25 June 2009

whoah hey hello

Hi! Last time I saw you here ... well, a lot has happened.

We had the Preview Party, which was surreal. A line around the block for the opening of a coffee bar. Actually. Then, the building had some inspections to pass, which was ... time-consuming & hard for everyone, probably least of all for us trainees (& most of all for, say, Mass Architecture, the technical specialists Nick & Paul & Jim, the construction crews, & of course Tim & Kyle & Doug). Nicely & I got caught out by Doug Zell having "happy hour" beers after an early-morning training session (ending at 3pm) ... which was embarrassing. It's just a very early hour to be so happy.


And then the real excitement began.

Not like how this is exciting — totally different. This is bad-exciting. What I'm talking about is good-exciting.
Previous to this madness, we had trained for 9 weeks. We learned about a very many aspects of the industry: History, perception (taste & smell & touch, if mouthfeel could be described as touch), language, agriculture, agronomy, botany, chemistry, physics. Why we make latté art & what it signifies. Our (written) final exam was 16 pages long, & it was completely independent of our practical exam, which (ideally) lasts 18 minutes & (not ideally) lasts less than that.

But the funny thing about training is, it doesn't matter how long you train. There's nothing like the real thing, much as dress rehearsal has some bearing on performance but it's just ... not ... performance, or how working on a draft is very different from putting Rotring to mylar. Same steps. Different*. Added to the general rehearsal-is-not-performance analogy is the fact that we're doing things differently, even from other Intelligentsia coffee bars. The process. The flow of traffic, for lack of a better word. The whole experience from the customer's point of view. Introducing the all of it, sometimes to people merely curious about an open gate, sometimes to people outright suspicious, all the while not breaking the flow in making coffee (& with a quickness) is hard to rehearse. It's an interesting challenge, & one we get better at every day.

It's also one we hope we won't have to improve upon too much; as we gain the trust of the true Venice natives, as we demonstrate this unusual new flow does indeed make a lot of sense, as we talk & brew & pour & talk & brew & talk some more & brew & pour, people will get it, in time. I know it. And much as I love talking to people (& lemme tell you, I really love talking to people), this future time I see in my head is an exciting time to think about.


* Our man Tyler referred to training as the Prologue & the actual opening of the shop as Chapter One. It's apt. More on Chapter 1 later, though. You look tired.

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