It’s the Little Things

June 7, 2010

The difference between good and great is often measured by the care and attention we pay to the little things. We could serve good coffee at Echo Coffee, but we want to serve great coffee. So we start with very high quality green coffee, take care to roast each batch to perfection, brew each cup individually, and serve it at it’s freshest point. Each of these steps individually help make a good cup of coffee, but together make it great.

Over the last few days, our Scottsdale shop suffered from periodic losses in power. Initially I thought APS might be having supply problems as a result of the sudden spike in temperatures. But as the problem turned chronic I began to suspect something other than power supply from APS was to blame. After a nearly hour long power outage Sunday night, I placed a call to my electrical contractor and they had someone out first thing Monday morning. He didn’t find anything wrong and suggested APS may be able to help.

I called APS and they had someone out by 10:30am (in less than 2 hrs), which amazed me. The APS guy immediately witnessed a micro outage (the lights blinked off and on) when he arrived, which was convenient, if not good for equipment or business. Fifteen minutes later a second outage was “heard” at the main service panel for the building, which indicated some type of faulty connection, as you should never hear electricity traveling along a wire.  At this point, we didn’t know what was wrong, but we certainly had APS’ attention.

The troubleshooter from APS checked numerous connections at the main panel to the building as well as the transformer outside the building, looking for any faulty wiring.  His assessment was that there was a problem, which an electrical contractor should look at it.  He also suggested that the contractor would need APS to turn off the power at the transformer to diagnose and repair the problem.

I was immediately alarmed.  APS suggested the contractor and the contractor suggested APS.  How would I get APS and an electrical contractor there at the same time?  Then the best news to that point in the morning: the troubleshooter from APS said he would wait until a contractor could arrive.  WOW!  What customer service.

Another call to my electrical contractor was able to get him back to the shop within an hour.  Shortly after he arrived, a second troubleshooter from APS arrived to help the first guy.  Now we had three experienced guys working on the troubling power at Echo Coffee.  Of course, by this time the power was almost completely out within the shop.  The AC had been non-functional for almost an hour, and we still didn’t know exactly what the problem was.  We were unable to make any espresso based drinks, it was 85 degrees inside the shop, and still happy customers came in to the shop, and with smiles continued to support us.  Once again, I’m amazed at the support we receive from the community.  Thank you.

With more of the house service panel disassembled, the guys identified what appeared to be a loose bolt used to connect and transfer power between the 3 bays of the electrical service panel.

It’s difficult to see in this this image, but in the shadow is a bolt and washer identical to the one in the foreground.  That bolt was loose, which resulted in the power loss whenever we started to put a higher load on the system (ie, it’s hot outside, and we need the AC running).

APS turned off the power to the building and the electrical contractor tightened up the bolt.  Alas, power was restored around 12:30pm.  The installation for this equipment was neither the responsibility of APS, nor my electrical contractor, but rather my landlord’s electrical contractor.  It was installed nearly 2 years ago, but with the building sitting empty, and no load on the system, the loose bolt had yet to manifest as a problem.

In this case, the littlest thing was a single loose bolt, and it was potentially ruining my business.

Fortunately, the right people worked together and fixed a small problem that was having a huge impact.  With the bolt tightened, power was restored, and almost 24 hours later, we have yet to have any further power outages.  It’s 75 degrees inside Echo Coffee, and all of the equipment is pulling shots, making coffee, and baking fresh food just as it should be.

So I’m reminded once again, that to be great, we always need to focus on the little things.  A minor grind adjustment can mean the difference between an under-extracted, thin shot of espresso or a great, rich, full shot of espresso.  It doesn’t matter how good the coffee is at origin, how well it was roasted, how perfectly it was tamped, or how stable the brew temperature is, if the grind is out of adjustment, the shot will be bad.  And so it is that we will continue to focus on each of the little things that added together, will help to make us be great.

Lastly, and most importantly, if you happened into Echo Coffee over the last few days, and stuck with us through a less than great experience, thank you very much.  We sincerely appreciate it.


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