Monthly Archives: March 2019

My Favorite Coffee Shop is Moving

Big bummer for me, one of my favorite indie coffee shops, Duo 58, is moving about 1,000 miles south (okay, just 10 or so) to east Orlando.

Duo 58 next-to-last day

They’re moving because the plaza where they’re located is undergoing a major renovation, bringing in a new health food store, as well as building a smaller strip mall in front of it.

The landlord has priced the rent for their coffee shop and kitchen out of their reach, and so this nonprofit coffee shop is leaving and heading to a new location.

I can’t entirely blame the landlord. After all, it’s their building, it’s their money. I’m only sad that they’re forcing one small local business to leave so two national franchises can sprout up, hydra-like, to take its place.

Small businesses are the backbone of this economy, because nearly $.45 of every dollar spent at a locally-owned business stays in the local community, with another 9% being spent in the state. But that same dollar spent at a chain store only sees $.14 staying locally.

So our local economy suffers as the money we spend here gets sent out of the community to enrich someone else far away.

I don’t want you to stop supporting franchises, because they often have local owners and employ local people. But I don’t want you to ignore the small businesses either. Visit your favorite local restaurants, drink at your favorite local coffee shops, and shop at your local retailers. Support your local businesses and take a stand against cookie-cutter developments making our cities look identical, destroying all of their character.

Duo58 is Moving

Tipping Etiquette for Indie Coffee Shops

How much should you tip at a coffee shop? What’s the standard? Should you tip 15% – 20% of your total bill? Or should you tip $1 or more for your drink?

Iced Latte, Deeply CoffeeFirst of all, not tipping is typically not an option, unless you’re at one of the big coffee chains. They tend not to promote tipping and it’s rare to see a tip jar at one of the corporate coffee places. And if you pay by plastic, there’s not even an option to provide a tip, so you need to tip in cash.

(Plus, you should try to tip with cash rather than plastic anyway. No point in paying extra interest when you don’t have to.)

I’ve visited seven different coffee shops in the last two weeks and I’ve seen seven different forms of payment and tipping. Some are using the Clover or Square payment portals, and they offer you a screen where you can choose 15%, 18%, or 20%. Others give you dollar amount choices, $1, $2, and $3. And still other places only accept cash and won’t take plastic because we live in the 19th century; they will accept beaver pelts and chickens in trade, however.

Coffee Shop Tipping Etiquette

Let’s get this out of the way: If you visit an independent coffee shop, you should tip your barista, period, end of sentence. Tip your baristas. Tip your baristas. TIP YOUR BARISTAS!

They’re providing you a service, especially at a specialty coffee shop, and we live in a society that tips its service people. These people, as well as servers, bellhops, and delivery drivers, provided you a service, so you should tip them.

So if you don’t tip your servers and baristas, you need to eat at home. Or stick to ordering your food from a clown’s mouth.

I like the $1/$2/$3 option better than the percentage option. After all, if you’re quibbling about $.68 versus a whole $1, bite the bullet and tip the buck. The $.32 shouldn’t be a deal breaker, and if it is, then make it up to them later.

What a Real Barista Thinks About Tipping

Matt Ventura, Deeply Coffee. He gave some good insights about tipping at independent coffee shops.

Matt Ventura, Deeply Coffee

I spoke with Matt Ventura, a barista at Deeply Coffee in Downtown Orlando. He’s been a barista for five years, working in three different coffee shops. This is his full-time job, although he also runs social media for the Black Bean Deli, a local vegetarian restaurant.

“I love being a barista. It’s fun,” said Matt. “I love the interactions and I feel like I do just as much work as a bartender, except for some reason, the expectation to tip isn’t there. I’m a bartender of the day, but we get tipped less often.”

Matt prefers the $1, $2, $3 tipping screen over the percentage because the ticket sales are low. He says it’s ideal for a restaurant, where a meal price can be $10 – $15. Then the percentage option is better.

When I asked Matt what should people tip, he was nicely diplomatic about it. “There can’t be a definitive answer. Tipping is the extra value the customer feels we added to their experience.”

In other words, if you’re getting a basic coffee — or as I had, an iced latte — there’s not much to it. I’ll still leave a tip, but this is the bartender equivalent of pouring a beer. But if you get extra shots and alternative milk and all the special add-ons — half-decaf, organic soy milk steamed to 187 degrees in a pre-warmed mug, served on a satin pillow and carried by Tibetan monks whose feet have never touched concrete — and your spending as much as $6 – $8 for a drink, give them a tip.

Matt estimates that roughly 50% of the people who visit the shop actually leave a tip.

Remember, in the indie coffee shops, they’re not built like a corporate coffee place. It’s a small business and the baristas who work there take their craft seriously. They have set a high standard, and they’re constantly working to meet and exceed it. I’ve seen baristas throw away an espresso shot because it wasn’t perfect. Rather than serve a sub-standard espresso shot, they’ll dump the offending shot down the drain.

As Matt said, “We’re not just passing out stuff that’s ‘okay.’ You came in here to get something specifically crafted for you; we’re not just giving you something that’s just good enough. There’s a reason it’s called craft coffee.”

Bottom line: When you visit a coffee shop, tip your baristas. This is part of the accepted social contract in this country, and it’s the way we operate. If you don’t want to do it, no one will make you, but remember that this is how baristas (and servers, drivers, and bellhops) make their money. If you can’t spare $1 for someone who takes special care to make you a perfect cup of coffee, then stick to places where you can get coffee for $1.

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Calvin Fletcher’s Coffee Company — Indianapolis, IN

Special article by my friend and Indianapolis resident, Lisa Marchal.

Calvin Fletcher Coffee Company - Fountain SquareIt’s unoriginal to talk about how Calvin Fletcher’s Coffee Company in Indianapolis is really a place that sells community, but the triteness of the phrase doesn’t make it any less true in this case.

Close to celebrating its 10-year anniversary, this family-owned establishment serves as the heartbeat of the Fletcher Place neighborhood in which it sits.

A handmade sign proclaiming that all are welcome sets the tone, but the place really starts to show its depth when you notice the owner mingling with customers most days of the week, the manager roasting custom blends in the back, baristas crafting drinks in mismatched cupware, and neighborhood regulars mixing with business customers and one-time visitors.

Lisa Marchal, Methodist Minister, Coffee LoverThe shop’s Instagram page regularly captures both the appeal of the products offered and the shop-runners’ love of the neighborhood. The mildly famous, mildly spicy Calvin Pepper. The managers’ special mocha powder recipe. The house-made syrups. The carefully sourced beans and in-house roasting.

But it all sits second fiddle to the warmth and connection within.

Lisa Marchal