The fall-back plan develops

Apparently it’s common among grad students that you have to have a fantasy fall-back plan when the whole PhD thing doesn’t work out. You dream of the simplicity: “If I just started a restaurant, it’d be hard work, but it’d be simple. You make food, you bring it to people, they give you money.” Never mind the fact that owning a restaurant probably involves more stress and work than a PhD; remember: this is a fantasy plan.

Anyway, I’m working on two. One is a dream cafe: you can go take a nap. Then depending on what kind of dream you’d like (peaceful, interesting, exciting, scary) we can pipe in certain music/smells/etc. We could even have all sorts of tricks to help you get lucid, if you’re into that. Even better: we could study how well it works for people!

Whatever. Backup plan two is, of course, a coffee roastery and shop. I don’t know many of the details, but it’d probably involve a lot of friggin' awesome coffees, as well as a lot of wood and metal, standing desks, long hours, great music, and public cuppings (coffee tastings). (A lot of Victrola and Commonplace influences here, for sure.)

But I’ve been wondering: I’d want it to be super coffee-geeky, but I don’t want to be mean or exclusive. I know a lot of people who just want “a regular cup of coffee, dammit!” or even “a triple nonfat caramel latte blahblah”. I disagree with them, particularly the latter, but there are two good reasons to offer both of those choices:

1. People come to expect both of those options from a coffeeshop, and they’d be pretty easy to provide. Especially in the age of Google Maps and “hmm, I just want some coffee, where does my smartphone say they have coffee around here”, I’d hate people who didn’t know the store to be disappointed or confused.

2. People come to coffeeshops with friends. If your friends are coffee geeks and you’re not, I’d hate for you to feel snobbed. Furthermore, if your friends are not coffee geeks, I don’t want them to veto meeting up at my shop because I don’t serve a triple caramel blahblah.

But I still want to be coffee geeky! So, talking with another coffee geek last night, we came up with the perfect compromise. Based on the TSA, of all places, and skiing: green circle, blue square, and black diamond. Different lines and different menus. Green circle if you’re expecting Starbucks, blue square if you’re interested to learn a little more, and black diamond for coffee geeks. Green circle line and you want a triple caramel blahblah? Coming right up! Black diamond line and you want to try our finest new single origin espresso? Sure thing! Cream and sugar? If you’re in the green circle line, no problem, but don’t try that in the black diamond. You like coffee but are interested to know what makes our pour over Rwanda better than the office sludge? Blue square line, we’ll tell you all about it, no attitude.

Someday. When I quit all this computery nonsense.


Cheryl -

Love the coffee shop idea. Hope it happens someday!

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