Bloom: The One About Quality Control


Last Friday, a new Starbucks opened five minutes down the road from the coffee shop I work in and, my Lord, is it exciting.  Sort of.

Okay…kind of not.

Starbucks is one of those places that comes in kind of a mixed bag.  On the one hand, the majority of the people that work there (at least at our Starbucks. Starbucks’s. Starbuckses.) are earnest and enjoyable, people who are working there now–or have been for awhile–because they want to be around coffee, or people, or coffee people, as much as possible.  Maybe it’s because they grew up around coffee, or love coffee, or just love the mile-a-minute environment, but they’re there–they love it (I speculate) and so do the people who come in (again…speculation).

On the other hand, the coffee and the drinks that have…”coffee” in it, are–and I can’t really sugar coat it–rough.  And it’s easy to blame the people who work there–after all, they’re the ones slinging your half-filled drink across a crowded counter with the name “Nykal” written in black sharpie when, last you checked, your name was Michael.  But it isn’t entirely their fault.  Okay, the sharpie thing is, but let’s ignore that for now.

I’ve mentioned that before working in a coffee shop, I never actually enjoyed coffee.  I met up with friends and had tea or water and sat out of place around lattes and cold, slow, dripped, wrapped, slapped brews.  I didn’t mind it; coffee wasn’t my thing.  But when I started working at eCity, my perspective shifted.  I had to drink coffee for my job now. I had to understand what the difference between one dark roast and another was or what the difference between a dark and a medium was or what “body” was, what “notes” were, oh-my-God! what is “weighty”? “Earthy?”

I had to know.

So I drank every roast we had on when I came in, especially if I’d never had it before.  I took a warm mug from the top of our espresso machine, pumped out a roast, walked back around the counter and took my seat.  No cream. No sugar. Nothing. Just black coffee.

Coffee black

And at first, I hated it.  I would take a sip, force it down, dump the rest in a sink nearby, and wallow as the brown water sat still in every crevice of my throat. But–and this speaks to the shop I work in–this was the best place to do that.

eCity roasts its coffee weekly.  We have 12-14 different dark and medium roasts, an espresso, a decaf, flavor roasts out the butt, and each one is as unique as the one right beside it, all of them, better, gloriously so, than anything at say, Starbucks.

Before too long, I went from finishing half a mug, to a full mug, to voluntarily drinking coffee because “whaaaaaat? I actually like coffee now,” and I’ve watched others, since I started that way, make that short trip from hating to praising, themselves.

Now, you could argue why these things happened in a way that had nothing to do with the coffee.  I started drinking coffee because my girlfriend drank coffee, because she worked in this coffee shop, and because I love her and have to do things because of that…right? But starting to do something and following through with it to an end of some sort are two different things.

eCity’s coffee is lovingly made; Starbucks’s’s (I can’t grasp this plurality) is not.  And saying that isn’t to pick on Starbucks, but to wrap up a point I mentioned in my title, which is this: that there’s something important about good quality, whether it be a good quality work effort, a good quality product, a mental state that is good, or an outlook that is good, and to accept, and be okay with, something that is not good when you are in control of the output is–well, not good.

Starbucks employees are largely unable to control most of what’s wrong with the business; there’re bad baristas there and not there, irregardless of the product at use, but there’s something to be said about something that’s made or done or thought of carefully, that’s lovingly poured into every moment, uniquely, and that’s what I love about here.

That’s what I love about the local scene.


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