Category Archives: Coffee Shops

10 Things to Do in an Independent Coffee Shop on #IndieCoffeeShopDay

It’s here! It’s here! It’s Indie Coffee Shop Day 2019! Time to visit your favorite independent coffee shop and support your local business owners and local economy.

The Bridge Cafe 04If you’re wondering what you can do while you’re at an independent coffee shop, here are 10 things you can do while you enjoy a hand-crafted beverage.

  1. Visit with a friend.
  2. Sit silently and ruminate on the wonders of life.
  3. Write in a notebook.
  4. Read a book.
  5. Write a book.
  6. Plan your visit for Record Store Day tomorrow.
  7. Get pissed and grouse about how they moved Record Store Day to last week, and you didn’t hear about it because you were on the road. (Am I the only one who did this? Really? Just me? Okay, then.)
  8. Get some work done.
  9. Pretend you’re getting some work done. (We all know you’re cruising Facebook.)
  10. Seriously, no one thought to tell me about Record Store Day? I was really looking forward to it!

The Bridge Cafe — Upland, IN

You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.

Do you believe in love at first sight? Can you fall in love with a coffee shop?

I hope so, because I have a new coffee shop love: The Bridge Cafe in Upland, Indiana, about an hour between Fort Wayne and Indianapolis, right there on State Road 22. It’s just a few minutes north of Taylor University, the small private Christian college in Grant County. It’s about 30 minutes away from where I grew up in Muncie, Indiana.

The Bridge Cafe 01

I returned to Indiana for a small speaking tour, visiting Evansville (and Honey Moon Coffee), Indianapolis (Hubbard & Cravens), Muncie (The Cup), and now Upland and this place.

I believe a man or woman can have many loves in their life, at least when it comes to coffee shops. I love Hubbard & Cravens because it’s where I first learned about the coffee culture. I love Vespr coffee because the baristas have become friends. I love Bee Coffee Roasters because I’m convinced BJ Davis knows more about coffee than anyone in Indianapolis.

And now I love The Bridge Cafe because it’s a small shop in a small town that is quintessentially Indiana. I grew up in Indiana, it’s where my heart lies, and I am pulled northward every couple years to visit and recharge.

The Bridge Cafe 02I found the place on a quintessentially Indiana spring day — it’s gray and a bit rainy, the wind is blowing from the west — and I’m flooded with waves of nostalgia. I had breakfast here, and when I had a few free hours in the day, I came back to sit and soak in it.

The coffee is great, and I’m on my second latte. They serve tea, pastries, and even breakfast and lunch. I met Cathy, the owner, and we talked social media marketing for a little while, and how they’re attracting college students by Instagramming photos of their food, and they sell care packages to Taylor students during finals week, or sharing photos of their play area on Pinterest to bring in the moms with young kids.

The Bridge Cafe 04

Upland is most known for Ivanhoe’s Drive-In, an Indiana landmark when it comes to ice cream, milkshakes, and sundaes. The Bridge is within walking distance of Ivanhoe’s, and it’s about 5 minutes from I-69.

Look, I know there’s a Starbucks right off the Interstate, but if you want some good coffee and want to support an independent coffee shop, take just five minutes — five minutes! — on your next road trip to come over here. Take exit 259, and turn east. Follow the road around the curve, and keep an eye out for The Bridge Cafe, next to the McClure’s gas station. It’s literally five minutes away.

When you’re trying to make good time, focus more on the good than on the time, and swing by The Bridge Cafe for some of the best coffee in this little corner of the world.

The Bridge Cafe 03

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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Coffee Shop Etiquette: Vespr Coffeebar’s “Sit & Sip” Policy

Coffee shops have worked hard to become that “third place” — that place where you go when you’re not at work and not at home. And there’s nothing better than walking into your favorite indie coffee shop and finding an empty seat. Better yet, a seat at your favorite table. Right under the vent, near an electrical outlet, the perfect distance from the speakers.

And so you plan on staying for several hours, enjoying your favorite spot, getting some work or studying done, visiting friends, and basking in the glory of having the best seat all to yourself.

Except Emily Post and coffee shop etiquette tell us that this is simply not done. There are rules — well, unwritten rough guidelines — that tell us how long you can stay at that table.

Meaning you can’t just buy a $2 cup of coffee and camp there for the next eight hours. That loses a lot of money for the coffee shop owner.

That is, if the owner could get two people sitting at that table every hour, and each of them spent $5, that’s worth $120 in a 12-hour day. Even if one person sat there and spent $5 per hour, that’s still $60. But if you sit there for 8 hours at $2, they only made $.25 per hour on that same table.

Do you see the problem?

It’s not that the owner doesn’t want you there. It’s that they have a business to run, which they can’t do on $.25 per hour. And it’s unfair if you’re taking up a seat or even a whole table, and someone else who’s going to come in and spend $5 – $10 can’t because they can’t find a place to sit.

Vespr 02 - Edd SiuEdd Siu, owner of Vespr Coffeebar in Orlando, Florida, has created a “sit and sip” policy where people who hang out at the shop should buy something. Even if it is a $2 coffee, or a $5 latte, or an avocado toast. If you want to take up space, you need to buy something.

Additionally, coffee shop etiquette says we should buy something every so often as a way to “renew” our table.

But how often should you make another purchase?

“I’ve heard every 45 minutes, every hour, every two hours,” said Siu. “It depends on the person and it’s up to them to judge for themselves and what they can afford to do.”

Your spending habits are a judgment call about your own circumstances and your finances. Don’t overspend if you can’t afford it, but don’t overstay your welcome either. If you see that the place is slammed, and you’re still nursing a cold cup of tea three hours later, come back again tomorrow.

At the very least, offer to split your table and make room for a stranger. Invite someone new to sit with you. That way the shop is making a little more money on your table, even if it’s not going to be from you at that moment.

But don’t feel bad if you can only spend $2 per visit, even if you come back every day for such a “small” amount.

“That still adds up and helps our bottom line,” said Siu. “Besides, they’re our regulars, and we love the people who come to us again. That’s a humble place for us to be in because it means they see us as a place to make their second home.”

So remember, as we get closer to #IndieCoffeeShopDay on April 19, support your local coffee shops, but remember to either buy something every 45 minutes to 2 hours and try to spend a few bucks each time. That helps ensure that your favorite coffee shop will be there in the years to come.

Cattle Dog Coffee Roasters – Citrus County, FL

Special article by a fellow Writers Of Central Florida Or Thereabouts writer, Diane Dobry.

Living in Citrus County, if I didn’t get my coffee from a diner or family restaurant, Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s would have been the most likely stops for anything besides a basic coffee to-go. Starbucks was not on the map, so finding anything like a latte, espresso or cold brew was not easy.

Cattle Dog Coffee 01.jpgDiscovering Cattle Dog Coffee Roasters there was like finding Shangri-La.

Not only was there a sophisticated selection of coffees and teas — more than 30 flavors of fresh roasted coffee, as well as cappuccino, espresso, loose leaf teas, and cold brew as well as custom flavors for decaf lovers — but they have a coffee roaster onsite and will roast coffee to customers’ specifications to bring home.

And unlike Starbucks, there is a creative menu of breakfast and brunch items, sandwiches, bakery items — including a small variety of bagels — as well as salads, burgers, and even lobster rolls and omelets with vegetarian and gluten-free options.

Review sites as well as their Facebook page show fans from around the country who have discovered this delightful high-end, gourmet eatery, that not only cares enough about coffee brewing to teach readers of their website on the process of roasting coffee beans and making coffee, they take the coffee shop model up several notches to also satisfy the cravings of foodies in Citrus with their truly unique menu.

Just a sample of breakfasts include steak and eggs, lobster omelets, braised pot roast breakfast flatbread, and a Twisted Monte Cristo that includes eggs, honey ham and strawberry habanero jam on 3 slices of Texas cut French toast. And of course they serve the millennial breakfast staple—avocado toast.

Cattle Dog Coffee 02.jpgThe owners are passionate about coffee, and food. They even will cater your breakfast event or prepare boxed lunches.

So if you’re heading out to the west coast of Florida to see the manatees, do some hiking, ride a horse trail, camp out in Withlacoochee State Forest, or bike along the 46-mile paved Withlacoochee State Trail, fuel your hunger and caffeine cravings at a top-of-the-line coffee house and eatery.

Orlando Indie Coffee Shops

I created a Google Map of independent coffee shops around Central Florida.

These are fairly easy to create for your own city. Find coffee shops in your local city, save them to a particular map and make sure you only find locally-owned or non-Big Chain Coffee shops. No gas stations, no restaurants that serve coffee. Cafes, coffee shops, and bistros are ideal. If a company owns more than one shop, that’s okay. We just don’t want large corporations that have thousands of shops around the world.

If you make your own map, let me know, and I’ll be happy to embed it here.

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Indy Indie Coffee Shops

Several years ago, I created a Google Map for Indianapolis Indie Coffee Shops. I even purchased the domain, IndyIndieCoffee.com. I haven’t contributed to it in a couple of years, so if you know of any shops that have opened or closed, please let me know. Better yet, if you live in the Indianapolis area, and would like to become the editor of this map, let me know. I’d be happy to set you up with this.

These are fairly easy to create for your own city. Find coffee shops in your local city, save them to a particular map and make sure you only find locally-owned or non-Big Chain Coffee shops. No gas stations, no restaurants that serve coffee. Cafes, coffee shops, and bistros are ideal. If a company owns more than one shop, that’s okay. We just don’t want large corporations that have thousands of shops around the world.

If you make your own map, let me know, and I’ll be happy to embed it here.

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Coffee Shop Stories: Lulu’s Coffee and Bakehouse

As part of Indie Coffee Shop Day, we’re inviting independent coffee houses from around the country to send in their story and a little note about themselves. Our very first entry is Lulu’s Coffee and Bakehouse on the northwest side of Indianapolis.

My husband and I purchased Lulu’s Electric Cafe about 11 years ago. We had operated a deli and catering company for five years, and thought a coffee shop and bakery would partner well with it. We moved just a few blocks west a little over two years ago, renamed it Lulu’s Coffee and Bakehouse, and changed the menu up a bit.

We now have a comfortable, third place hang out with lots of food and beverage options. It is a beautiful, cozy, and welcoming facility. We were food specialists when we purchased Lulu’s initially, and the food menu grew. However, the coffee didn’t.

We have been researching and educating ourselves over the last several years to move into the third wave of coffee. The Indy Coffee Association, Coffee Fest, and Caffeine Crawl have all been great resources. We offer a full espresso bar with all the common drink choices, breakfast options, a full lunch menu, grandma’s pies, even tea parties for 2.

Some of our signature drinks include: a delicious Traditional Italian Cappuccino. It is 3oz of Espresso and 3oz of deliciously sweet steamed milk, our Iced Toddy Coffee, and our Loose Leaf Teas. You can now expect latte art on all hot drinks. This is incredibly important, because you can only produce art with quality steamed milk.

We are also, one of the only shops in town that offer multi midwest roasters. We buy beans from multiple roasters here in Indy, as well as, Louisville, Illinois, and Michigan. We currently offer these coffees in whole bean sales, and as a single extraction from an Aeropress. We will soon be offering up a Clever Dripper brew method as well. We will be rolling out our summer drinks in the next couple of weeks.

If you have any questions or need any more info just let us know. You can also check out www.facebook.com/luluscoffee and www.luluscandb.com. We are extremely active on Facebook.

Steve and Tiffany
Lulu’s Coffee +Bakehouse
2292 West 86th St.
Indianapolis, IN 46260

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Six Commandments for Indie Coffee Shop Customers

Independent coffee shops are a great place for entre-commuters — small business owners who work out of a briefcase wherever they can find free wifi — to get work done, conduct meetings, or just a place to sit and relax. However, many coffee shops are growing tired of the tech homeless because they take up space without ordering anything.

Here are the six commandments of coffee shops everywhere (not just the indies).

1. Buy something every 2 hours

That's my No Bullshit Social Media co-author, Jason Falls, at Hubbard & Cravens, 6229 Carrollton, Indianapolis, IN.

That’s my No Bullshit Social Media co-author, Jason Falls (left), at Hubbard & Cravens, 6229 Carrollton, Indianapolis, IN. Note the single person taking up the 4-top to his right.

Some coffee shops are limiting their wifi because people are taking up valuable space for several hours after only buying a $2 cup of coffee. THIS IS NOT YOUR MOM’S HOUSE! DON’T PARK THERE ALL DAY! Every hour that ticks by without you buying something eats into that business’ profitability. If they don’t make money, they can’t stay open.

You need to buy something every hour or two, and it needs to cost more than a couple dollars. Get a latte, get a muffin, get a sandwich. If you can’t afford it, then work from home or your local library. While a coffee shop is a nice home-away-from-home, it’s not your second home. Get up and give someone else a chance.

2. Better yet, limit your visit to half your battery life.

Other coffee shops, like Gorilla Coffee in Brooklyn, are covering up their outlets to reduce the number of people sucking up their electricity. Forgetting that it’s actually better for your laptop to run on battery power, rather than always being plugged in, keep in mind that it does cost the coffee shop money to power up our laptops all day long.

You can help save their electricity costs, as well as limit your time there, if you work without your power cable and then pack up and leave after you’ve gone through half your battery life.

3. Don’t turn rectangular tables into desks

Some coffee houses have rectangular 2-top tables, which often turn into solo seating for the tech squatters, which means these same coffee houses will sometimes fill up to exactly half their capacity. I’ve seen people walk into coffee shops and leave again because every table was taken by people working alone. Next time that happens, take a risk and invite someone to sit with you. Tell them you’d be happy to share the space with them, have a conversation for just a couple minutes, and then get back to work.

It’s worse when people turn these 2-top tables 90 degrees and make them their own personal desk space. Not only is it inconsiderate, it ruins the sense of community the coffee shop is hoping to create. These 2-top tables are ideally there for you and a friend to share a conversation. They’re not a desk for you to spread out all your textbooks or TPS reports. If you can’t limit your footprint to half the table, work at home or your local (or school) library.

4. Don’t take up a 4-top by yourself

A coffee shop is a restaurant, and they make money by squeezing in as many customers as they can, which means they want to maximize their table space. Just like some restaurants don’t like seating two people at a 4-top (a table with 4 chairs), coffee shops don’t like to have one person occupy an entire 4-top.

Understandably there are times where it can’t be helped. Maybe every 2-top is taken up, and the 4-top is the only one available, so go ahead and sit down. But be considerate and move when a 2-top frees up. Otherwise you may end up costing the coffee shop a 3- or 4-person order because those people didn’t feel like they had a place to sit.

5. Offer your table to someone who’s been waiting

When a coffee shop gets crowded, it’s usually a mad scramble to grab the next free table. The problem is, someone who’s been waiting for several minutes may get screwed out of a table by the guy who just showed up two minutes ago.

If the place is crowded and you’re leaving, catch the attention of the person who’s been waiting the longest and offer them your table. Don’t clear out until they’ve staked their claim.

6. Watch your neighbor’s stuff

At most coffee shops I visit, the veterans don’t need to ask someone to watch their stuff. We all do it for each other. We know not to let a stranger grab their computer or their purse. So I always smile a little when someone asks if I’ll watch their gear while they run to the bathroom.

Of course I will! That’s part of the indie coffee shop community; that’s just what we do. I may be a little spoiled, however, since we typically don’t have roving bands of hoodlums bursting into our shop and grabbing every unattended laptop they can find. Even so, keep an eye on your neighbor’s stuff, even if they don’t ask. It’s just a common courtesy.

 

What other expectations do you have for yourself in your favorite coffee shop? What coffee house sins do you silently judge others for? Share them in the comments.

 

Photo credit: Erik Deckers (used with permission)