama and slightly sharp taste.

Victrola roasts their own coffee. As you sit in the café of Victrola’s Pike Street store, you can see their Diedrich IR-12 roaster through huge glass viewing windows. Victrola has a very clean and (apparently) well organized roasting facility. I understand they learned roasting technique from David Schomer (Caffe Vivace).

Victrola offers free public cuppings on Wednesdays for their clients. In store cuppings are becoming a popular feature at many cafés of the café’s we visited on our tour.

Victrola also sells their whole beans to the public. One of note was the #20 lot of COE Costa Rican El Patio being sold for $12.50 per half pound.

Victrola is very focused on coffee (which ALL true 3rd Wave cafe’s are). Food is clearly secondary in their thinking and the offering is minimal. The café on Pike wasn’t over run with POS material and logos promoting their brand. Coffee was served in white paper cups, which were hand stamped with their logo – which also seems to be the norm in Seattle. Victrola is a very nice café with a minimalistic design that works well with the exposed brick. Very clean lines, with large windows floor to ceiling so the lighting was great. Nice jazz music played in the background inviting you to stay around.

Caffe Vita – (established 1995)
1005 East Pike Street

Caffe Vita is all about coffee as cuisine. They count Chef Tom Douglas among others as coffee devotees. At their café, Vita serves both brewed coffee and espresso. Brewed coffee is prepared French Press style, and served from airpots. The cafe does have a Clover on the back bar which is in the process of being installed. Once the Clover is set up, they will continue to brew larger volumes of coffee using the French press and will use the Clover to brew single estate coffees by the cup.

On the day we were there, Caffe Vita was serving Brazilian Carmo Nero de Minas, which is from the Sul de Minas region of Brazil, the main coffee growing region. Caffe Vita supports a community in this region with its profits and has chosen to work with a coffee farm that insists on not using temporary help. All workers are full-time which means the farm needs to find work for many people during the growing season. However, during harvest, it is easy to employee these people. This is a great commitment on the farmer’s part as well as Caffe Vita for supporting them in this program. I am really appreciating how some roasters are searching for ways to work with & support farmers, and more importantly their employees, on a micro level. Great work guys!

For espresso-based beverages, Café Vita uses a changed out their Marzocco for a 3 group Syneso with 2 Mazzer Rio grinders. The barista’s were very friendly and welcoming. They offer a small selection of Monin syrups as well. The espresso was very good and was roasted to a medium/full city profile. It gave full bodied mouth-feel with a smooth/creamy finish. This style of roast & pull seems to be the “old style” of Seattle espresso’s and not as light (and often over extracted) as what’s found in many cafés. The cappuccino was the perfect temperature, had a nice heart on it, and was prepared in such a way that you could really taste the espresso through the milk. You could still taste the acidity and body of the espresso, which is nice.

Other than coffee/espresso this café has very little in the way of other products. They serve a limited offering of tea, retail a small selection of home brewing equipment, and there are a few pastries to go with the coffee.

Caffe Vita’s roasting facility can be seen through the glass windows at the back of the café. They are using what looked like a 90 kilo Probat. As noted earlier, Vita works with many of the executive chefs in town and has started to increase its wholesale business in restaurants.

Currently Vita has 5 locations in Seattle. The East Pike store happens to be one of my favorite cafés in Seattle. The lighting inside has a “caramel” type coloring and the walls feature some great art. The skateboards on the wall, and the characters enjoying their coffee in the café environment, give this location a very “underground” feeling – which is very Vita.

Stumptown – (established 1999)
1115 12 Avenue & 616 East Pine

Stumptown has two locations in Seattle, and we went to both – one right after the other. This café and roasting facility has built a great reputation which is rightly deserved. Stumptown started in Portland many years back, and established a physical presence in Seattle only 3-4 months ago. Duane, the owner, is originally from Seattle; however he chose to start roasting and building his business in Portland.

Duane and assistant Aleco carry out all green purchasing activity and travel from 8-10 months a year. They work very closely with the regions they buy from to ensure they source the highest quality coffee. Some attention is paid to the growing and harvesting practices shown by there suppliers. Duane and Aleco are also mindful of the working conditions of the farmers and workers in these origin markets. This attention to detail shows once you try the product.

When you first walk into Stumptown’s cafe you can’t help but notice the small, elegant profile of the La Marzoco Mistral 3 gp EE. The staff greets you with smiles and engages you cheerfully. You will not find any negative attitudes or “coffee snobbery” from the knowledgeable members of this team, who were able to answer all the questions posed to them about coffee regions and taste profiles.

We tried the #1 COE Colombian from 2007. This coffee was amazingly sweet and clean with hints of orange zest, vanilla and nutmeg. After this pot of French press was gone, they switched to their Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Wondo Co-op which was even better than the Colombian. The Wondo hints of Lavender, jasmine, orange, cherry and licorice candy and is mazingly clean and sweet with a creamy/buttery body. WOW.

Stumptown’s facility on 12th has two levels. Upstairs is the café and downstairs is their training and cupping center. While downstairs, we noticed they had new café client inside a closed room training area and were viewing a video presentation on picking and processing of coffee. This level of training (including the culturally informative video we glimpsed) is mandatory for all customers. It is informative as well as practical and includes extensive espresso training. I REALLY like their commitment to education.

Their two coffee roasters are still being installed. One roaster (I’m guessing it was a 5-8 kilo) is the one that Duane started with, before Stumptown was Stumptown. The second was a larger (30 kilo I’m guessing) Probat.

Finally we learned that Stumptown on 12th holds free cuppings for their clients and the interested public every day. We didn’t get the chance to join them but I hear it’s very informative and not at all a cupping-lite sort of session. Did I mention I really like their commitment to education!

Stumptown on Pike – Stumptown’s second location gave the same impression as the store on 12th. It is much smaller and doesn’t have the roasting facility attached, but when you walk in, all you see is coffee. If it isn’t coffee, they don’t do it. Both locations are very clean with very simple design. Nothing is cluttered up with posters or tent cards trying to advertise what they do. Walk in and you know – Stumptown is all about the coffee.

Espresso Vivace Roasteria – (established 1988)
901 East Denny Way

David Schoemer is the originator and God Father of latte art and professional barista skills in North America. He is internationally renowned for his opinions on espresso roasting, brewing, and preparation. David has published several books and produced a number of videos, which aim to share his discoveries and educate anyone who is interested. David is also a world-class espresso equipment geek (gotta love it). He had experimented extensively over the years and was one of the first to recognize the importance of brew temperature stability in the preparation of consistently great espresso.

Espresso Vivace has three locations in Seattle. We visited his most famous, the iconic Denny Way store. Sadly, this building is being torn down to make way for Seattle’s new underground light rail. However, a new Vivace will open on Broadway sometime in May 2008.

Vivace has two Synesso 3 group espresso machines. Our tour got us there at lunch time and the place was packed with the line stretching out the door and beyond. You only find espresso at Vivace. You won’t ever see a French press or Clover brewer here, because brewed coffee has never been on the menu. Vivace is all about espresso. Of course, all milk-based drinks are prepared with amazing latte art. These baristas are clearly well trained. What I do like is that all espresso’s “to go” are still served in porcelain cups and encouraged to be consumed at the bar.

Trabant – (established 2003)

1309 NE 45 Street

Trabant purchases their coffee from 49th Parallel out of Vancouver. They switched recently from Intelligentsia, which is still “present” in the form of an Intelligentsia’s coffee display rack….now filled with 49th Parallel coffee.

The barista’s, Jonathan and Alexis, enjoyed having fun with us and didn’t mind joking around with a bunch of wired guys from Canada. This easy-going approach seems to be the wave in Seattle now, a market that has known its share of prickly coffee snobs snapping at customers from behind the counter.

It was nice to see another café in Seattle so dedicated to the Clover brewer, especially one offering a wide selection of quality coffees to brew on it. On our visit to Trabant, the following coffees were being offered:

1. Brazil Sul De Mina (the largest growing area of Brazil). This is prepared on the Clover using 34 grams for a 12oz coffee.
2. Brazil Daterra Opus
3. Nicaraguan Prodecoop COE #8 which is prepared using 30 grams for a 12oz coffee on the Clover
4. Guatemalan El Injerto COE #1

Russ sampled the Brazil Sul De Mina, which he said tasted fairly good, but felt this offering to be a strange pick for Clover brewing, as this region of Brazil is known for coffee with clean body and a well rounded character. Coffee exhibiting these characteristics can be brewed just fine with the Clover, however, the Clover really shines when the varietals are complex or highly idiosyncratic. The Brazilian cup was clean and had a soft body, but not a lot of character. We also tried the Nicaraguan Prodecoop COE #8 which was much better. This varietal has a citric orange acidity with milk chocolate undertones, very sweet.

For their espresso offerings, Trabant uses the Epic espresso from 49th. They prepare this on their 3gp La Marzoco Linea, which has some of the temperature stability modifications we add to our line of Slayer equipment. Trabant offers a large selection of Monin syrups for customizing drinks. It is noteworthy that every milk-based espresso beverage is prepared with latte art.

Every barista at Trabant must go through 6 months of training before serving the public espresso based beverages (wow). Trainees graduate from preparing brewed coffee to becoming full-fledged baristas. Both Jonathan and Alexis were obviously passionate about coffee and enjoyed their work.

In view of the specialty coffee focus at Trabant, their single Fetco brewer seemed a little out of place in this Third Wave Café. However there was no promotion or mention about the coffee they were brewing on their filter brewer, so maybe they are phasing this out? (edit: Trabant owner, Michael Gregory, informed me that they began using the Clover April of ’07 and stopped using the Fetco 3 days later – and only keep it around for americano’s and tea as the water from the espresso machine is too hot for this purpose (couldn’t agree more) this would also explain why the Sul de Minas is offered on the Clover…as discussed above).

Trabant is a very cool café filled with a younger crowd and being in the U district, every one there was studying or working on a computer. Ironically, the light blue colors and plain concrete flooring match the colors of 49th bags perfectly. Light Jazz music played in the background creating a very casual and inviting atmosphere, a great place to stay and enjoy your coffee.

Our last stop of the day had us visiting their second location, downtown in Pioneer Square. This café offers espresso and Clover brewed coffee. The bar was bare other than these two pieces of equipment and a couple of grinders. The walls are white with art and is a work in progress, as they only recently opened and every time I’m there the location looks better and better.

Both Trabant cafes are completely focused on coffee, and had very little food/snacks to choose from. They did offer a few items you could purchase (travel mugs with their logo, some beans, Bodums and a few other little gadgets, but that’s it).

Café Allegro – (established 1975)
4002 University Way NE

Café Allegro trades on the fact that they are one of Seattle’s very first espresso cafés. They have a large sign outside declaring that this is “Seattle’s Original Espresso Bar”. Our stop at Allegro was quick and unscheduled, so we didn’t have a chance to try their coffee.

However, this café was packed (always is), with people everywhere accessing free wi-fi on their computers. The atmosphere was very much like a study hall in an old library, an appropriate vibe, I guess, in view of the fact that the University of Washington campus is about fifty feet from their front door.

Equipment-wise Allegro has a four group La Marzoco Linea and a La Marzoco Swift espresso grinder. Behind the machine is a huge selection of DaVinci syrups which seem to distract from the rest of the café’s feel (which is very authentic to espresso).

We weren’t greeted with smiles or even a hello from the staff which was noticeably strange when contrasted to the service we received at all the other stops that day.

Café Allegro’s espresso is roasted and private labeled by Brown’s Coffee.

Starbucks – University District
4555 University Way NE

We had to stop by one Starbucks today (Ugg), and it was a very quick stop (really, I just wanted to see how iTunes worked on my iPhone…which it didn’t). It’s amazing how “un-authentic” Starbucks feels after being in all these other independent Seattle based cafes. However, it was busy it was inside and there is (unfortunately) still no question that Starbucks is popular. What was strange (or maybe not) is that 90% of the customers had blended drinks, iced drinks, soda’s or water. Only 1 or 2 people had a coffee or hot espresso drink. So Starbucks is popular but for more than just the coffee.

The staff was great, and was shouting orders over the music and conversations through out the café and were quite curious as to why there were 5 guys standing around, talking & taking pictures and the manager promptly came to ask “what’s up?”. This was the first café we went to today that had danglers, posters and “loud” marketing through out the café. Whole beans bags of coffee, board games and espresso machines (and WAY more) filled the shelves and made for a “busy” feeling through out the café.

No beverages were purchased today…

Café Solstice – (established in 1993)

4116 University Way NE

Solstice began as a coffee cart in 1993 and has come a long way since then. The café we visited in the University district opened in 2000. This is a great establishment, offering a fun coffee venue for students to hang out and study alone or in groups. The menu invites you to stay all day. In addition to coffee, there is a wine and beer list. This being the holiday season, Soltice was festooned in Christmas lights, giving the traditional environment a warm, festive feeling.

Soltice purchases their coffee from a local roaster named Lighthouse. They prepare their espresso beverages on a 3 group La Marzoco Linea and two Mazzer grinders. Despite the excellent coffee presentation, coffee seems to be a secondary focus to food and liquor selections. When we first walked in, you smell food, not coffee.

Soltice brews all their coffee using a French Press. Today the barista “thought” they were brewing Ethiopian but he wasn’t sure. All coffee is brewed and then kept in a thermal server to be served when ordered. Like so many high-end, high-volume independent Seattle café’s, Soltice does not use filter brewers to make coffee.

As is so often the fashion in Seattle these days, the to-go cups where plain white Solo style cups. However Solstice does not stamp their logo on these.

The espresso was pulled perfectly and had an amazing crema. The cup was clean, bright and sweet, however it had a slightly sharp aftertaste as it cooled. This sharpness also came through in the macchiato. The macchiato was also pulled perfectly with a latte art flourish. The barista’s were obviously very skilled, and showed their pride as they worked as well as being very friendly and did their best to answer our questions.

Zoka Coffee – (established 1996)
2901 NE Blakeley Street

The University store is Zoka’s third and newest location…a 3000+ square foot mega-cafe. Despite its massive size, the cafe was filled virtually to capacity. A clientele of graduate and undergraduate students sat around tables, drinking coffee, studying together, and comparing notes.

Zoka prepares espresso on a visually striking, custom-painted four group La Marzocco FB/70. As you might guess this machine is painted in a beautiful UW purple-admittedly a very unusual color for an espresso machine, but right-on for a clientele that is 90% Huskies. In front of this machine is the award their barista, Maki Campbell, received for her second place finish in the North West Regional Barista Competition. Behind this, on the back bar was a single U3 brewer using the cloth filters which are designed to give more body and character in the cup. This type of brewing technology may remind one of Caffe Artigiano in Vancouver.

Zoka promotes their coffee selection in store. Well-produced, informative brochures describing coffee origins and highlighting specific farms are within easy reach.

Zoka has a larger food selection than the other cafes we visited. Sandwiches and other food is prepared on a pannini grill with nice presentation. The food offering does not make the bar look cluttered or overly busy. The macchiato was clean and soft due to the amount of milk used in the cup, but the milk hid the character we were looking to find in the espresso.

Zoka offers traditional flavored espresso beverages, the kind that many Third Wave cafes eschew or play down. Zoka displays a selection of DaVinci syrups for this purpose. The café also serves smoothies and tea.

At the back of this café, there is a second bar, which is set up with a 2 gp Marzocco GB5 and a 2gp Linea. This bar is used for teaching and training. When we arrived the staff was preparing a coffee cupping class for staff and customers. This is a regular event and is free to the public. Russ was excited about this as he recently spent a week with Jeff Babcock the owner of Zoka while doing the Bolivian COE competition a few months back.

We cupped five new coffees being introduced in their café:

1. Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Organic Fairtrade
2. Rwanda UCAR – MIG Cup of Gold #5
3. Rwanda UCAF – MIG Cup of Gold #2
4. Nicaraguan Wiwili
5. Honduras Finca El Filo COE 2007 (not sure of the ranking)

While our group joined this cupping, we didn’t spend a lot of time analyzing the coffee due to our tight schedule and already over caffeinated blood stream. Five of the Zoka staff also joined us, and were led by Kim Cross who graciously encouraged us to join in.

Our favorite was the Yirgacheffe which gave a finish similar to peaches. Very clean sweet cup of coffee. Second favorite was the Rwanada #2 which had Green tea characteristics and an orange citrus acidity. Jeff was fortunate enough to join the Cup of Gold tasting competition this year with a select few other roasters (Stumptown, Allegro, being some others). Apparently this competition was a “trial for the upcoming first COE competition” being held this August 2008.

Zoka’s a great set up, a café with a very fun atmosphere.

Caffe Fiore
5405 Leary Ave NW

Caffe Fiore is an independent café with three locations in Seattle and their coffee is supplied by Caffe Vita. The coffee the use is exclusively organic and is custom labeled for them, as Fiore. Fiore coffee is also available as a selection from Vita as wholesale or at their cafés.

At Fiore, the mill work, custom-made ceiling lights and back lit menu boards give this café a very high-end traditional look-classy not fussy. The plain brick walls and large windows warm up the atmosphere take advantage of the natural light from outside. When you look out the windows you see several hundred new condo’s under construction, which should make this café busier than it currently is. Café Fiore will become the neighborhood café for the residents of these new Ballard townhomes and condos.

We were greeted and served by a single employee Fiore employee, Linnea, who worked her butt off the entire time we were their preparing all drinks, collecting money and cleaning up. I was very impressed with the friendly attitude she had while doing this.

On their bar is a 3gp La Marzoco Linea and 2 x Mazzer Rio espresso grinders. You will not find a coffee brewer here. Brewed coffee is prepared French Press style. This coffee is brewed, put into a thermal server and poured when required. Today they offered a Sumatran. Not a lot of information was given about the specific beans used, or farms from which they are sourced. All you are told is that it is an Organic Fair-trade product. We didn’t get to sample this coffee as most of us went for Americano’s, which were clean & sweet. The drink was well-prepared, but didn’t have a lot of body to it. The water used was also extremely hot (taken directly from the espresso machine). If the temperature was lower, and they used less water, it would have been a much better drink. The macchiato was also a little milky and wasn’t poured with a latte art.

Café Fiore also offers a small selection of food, Monin syrups (for flavoring your in-house beverage order) and Numi teas. The menu here is very simple, which is typical of all the great cafes we have been to. They do not clutter the walls, menu’s or tables with unnecessary marketing and POS material advertising specials and seasonal products. They focus on the same stuff each day and ensure they do a good job at that. Their to-go cups are plain white paper with a simple stamp of their logo. The only real “branding” was on their travel mugs.

Zeitgeist Coffee – (established 1997)
171 S. Jackson St.

The atmosphere in this café is great, bolstered by a location in the heart of Pioneer Square, Seattle’s oldest district. They have not done renovations for approximately 5 years, but it doesn’t show or even matter. They have created a timeless design, which should last for many years, a classic look. The 25ish high foot ceiling and massive windows gives the café an impression of being larger than it really is. The natural wood work and exposed brick give the impression that this café has been around for many more years than it actually has (11 years).

On their bar is a Linea 3 group EE and a GS 2 4 group. The GS machine is not a paddle version, though the GS 2 model was originally offered in a paddle version. Their La Marzocco paddle machine is off being refurbished, so the GS is a substitute. On the back bar is a dual Fetco brewer and two dual portion grinders for their regular coffee. Their coffee is roasted and private labeled by Hot Top Coffee roasters, however they say it is their own blends and roast profiles.

Grant, the barista working the evening we were there was a pro. He has been at the café for 5 years and knew his way around an traditional-style espresso machine. While watching him make shots, I noticed that he wasn’t afraid to throw away a shot that didn’t meet his standards. He expertly made some adjustments to the grinder, and pulled it again. I was a little surprised that after all of that, we didn’t see latte art on the cappuccino we ordered. I was also a little surprised by the amount of foam we received. It was a drier foam, not the wet foam more desirable and popular these days. That being said, you could taste the espresso in the drink and could tell it was a nice drink. The espresso was smooth with a rich full body. Their espresso roast wasn’t as light as many placed sampled today.

The food preparation was very nice here. The sandwiches looked very appetizing and were prepared on pannini grills. The other food selections were also healthy and included granola and yogurt selections.

Café Umbria
320 Occidental Ave South

Café Umbria has a lot of history behind it. The owners were the original roasters for Torrefazione Italia Coffee, a brand positioned by parent company Seattle’s Best, as the high end product. When Torrefazione sold its company fully to SBC, which then was bought out by Starbucks, Café Umbria was born.

Cafe Umbria’s café is a beautiful, high-end, and lovely café. It is also unapologetically, Italian. You will find no semblance here of the burgeoning Third Wave movement. The look and feel of now defunct Torrefazione is felt throughout Café Umbria’s decor (color tiles, made into Italian designs, etc…). The Italian cakes, gelato and fancy baked goods offered here are straight from Italy as well.

Strangely enough this was the first café we went to today which didn’t have a La Marzoco or Synesso espresso machine-nor were the machines on the front bar. The two semi-automatic Nuova Simonelli Aurellias 2gp’s were placed on the back bar, ala Italia.

Café Umbria being Italian in inspiration serves granita as well. It prepares this on a two-bowl Bunn machine. Brewed coffee is prepared on large Dual Fetco Brewers. There are no Clovers here, and the only chance you would ever have of seeing a French Press here, is if they renamed it the “Italian Press”.

We didn’t try any coffee, as it was now around 6:00 pm and we were all VERY WIRED due to the other 20ish drinks consumed before this stop-so no comments on coffee quality or preperation.

OVERALL

An amazing day. We saw a lot of cafes, and tasted a LOT of coffee. One thing of note was we were never served a dark roast coffee and the only place that even offered one was Starbucks.

The new 3rd Wave movement is going to be focused on quality. Quality of everything they do. Sourcing fresh roasted coffees, typically from roasters who source & roast the best coffees they can find. These coffee are very fresh and typically have a “roast date” on the bag. More and more barista’s are familiar with their roaster as well as the types of coffee they are offering. The best barista’s could give you information about the regions, roast profiles and sometimes even the farms that the coffee was sourced – as well as specifics on their espresso equipment (brewing temperatures, mods to steam tips). Many knew and would describe the specific espresso taste profile they were aiming to achieve, knew details on their organic milk and one café (Trabant) goes so far as to make their own chocolate sauce from scratch – which they went into detail about their process.

The equipment used is designed for incredible accuracy in heat stability and steam pressure. This equipment is designed to be used by professional barista’s, not just some kid looking for a job. The equipment is professional and is definitely at the hands of professionals.

The design, look and feel of these cafes is very clean, and simple (less is more). They let the coffee speak for its self. They do not have loud promotions, branding, marketing or POS material of any kind, usually plain brown paper bags for coffee, and plain white paper cups with their logo stamped on the side. They generally aren’t promoting other beverages of any kind if they even offer other drinks. You would need to ask them if they had tea, smoothies, etc….as one is generally not going to 3rd Wave cafes for a smoothie, chai or blended espresso drink, your there for a perfectly made coffee.

Finding a “drip”, or filter coffee is hard to find. Most cafes are using a French Press and their clients are very happy about that. Very few had a brewer and approximately the same number were using a Clover.

3rd Wave café’s and roaster’s are obviously obsessed about quality, training & educating their customers – but are also concerned with organic products, the environment, sustainability and social consciousness. Choosing to ignore the last part of the list, and you’re really missing what 3rd Wave is about in my opinion.

To compete in this ever-evolving coffee & espresso market – and to easily succeed against the Big Chains – is as simple as:

1. Simplify your café as well as what you offer. Specialize and focus your niche & energy
2. Upgrade your equipment where necessary. Processional 3rd Wave café’s are busy and need to rely on their equipment being accurate & reliable
3. Training people. Make sure you’re dealing with roasters who really know & understand what 3rd Wave is about and can train you & your barista
4. Improve the quality of all your products. This is no place to skimp. Your customers can find a big cup of average on every corner

We have witnessed countless times and in many more cafes than we had time to visit today – that those who execute these 4 steps are destroying the Big Chains located literally next door to them. The 3rd Wave café’s are packed with people with more waiting in line. Then next door at the Big Chain, we gaze in the window – past the danglers/fake Christmas presents/tinsel/CD’s/crap….we see 2 or 3 people being attended to by one of the 3 – 4 staff.

Not only does the 3rd Wave approach to coffee work in business – its way more fun.

Cheers