The Craft Movement 

When something becomes popular then everyone jumps on the bandwagon.  In the food world, one word we see a lot is craft.  Usually we see it with something involving a beverage.

So is this going to be on every bag of coffee now?


Posts from the Past: Beans Over Broadway.

This was posted on back in December 20, 2011.

Do you like coffee so much it makes you break out in song? Robert Galinsky does. As a matter of fact, he sings so much about coffee he figured he’d make it a Broadway play. You can guess the name, it’s called Coffee The Musical.

The project went up on Kickstarter and raised over $50,000 back in April, 2011. The last update that I could read was in July. The update said that they were almost ready for feedback on the script. Some new coffee videos were posted. They asked for actors to audition and a few other small things. A few weeks ago in December they posted a date for a staged reading but the post is only viewable to backers and I did not donate any money. Now they have an official website and it tells me that this reading will most likely take place at the New York City Coffee & Tea Festival in February. Look for another post on that later.

From watching the video on their kickstarter page it seems that the story will center around many of the things that happen in a coffee cafe such as friendships, love, business, etc. I do not think that the coffee bean itself, will have a front seat. Much like the play Rent that centered around many of the things people do to pay their rent instead of the whole process of renting. The main song is called Hot Black Stuff and it tries to cover all of the bases of coffee-drinking but ends up sounding like a song about how people need it wake up.

So who is Robert Galinsky? He’s the founder of the New York Reality TV School. I hope I didn’t ruin the secret of reality TV for anyone. The school claims that they don’t teach you how to act in a reality TV show but instead, how to find yourself and how best to package yourself. Sounds like reality TV is nothing more than huge publicity vehicles for actors and…..oops! I did it again, ruined the secret of reality TV. Either way, I can’t find any mention of Coffee The Musical on his reality TV school website.

I’ll be posting more stuff on this show in the next few days. For now here are a few links to some websites about the musical.

Official Website

Kickstarter Page

Facebook Page

New York Times Article

I’m Golden!

Once again, I did it!  I qualified for Gold Status!

SBX_New_maintaingold_01 SBX_New_maintaingold_03 SBX_New_maintaingold_02

Sounds impressive and it was, about ten years ago.  Starbucks was one of the first companies where I bought their card that you could reload and use it like a prepaid credit card at their stores.  I used the card so much that I was eventually elevated to their gold card.  At the time the big perk was 30 minutes of free wi-fi.  Free wi-fi is so abundant in New York City now that many people don’t remember that ten years ago you had to pay to use wi-fi and it was usually capped at 10 minutes or so.  We even had these things called internet cafés.

About six months after I spent my way into the wonderful world of the elite gold card members of Starbucks, they made all of their wi-fi free and all I get now is a free drink on my birthday.  They also give us gold members free refills on coffee and a free drink after 12 stars.

Yes, I live the good life.

#10 out of 10 Things Baristas Won’t Tell You

We’ve made it to the end of this list.  According to several people in the coffee industry and the author of this article, we have a list of ten things that baristas won’t tell you.  It’s an old article from February of 2012 but I still felt like commenting on it.  I didn’t see that many changes in the coffee industry over the last three years.

10. “Be nice, or we might ‘decaf’ you!”

It’s tough to tell decaf from the real thing — and aggravated baristas have been known to retaliate against rude or condescending customers by serving them the former when they asked for regular coffee. “I’m not proud of it, but I’ve done it,” says Vogt. “People treat you like you’re dumb because you’re in the food industry.” Typically, the unsuspecting party won’t notice the difference and may even come back for more. But while “decaffing” is one thing, most baristas know better when it comes to the opposite, since swapping in caffeinated coffee for decaf can be a health risk. “You definitely don’t give someone caffeine if they ask for decaf,” says Vogt.

This one is funny to me only because I like coffee because of the taste and the caffeine part is just part of the deal.  Sometimes I wish that there was less caffeine in coffee so I could drink more without the jitters.

I worked in a golf club when I was a teenager and we did this at the end of parties.  We served regular caffeinated coffee but if the wedding band was still playing and it was getting ridiculously late, we served decaf to anyone that asked for regular coffee.   And they would ask for regular coffee so they could stay up longer!  It’s 2am and this party should have ended hours ago and this guy wants to push it another hour?!  Does he not realize that I still have to clean up this mess so it’s going to take at least an hour after he leaves before I can begin my trek home.  Serving someone decaf isn’t so terrible in my book but I suppose if it’s not what you paid for, it’s wrong.

#9 out of 10 Things Baristas Won’t Tell You

We get all the way to the end of this list of 10 things that baristas hold secret or won’t tell you and honestly only these last two are really list-worthy.

9. “We don’t always clean our equipment.”

Espresso machines are like cars — they need constant upkeep. But when baristas are caught in the 4 p.m. rush, it’s easy to let maintenance duties slide. If an espresso machine needs cleaning, you can taste it, says Scott Rao, author of The Professional Barista’s Handbook. Coffee oils can go rancid easily, and caked-on grounds can mess with water flow, he says. And “if the steam wands have a lot of old, dried milk caked on the outside or inside of the wand, that can influence the milk flavor,” Rao adds. (That spoiled milk can also be hazardous to your health.) The best way to gauge machine cleanliness, says Boni, is to taste the coffee black before adding any extras.

After reading this one I imagined all of the people who would be so disgusted and so upset at this idea but they probably have a coffee machine and/or grinder at home that has never been cleaned.

This reminds me, I should make a post about how to clean your drip machine.

#8 out of 10 Things Baristas Won’t Tell You

We’re getting close the end of the list.  Here’s one that a barista wouldn’t tell you.

8. “We’ve got a secret menu.”

Tired of the usual offerings? Most coffee shops have at least a few unlisted drinks for patrons in the know. “For some shops, there are unwritten drinks, based on popular drinks some customers may ask for,” Dominy says. Most established baristas can make off-the-list fare, he says, though managers prefer they stick to the menu. So what’s popular in the unposted coffee drink arena? The Dirty Chai, a chai latte with a shot of espresso. Another is the Espresso Panna Cotta (listed on the Starbucks website, though not in stores), an espresso topped with whipped cream, he says. And if you’re after a megadose of caffeine, order the Red Eye or Black Eye, a drip coffee plus one or two shots of espresso, respectively. At Starbucks, says Duong, one of the most popular off-menu orders is coffee served through a French press.

These secret menus exist more at local coffee shops than at the big chains like Starbucks.  I’ve seen a French press at a Starbucks occasionally but the Dirty Chai is something I’ve seen more often now.  People have figured it out and started to tell others.  If you have a local coffee café ask the barista to surprise you.  If they aren’t busy it’s fun to show off what they know.

Did you know that Starbucks even has a menu for dogs?  I know someone who gets something off of the dog menu almost every morning.

#7 out of 10 Things Baristas Won’t Tell You

I think this is the first one that fits the title.  It feels like that secret information that a barista wouldn’t tell you.

7. “You can really milk us.”

At Starbucks, extras such as soy milk or a shot of flavored syrup are offered free of charge to rewards-card holders. But sometimes these freebies come at the discretion of the server. “Most baristas would charge for an extra [espresso] shot, but things like whipped cream they wouldn’t,” says Kaitlynn Vogt, a University of Nebraska law student who spent four months working at Starbucks after college. But there are other ways to save as well. For one, you can create your own cheaper latte by asking for a double shot of espresso in a larger size cup, then pouring in milk at the condiments counter. And on a recent road trip, Vogt says she was able to get two free coffee refills after purchasing her first iced coffee earlier in the day with a prefilled Starbucks card. (Technically, paying with a Starbucks rewards card gets users free refills on brewed coffee only during the same visit at the same store, says Duong.)

I’ve heard about the poor-man’s latte before many years ago.  The free refill options don’t seem to be offered much anymore unless it’s late afternoon.  It’s funny to think that people going to Starbucks are finding ways to make cheaper versions of their espresso drinks.  Even though it hurts the company’s revenue (very slightly), it’s a compliment that people are trying.

By the way, why does a college law student that only spent four months working at a Starbucks get to chime in?  This is an article about baristas.  I think a law student who spent less than 160 days at a Starbucks does not qualify.

#6 out of 10 Things Baristas Won’t Tell You

If you are from Yahoo and you interview a barista in 2012 about things that a barista wouldn’t tell you, this is #6.

6. “You might want to stick with the coffee.”

Sure, the lemon poppy-seed scones, blueberry muffins or buttery croissants on display at your local coffee chain seem enticing — that, after all, is the idea behind those bountiful glass-counter displays. But look before you leap; they may not live up to their promise. Coffee shops don’t usually prepare their food in-house, so the offerings may not be that fresh or well-made. What’s more, they’re often high in fat, calories and sugar. Consumers may unwittingly end up snacking on, say, a 500-calorie scone. Even with chains like Starbucks revising their menu to include healthier choices, such selections are generally small in comparison with the cakes and muffins. Says Starbucks’ Duong, “All of our food is under 500 calories,” and natural flavors are used wherever possible.

I think this is more obvious than the barista thinks.  Most people don’t see ovens in the coffee house and can figure out that the food wasn’t made there but often the food is brought in daily making it quite fresh.  As for the taste, that depends on the person.  I think most people who enjoy the coffee are only getting small cookies but if you’re looking for a bigger snack or meal then you’re probably not going to the coffee house to eat.

I’ve had two experiences that were the opposite of this skip-the-food idea in #6.  Of course, I’ve also had many times where I can tell that the food options are really quite poor and I know when to skip them.

My old neighborhood coffee joint was a great place to get food and you could watch them prepare it for you. Unfortunately they closed.  One of the only coffee shops in this neighborhood.

My other good experience was in Williamsburg where I sometimes work.

#5 out of 10 Things Baristas Won’t Tell You

#5 on the list, much like #1, doesn’t fit in this article that is supposed to be about things that baristas won’t tell you.  I’m sure they would tell you this.

5. “Your Web surfing won’t pay the rent.”

Coffee shops walk a fine line between being a business and being an extension of customers’ living rooms. Since many baristas rely heavily on tips for their income, customers lingering over their lattes without adequately tipping can put a serious dent in their take-home pay. As a general rule, suggests Dominy, if you plan to settle in with your laptop, it’s best to make at least a small purchase every hour and tip accordingly. For their part, coffee shops sometimes take measures to tame loitering with subtle reminders that they’re a business: They’ll provide Wi-Fi passwords only with purchase, keep bathroom keys behind the counter or even post signs limiting table time. On the other hand, many places like to cultivate a more leisurely hangout vibe during off-peak hours, like early afternoon. For example, Ritual Coffee Roasters, a San Francisco roaster with four locations, often hosts free tastings for patrons interested in learning the differences between coffee beans.

This shouldn’t be news to most people but, unfortunately, it is news as I see people acting as though the coffee shop squat is their right as a human being.  If it’s a big chain like Caribou or Starbucks then you get the attitude that since they are a huge corporation then they can afford to have me sit here all day with one small coffee.  Then that same person complains that the small coffee is $2+ dollars.

#4 out of 10 Things Baristas Won’t Tell You

Continuing with the secret list of things a barista won’t tell you…

4. “Not all beans pack the same punch.”

Differences in coffee beans account for more than just flavor; they actually impact the milligrams of caffeine in each cup. A Starbucks 12-ounce brewed coffee, for example, contains 260 milligrams of caffeine, while the same cup from Caribou contains 230 milligrams, according to Starbucks and Caribou coffee, respectively. After a few cups, these differences can add up, says Ted Kallmyer, former barista and editor of, a site that tracks beverage caffeine content through nutrition labels, lab tests and scientific journals. Pros say they can taste it: “Lighter roasted coffee, like Central and Latin American coffee, has more caffeine,” says Dominy. Coffee companies aren’t required by law to post caffeine content; however, most do so as a courtesy to their customers, says Kallmyer.

This is some interesting information but it’s probably something a barista would tell you.  The one issue with this information is that it doesn’t really have much impact.  Most people don’t drink enough coffee to see the difference between the Starbucks 260 milligrams and the Caribou 230 milligrams.  If they did drink that much then maybe the barista should tell them about the difference.   Isn’t that one of the benefits of having a barista??

Click this link and take a quick look at the top caffeine beverages on that website  Pretty interesting stuff.  Lots of cold brew coffee is loaded with caffeine.