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Thread: General Advice Needed

  1. #1
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    General Advice Needed

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    I made a more lengthy post about this on my blog (Cafe Grendel) but rather than clutter it up around here with the full length version Ill just pose the question. Id like to hear from anyone, but particularly if you own, work or have worked in a cafe.

    Locally we have a café. They’ve recently relocated and it has a nice view and is convenient for us to sit on a Sunday morning. Their coffee is currently awful, but I reckon it is worth my while to keep going back and make supportive comments to the owners. The owner and staff are great and do care about the customers, so in that sense they at least have a chance, but their knowledge of coffee is not what it could be and they are using a coffee roasted in Italy and imported and very very stale.

    I’d love to see what they could do with locally roasted beans and a little instruction.

    My problem is how to move the owner to decent coffee and how to use it properly - without offending them.

    I’d love to hear any advice from anyone on how I can gently encourage the owners to grow their business in the direction of good coffee – or do you think it is not worth my while?



  2. #2
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    Re: General Advice Needed

    Definately worth your while. My advise is to talk to the barista, just about coffee in general, if there is some passion there you should be able to bring up that you home roast and freshness...... Then drop a few local roasters names, or try to get them to visit some good cafes that use local roasters. Keep supporting them or they have no reason to listen to you.

  3. #3
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: General Advice Needed

    Thats a tough one grendel.

    Ill be upfront and say I havent worked in a café.
    My dad used to own one when I was born but my only contribution to the business was raiding the lolly counter to give chocolates to my mates.
    We left when I was 6.

    However I have worked with him in other businesses.

    I think you need to suss out some info first to get an opening to that hard question you want to ask about changing the coffee.

    How about starting with asking about the coffee they do use.
    Im hoping youve worked out its imported Italian stale stuff by sight not from conversation.

    Ask the owner about the coffee.
    Find out if they have to use it.
    I believe café owners can be tied to a coffee through their machine supplier (like Coke and fridges).

    If they arent tied to a supplier then at least you have a chance.

    If the owner questions your expertise, tell them you are a CoffeeSnob and that you regularly converse with coffee experts and amateurs all around the country and the world for that matter.

    Im sure if you can get the opening you know all the right things to say.

    Its that lead in you need.

    The other thing is that youll obviously need to butter them up with all the nice things you said in your post about the good location and nice view.

    As you said yourself, "gently".

  4. #4
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    Re: General Advice Needed

    Keep supporting them, but try to take the owner of the cafe to the local roaster. Hopefully this will open his eyes

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    Re: General Advice Needed

    They are lucky - not tied in to any deals, the cafe was set up by the land developer and included all the hardware. The original coffee was Braziliano before they moved to Landucci, which the importer in Fremantle told me was imported roasted. Regardless of where it is roasted it is oily and stale in flavour so I didnt need to ask on that score!

    Thanks for the advice so far - food for thought!

  6. #6
    Bon
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    Re: General Advice Needed

    I recently asked the owner of a restaurant here if I could have a play around on his machine, so I took my grinder, tamper + fresh beans in and pulled a few shots. I gave him a couple and having previously been to Italy, he appreciated a decent shot which made him pick up the tea towel to imitate wiping his eyes, then gave me a hug.

    You might not get as far as actually being able to get behind the machine and have a play, but if the barista seems to be worth their salt maybe dropping in some fresh beans, mention you roasted them yourself, to try might be worth a shot?

  7. #7
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    Re: General Advice Needed

    Heres a brief synopsis of how I managed to make our town have the best coffee in the NW NSW! :D

    Firstly, I will admit to having a prior relationship with the owners due to other things I have been involved with in this community, ie swimming, school etc. So I had a friendship.

    Then, when in the cafe one day when it was very busy, after having my lunch I said to the owner "You look like you need someone just behind the coffee machine." to which she replied "Yes, do you want a job?" She was serious! And so I took up the offer and introduced them to how to really use their machine properly.

    Now, people look in the window to see if I am at work and if I am, they come in for their coffee! :D

    Just another way to help the process along! ;)

  8. #8
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    Re: General Advice Needed

    lots of businesses are tied too the coffee they use through equipment/signage etc. if they have already gone down this path then its going to be a big ask to fork out 7-10gran on new equipment.

    however changeing to a different brand that offers all this stuff is easy. if the coffee is awful then there is more too it then the beans they are using. Ive played with a few commercial brands including stuff like coffico/coffex and vittoria, (I wouldnt recommend them). If made well you can get acceptable coffee (milk drinks) so before they get serious and change coffee there is probably some stuff they can do themselves.

    When I did a course at the coffee academy we were told that coffee stored in one way valve bags should keep for up to 12 months. obviously again its not fresh but should be acceptable even if it has come from italy. Illy comes from italy and it certainly doesnt taste stale when its made right.

    If the coffee tastes stale then maybe your getting coffee that was ground yesterday, on a machine that hasnt been backflushed in a while with an incorrect grind/dose. or maybe that particular brand. (ive never heard of it) is worse then anything ive ever come accross.

  9. #9
    TC
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    Re: General Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by muppet_man67 link=1165536793/0#7 date=1165925798
    lots of businesses are tied too the coffee they use through equipment/signage etc. if they have already gone down this path then its going to be a big ask to fork out 7-10gran on new equipment.

    however changeing to a different brand that offers all this stuff is easy. if the coffee is awful then there is more too it then the beans they are using. Ive played with a few commercial brands including stuff like coffico/coffex and vittoria, (I wouldnt recommend them). If made well you can get acceptable coffee (milk drinks) so before they get serious and change coffee there is probably some stuff they can do themselves.

    When I did a course at the coffee academy we were told that coffee stored in one way valve bags should keep for up to 12 months. obviously again its not fresh but should be acceptable even if it has come from italy. Illy comes from italy and it certainly doesnt taste stale when its made right.

    If the coffee tastes stale then maybe your getting coffee that was ground yesterday, on a machine that hasnt been backflushed in a while with an incorrect grind/dose. or maybe *that particular brand. (ive never heard of it) is worse then anything ive ever come accross.
    I disagree- even though lost of the imports are well packaged, they are all stale...I tried some within date Map once...at 3 years old....It was as dead as a doornail.... ::)

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    Re: General Advice Needed

    Although "stale beans" to anyone who knows better are YUCK! many customers dont know what a good coffee should taste like.

    From the "baristas" point of view- using stale beans makes for an easier life - once they are stale they dont change- and neither will the grinder settings.

    When I started using vacuum sealed bags of beans I never touched the grinder setting, moved up to locally roasted - probably 1-2 weeks old by the time I got them- had to change the grinder from time to time.
    Now with home roasted- and 3 day aged- Im changing the grinder several times a day to track the beans....

    Using the oft used "MacDonalds" approach to food/beverage sales - constancy rather than quality.... if the punters dont know any better.... then why give yourself extra work for no gain?.....

    And then there are the vast numbers of cafes locked into contracts using stale beans - with impressive brand signage.... kind of creates a normal expectation of what a coffee should taste like, and what brand a "good" cafe should be using.....

    So for many cafes Im afraid it probably is a case of "Why buck the system" :-/

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    Re: General Advice Needed

    When I did a course at the coffee academy we were told that coffee stored in one way valve bags should keep for up to 12 months. obviously again its not fresh but should be acceptable even if it has come from italy. Illy comes from italy and it certainly doesnt taste stale when its made right.

    If the coffee tastes stale then maybe your getting coffee that was ground yesterday, on a machine that hasnt been backflushed in a while with an incorrect grind/dose. or maybe that particular brand. (ive never heard of it) is worse then anything ive ever come accross.
    My experience is that this is complete and absolute BS. Even well made stale coffee tastes stale, and well made Illy is no exception. People keep on saying that this isnt true, and I keep on trying it, only to have my opinion reaffirmed.

    When I get a chance, Ill grab a copy of Jill Adams book, because I find it very difficult to believe that she would say that coffee in valve bags lasts anywhere near that long.

    In any case, arguing about this whole freshness thing is completely and totally not worth doing. Its as simple as buying a bag of 12 month old valve bagged coffee from italy and running it through a machine. Im not willing to waste my money on it, though!

    Cheers,

    Luca

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    Re: General Advice Needed

    JavaB, youre right on the money.

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    Re: General Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by luca link=1165536793/0#10 date=1165929744

    My experience is that this is complete and absolute BS. Even well made stale coffee tastes stale, and well made Illy is no exception. People keep on saying that this isnt true, and I keep on trying it, only to have my opinion reaffirmed.

    When I get a chance, Ill grab a copy of Jill Adams book, because I find it very difficult to believe that she would say that coffee in valve bags lasts anywhere near that long.

    In any case, arguing about this whole freshness thing is completely and totally not worth doing. Its as simple as buying a bag of 12 month old valve bagged coffee from italy and running it through a machine. Im not willing to waste my money on it, though!

    Cheers,

    Luca

    I think one of the problems we are having here is maybe a difference in definintion. I dont dispute anything you say. what your calling stale (i think), im calling not fresh. what Im calling stale is coffee that has been left in the hopper all week, or ground yesterday. I can taste the difference between coffee straight from the bag, and coffee that has been left out. If it was already stale then by my definition leaving it out shouldnt make a difference. Jill Adams didnt run our day, it was another guy so she didnt say anything. although we did watch her video. 8-) and I think she might of popped her head in at some stage. The comment on the beans shelf life was made I guess within the parameters that the coffee academy themselves use piazza doro brand coffee and so did the company that I was doing the course with. This is what what we were being trained to use. I doubt whether they would tell people not to bother with commercial beans considering they were using them. That said we started the day roasting beans in poppers, and the merits of fresh roasting were pointed out.

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    Re: General Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by luca link=1165536793/0#11 date=1165930108
    JavaB, youre right on the money.
    x2

  15. #15
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    Re: General Advice Needed

    One of the things that you rarely see mentioned on these taste tests comparing stuff like Illy to fresh roasted beans is that the packed beans are used with-in an hour of the package being opened.

    This is a major point in these test comparisons that is very rarely stated in the article. Only by reading the fine print on the details of the test, if its even avaialble, can you discover this. After that first hour the flavors of the bean start to dramatically decrease.

    This means that while these packed beans may work fine for a cafe where theyll use that entire package in an hour such is not the case in a home setting.

    These companies have spent millions trying to perfect their packaging so-as to preserve the flavors of the coffee. Many of them have come up with a process that works very nicely. As long as the beans are used with-in an hour of the package being opened!


    Java "The devil is in the details!" phile

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    Re: General Advice Needed

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Clearly this is a very debatable topic.

    Whilst I agree there really is no substitute for freshly roasted coffee, at most cafes there is alot more to do with the barista than the bean. Close to my work there are two different cafes, one serves Illy, the other Di Bella (locally roasted). Ive had very nice cups of coffee from both, and also some pretty bad ones from both. It all comes down to the boffin behind the machine.

    Back to the original question for the thread, I would be fairly cautious about suggesting that the owner changes beans, or even trying to teach the barista a thing or two. Having worked in cafes for about 6 years while I was at uni, I know how deffensive people can get when you try to give them some helpfull advise about technique or the type of coffee used.

    Just remember that the owner chose that brand for a reason (in all likelyhood an econmic one), and unless they are really passionate about making the best coffee around, they are probably going to be pretty hard to sway.

    That said, approach him/her, test the water and take it slow. If it seems like they would accept your advice, then go for it. Just be prepared for the possible backlash.



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