Roaster's café versus their clients' cafés - Page 3

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Which is better: Roaster's cafe or their best client's cafe?

Roaster's cafe is better
25
81%
Client's cafe is better
2
6%
They're about the same
4
13%
 
Total votes: 31

User avatar
malachi

#21: Post by malachi »

ManSeekingCoffee wrote:... Dynamo Donuts is more or less on par with Four Barrel in terms of quality...
Are you exaggerating to make the point here?

But - regardless - Four Barrel is not a roaster's cafe supplying beans to Dynamo. They're both using someone else's beans.
"Taste is the only morality." -- John Ruskin

User avatar
ChadTheNomad

#22: Post by ChadTheNomad »

Interesting question. Only one place comes to mind, and it's Shades of Brown in Tulsa, OK. That's my home town. I believe they use CCC, and they can produce outstanding espresso and cappuccinos with incredible consistency.

My experience with CCC outside of Shades of Brown is only at home. I believe I can equal what they produce, albeit less consistently.

Other than that, I can't think of any. Most of the shops that I visit that are worth remembering are either the Intelligentsias of the world or they roast in-house. My first shot from the Broadway Intelligentsia location still ranks as one of the most profound espresso experiences thus far. It was like popping a bunch of liquid dried fruit in my mouth with a little chocolate. I've never been able to equal that at home, and I've never seen it equaled by others that use Black Cat.

ManSeekingCoffee

#23: Post by ManSeekingCoffee »

malachi wrote:Are you exaggerating to make the point here?

But - regardless - Four Barrel is not a roaster's cafe supplying beans to Dynamo. They're both using someone else's beans.
You're right about Four Barrel of course. Not roasting (although oh so painfully close - the roaster is moving, just not apparently roasting yet). Although, given their expertise in the field, close partnership with Stumptown, they, by all accounts should be doing Stumptown at least as good as Stumptown, and I think pretty much are. I'm not sure if this makes them a client cafe that's as good as the roaster's cafe. I actually tend to think of them as almost a branch of Stumptown right now.

But, my point was that Dynamo - based on a very limited number of tastings was as good as what I've gotten at Four Barrel. And I'm not exaggerating. This was a far from rigorous test, but was done in tandem with another well known bay area coffee blogger. I guess find this noteworthy and think that it bodes well for the point when Four Barrel does start roasting. I was a bit sloppy with my example here, but it does seem like a case where either two client cafes are as good as a roaster's cafe, a client cafe is as good as a soon to be roaster's cafe....Anyway, a lot of very good coffee where you might not expect to find it.

User avatar
malachi

#24: Post by malachi »

I am very fond of 4 Barrel and think it's far and away the best in the bay area.
But the coffee is not (yet) of the quality of what you would get at Stumptown. They don't have the consistency (yet).

Both Coffee House NW and Albina Press do incredibly well and are at least on par with Stumptown's own cafes.



I think a far more interesting question is:
are there roasters out there who are committed enough to quality that the odds of their coffee being good at places OTHER THAN their own locations?
"Taste is the only morality." -- John Ruskin

zin1953 (original poster)

#25: Post by zin1953 (original poster) »

Chris,

I presume that your question is "Are there roasters out there whose dedication and committment to quality is such that the odds of their beans producing drinks of outstanding quality at a location NOT their own is sufficiently high enough that the mere fact that a particular cafe uses the coffee from a particular roaster becomes a solid recommendation in and of itself, and is thus sufficient reason alone to visit, said cafe?"

(Yeah, I know; run-on sentence.)

I'm curious as to how a roaster would accomplish this.
  • Pre-screen the cafes? (Only those with a Synesso can use their beans?)
  • Roast foolproof/idiot-proof coffee? (Hasn't happened yet . . . )
  • Train all the baristas at every cafe that wants to use that particular roaster's beans? (And what about turnover? What about "Well, that isn't what the owner taught us"?)
I love the IDEA that "Oh, this place uses __________ coffee! It's going to be great!" could be a reliable indicator of quality, but I can't picture how it would work.

Cheers,
Jason
A morning without coffee is sleep. -- Anon.

bgn

#26: Post by bgn »

No doubt that using a famous roaster's coffee gives a shop a great marketing advantage, but any shop can ruin even the best coffee. I've tried a local shop here in vancouver twice because they use Black Cat, but will never go back because the coffee in the cup was far from special. The first thing I look for in a cafe is a special espresso machine, not the brand of coffee.

ManSeekingCoffee

#27: Post by ManSeekingCoffee »

Gosh. I've got to get back to Portland. It's been far too long!

So, I'm either not clear on the question or unsure about my facts, but I thought several Bay Area roasters tended to be sticklers about the quality of the equipment and skills of their Baristas. They want to protect their name and so they want to be sure that cafes that use their beans meet at least some minimum standard for equipment, training etc. I was talking to someone from a roaster the other day who asked about my take on a particular clients coffee - did he need to go make a quality control visit? Obviously this doesn't guarantee that vendors will be on par with the roaster but for quality (third-wavish - sorry if this term offends) roasters, there is usually a minimum standard.

King Seven

#28: Post by King Seven »

zin1953 wrote:
I love the IDEA that "Oh, this place uses __________ coffee! It's going to be great!" could be a reliable indicator of quality, but I can't picture how it would work.
It is a huge challenge, but I think it can be done. I do believe the traditional wholesale model is the wrong way of doing things if end drink quality is the roaster's goal. I haven't yet come up with a better model but I am losing a fair amount of sleep trying to change that.

As a roaster your idea is without a doubt our goal - it hasn't meant we've had to grow slowly, say No to people quite a lot, not try to supply anyone outside the city, spend a lot of time training staff and management. Roasting idiot proof coffee is pretty much out of the window though! ;) We do quite the opposite and regularly and openly change up the espresso blend to keep people on their toes. The feedback has been great, it has been an opportunity for passionate people to reasses their technique and not fall into any bad habits.

We'd like to open a cafe/roastery and retail space next year, maybe the second half (depending on how useless the pound continues to be, and other things like that) - and we'll be very much aware of putting out a "standard" against people will measure the espresso brewed in our wholesale accounts, but I think we want to use that space more for wholebean retail as well as a customer facing side the business. That said - a little competitiveness amongst local baristas on quality is no bad thing!

zin1953 (original poster)

#29: Post by zin1953 (original poster) »

Let me be clear, James -- I think ALL of the variables can be (and are) under the control of the roaster IN the roaster's own café. Obviously the roaster can select the machine, select the grinder, select the beans (duh!), and train the baristas.

But I am not sure what the quality-oriented roaster can do to control the quality of what anyone else does with their beans . . . Once "Java Joe's" buys the beans from "Hot $#!+ Roasters," what can the roaster do to ensure that the quality of their coffee beans come through in the cuppa "Joe's"???

Sure, the roaster can send someone to the café to train all the baristas on how to properly pull shots using their coffee -- although one must ask who pays for the travel expenses. But what happens when the staff inevitably turns over and new people are hired? Does the "staff trainer" fly out from the roasting company each and every time the café hires someone new?

My point is simply that, once the roaster sells their coffee, it's out of their hands. I cannot see a way for a roaster to "guarantee" that "Java Joe's" is going to serve up great espresso . . .

That's why I'm a bit surprised that, apparently, several Portland cafés are producing something better from Stumptown's coffees than Stumptown itself . . . to me, that speaks volumes not only about the quality and dedication of these other cafés, but also about Stumptown. Wouldn't you think that, if anyone understands Stumptown's coffees it would be Stumptown?

Cheers,
Jason
A morning without coffee is sleep. -- Anon.

zin1953 (original poster)

#30: Post by zin1953 (original poster) »

bgn wrote:No doubt that using a famous roaster's coffee gives a shop a great marketing advantage, but any shop can ruin even the best coffee.
Exactly! BTW, in Vancouver, I've always been a fan of Caffè Artigiano . . .
A morning without coffee is sleep. -- Anon.