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exclamation-circle Our first popular coffee house poll

  • colin
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10 years 9 months ago #3235 by colin
I have been getting a reaction to our 1st annual local coffee house poll that is nothing short of staggering.

Ok. The numbers are pouring in... but what does it all mean. If you have been participating in this \"favorite coffee house poll\", please offer the readership some insight on what makes a really great cafe... or your favorite cafe.

For me it is combination of comfort, quality and general vibe. Feeling welcome is important. Feeling the passion of the owners and staff is also critical. Nothing disqualifies a cafe for me faster than a general dustiness and disinterested staff/owners.

Comments please.

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  • mengels
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10 years 9 months ago #3236 by mengels
Replied by mengels on topic Our first popular coffee house poll
My second attempt may not be as wordy as the one that disappeared!

My pet peeve with the whole exercise is that it has become a competition of marketing styles that have little, or nothing, to do with quality and people's honest opinion. Their drive to vote has been influenced beyond their own passion for a place. I would suggest that to make it \"worthwhile\" as well as fun (it is now), we might want to consider the following:

Develop a rating system - it can still be subjective. Just be consistent in applying it to each establishment.

Colin suggested some aspects of such a guideline... perhaps we can expand on it. Similarly to a barista competition, the value of such a poll will stand up in the light of some objectivity and true comparisons.

A number of things strike me as I get acquainted with a cafe. Each one helps determine my internalized rating:
1. What is my reaction to the physical plant - colours, cleanliness, appeal of the overall atmosphere, furniture, etc.
2. Am I greeted genuinely, do I feel welcome or am I being aggressively \"sold\" as I approach the counter.
3. Does the place smell good (very important).
4. Do the baristas aim to please, or do they aim to \"educate\".
5. Is there a sense that the focus is on the almighty dollar, or do you feel like you would like to be a part of the cafe community.
6. Is there pleasant banter going on around you; are staff having a good time.
7. Is the music overbearing.
8. Now. How is the coffee.
9. Are the food and sweets at least as good as the coffee.
10. Do you want to tell others about this place and do you want to come back.

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  • colin
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10 years 9 months ago #3237 by colin
Replied by colin on topic Our first popular coffee house poll
mengels wrote:

1. What is my reaction to the physical plant - colours, cleanliness, appeal of the overall atmosphere, furniture, etc.
2. Am I greeted genuinely, do I feel welcome or am I being aggressively \"sold\" as I approach the counter.
3. Does the place smell good (very important).
4. Do the baristas aim to please, or do they aim to \"educate\".
5. Is there a sense that the focus is on the almighty dollar, or do you feel like you would like to be a part of the cafe community.
6. Is there pleasant banter going on around you; are staff having a good time.
7. Is the music overbearing.
8. Now. How is the coffee.
9. Are the food and sweets at least as good as the coffee.
10. Do you want to tell others about this place and do you want to come back.


I totally agree with Mark here. There are a couple of things that put me off a cafe right away:

1.) Clutter, untidiness, un-bussed tables and a general air of chaos.
2.) Feeling even a little welcome by the staff is good - they do not even need to smile. A gnat sized portion of happiness should suffice. Arrogance or disinterest is a turn-off.
3.) Smell. Totally important. Off all the cafes in our current poll, there are about 6 of them that scream WE SERVE GREAT COFFEE... the others... not so much. If I smell grease or off odors, I am out of there.
4.) Does the place fit into the community? Fit is the operative word here. No fit... No sit!
5.) Is the coffee good, really good? And the food should not be an afterthought, sourced out by the cafe and abused prior to being served. A stale piece of cake or 2-day old muffins should never be sold - period!
6.) Will I want to be part of the word-of-mouth promotion of this cafe?

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  • dave_c
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10 years 9 months ago #3238 by dave_c
Replied by dave_c on topic Our first popular coffee house poll
I think Mark's and Colin's comments are both obviously valuable but illustrate the difficulty in truly assessing the \"best\" cafe. Mark's ideas for evaluating a shop are undeniably true, yet illustrate his own bias and values in what he feels make a great shop. This is clearly reflected in the fact that his own locations excel in each one of those categories. By contrast, take a more \"pure\" (I use that term loosely) coffeehouse such as Habit where they appear to place a low priority on food and probably have never considered smell (not that their shop doesn't smell fabulous), but instead have focussed on barista training, sourcing ethical beans (being a part of a global community), education, and being \"hip\" (I'm only guessing as I do not work there). By further contrast, take the Black Stilt where the priorities shift again a little closer to Mark's (but still distinctly different) with high quality coffee and food, comfortable ambiance, a strong report with regulars, prompt service and a significant integration with the local community.

Each one of these cafes could all be labeled best overall cafe in Victoria in my opinion, but to limit judgement to specific categories could leave great cafes out of consideration. While I think the existing voting system is flawed in a way (encourages self-promotion), I think it is better than a more detailed alternative which promotes bias and could inherently favour a specific type of cafe.

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  • mengels
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10 years 9 months ago #3239 by mengels
Replied by mengels on topic Our first popular coffee house poll
hmmm... do I know \"Dave_C\"?!

In any case, we can all see the point(s). Habit is \"Stumptown-cool\" and the focus is different in some ways. Still we all want to do our best and I think that training is paramount, as well as overall vision and focus.

Most places serve organic, fairly-traded beans and employ top-notch equipment. The judgement of any one spot is surely subjective no matter how \"objective\" the criteria...

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