Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pig's Head at Spro

The Towering Infernal

Drip, drip, drip - forty per minute.

We've installed a new method for brewing iced coffee at The Spro. It's been operational for a couple of weeks now and the response has been tremendous.

Since The Spro is located in a suburban library, lots of people pass by on a daily basis - many of whom don't pay much attention to the little espresso bar in the library. The expectation is that this little place couldn't be very exciting or provide very good coffee. We're a bit under the radar. A place for those "in the know."

As a barista, I'm always thinking about better ways to engage the average customer (or potential customer). How do we get these passerbys to take an interest in what we are doing? How to de engage our current customers and show them a continually improving level of excitement?

Down the distillation tube.

Over the past few weeks, we've been incorporating new coffee services to our daily line-up. I've been busy developing standards and teaching them to our baristas. New approaches to tea brewing, cold tea brewing, vacuum pots and now, iced coffee.

In many shops, iced coffee takes a back seat. A cursory thought that is quickly dismissed. At The Spro, we've always adapted Japanese iced coffee brewing techniques that produce a smooth and mellow flavor for iced coffees, but for about two years now, I've wanted to kick it up a notch or two.

Arianna watches - for twelve hours.

In comes the Brew Tower. A glorious tower of wood and glass that is a paean to all things coffee. It's presence is striking. You can't miss it. Combined with the glow from the vac pot burner and the people can't get enough. They stop. They stare. They want to know what it is. They ask questions. Suddenly, we've gone from total strangers to a bridge to engage the public. It's beautiful. Seemingly overnight, we've been able to add a whole new roster of potential clients to our repertoire. What better way to nurture the public than by engaging them in conversation?

Things are just kicking off with the brew tower, and I believe we're one of the very few shops in America currently using such a gadget. This model is a decent unit to educate ourselves, but the true piece de resistance is the version from Hario. Maybe this summer...

The Tower soars mightily over the La Marzocco.