These times represent a national acceptance of quality, handmade coffee. Cafes all over are rethinking the "faster is better" mentality and refusing to compromise quality for volume. From Intelligentsia's grand view of what a cafe can be, New York's Chelsea Market getting a visit from an espresso machine manufacturer, and a passionate barista in Seattle putting his foot down, things are heating up this summer for coffee nationwide.
Intelligentsia's New Coffee Concept
Over in sunny California industry leaders Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea will introduce a new coffee concept. This new concept located in Pasadena will be significantly different from their other cafes. While they will be staying true to their coffee ideals, Intelligentsia will also offer craft beer, a limited selection of wines, and a food program. This new concept seems to suggest that Intelligentsia has found a need for a community oriented cafe that addresses needs to a neighborhood left out by a strictly coffee-focused program.
Bound to quality with an industry looking with all eyes, what happens with this new cafe may alter how shops are currently running their programs. I think this concept will be a huge success and may become a staple of smaller inner city communities needing more than just great coffee. Intelligentsia are just the guys to jump start this concept.
'Out of the Box' Event from La Marzocco in NYC
Florence-based handmade espresso machine company La Marzocco is about to host its first American version of the highly acclaimed "Out of the Box" event. This event has previously been held in Sweden and La Marzocco's native Italy, but will be coming stateside on June 9 and 10 at New York City's Chelsea Market. It was designed to bring new espresso machine technology and put it in the hands of those who use their machines the most: cafe owners and baristas.
This unique opportunity is the kind of forward thinking mentality all service-based manufacturers can take guidance from. La Marzocco has decided to go on the road and find out firsthand how people are using their products. If you're in the New York City area, we suggest making a trip to Chelsea Market for the event next week to meet the staff and the passionate people making your pick-me-up.
A Barista Against the Barista Guild of America
Over in the Pacific Northwest, a young and highly passionate barista, Alex Negranza, has shaken the barista community a bit with his no holds barred assessment of the Barista Guild of America (BGA). Alex's exposé is fired at the BGA for trying to recruit members but not being active enough nor promoting a barista community in his current city of Seattle, one of the most barista-populated cities in the country. While some may say it's a little bit jabby in context, the pure love of his craft and dedication to community is worth seeing what this man has to offer to the coffee community as a whole.
My take? The BGA is a group of dedicated baristas just like Alex, and it's a tough, payless job. I'm sure that the higher-ups in the BGA just need a few more guys like Alex encouraging them to create some social relevance for baristas nationally. Similar to bartenders, I could see the BGA helping increase the standards of cafes and at the same time mold this coffee position to one of higher pedigree, and potentially find ways to increase wages at the same time.
We need more people like Alex in this world if growth of a intricate craft is at stake. The BGA isn't perfect and his post makes me want to stand up and do something about it.
About the author: David Buehrer a.k.a. Greenway Barista has been a barista since his high school days in Houston, Texas. After taking a few coffee-oriented trips to Seattle, Los Angeles, Vancouver, and New York City, David began to learn about the science behind the bean. Former HoustonPress.com coffee and food reviewer, owner-barista of Greenway Coffee and Tea in Houston, and resident barista of Anvil Bar and Refuge. Part cocktail nerd, part food dork, part coffee geek, all passion.
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