Ignite Phoenix Viewing Party

Ignite PhoenixFriday, June 11th, Ignite Phoenix #7 will be taking place at the Phoenix Art Museum in downtown Phoenix. The event is sold out, so if you don’t have tickets but are wishing you could attend we have an alternative for you, particularly if you are in Scottsdale: Come over to the shop and watch the live stream of Ignite Phoenix #7 at our own live stream party. The first presentation kicks off at 6pm, but you might want to get here early for a good seat.

I imagine most of you haven’t heard of Ignite Phoenix, and you may be asking, “What’s the big deal?” or “What is Ignite Phoenix?“  For many people, Ignite Phoenix is just a fun event to hang out for a few hours and potentially be inspired to try something new.  However, for me personally, Ignite Phoenix holds a special place in my passion center, because it was watching the very first Ignite Phoenix via live stream that sparked my interest in creating Echo Coffee. For more about that story check out this post on Ignite Phoenix’s site.

Suffice it to say, however, if you enjoy being inspired by the many diversified passions from people in the Phoenix area, attending or viewing an Ignite Phoenix event is probably just what you need.

See you here.

Music to My Ears

As the shop begins to settle in here in South Scottsdale, a joyful trend has begun to develop with customers that have been here a few times. After they place their order they immediately say,”For Here”. For example, “I’ll have a cappuccino, for here.” Or, “I’ll have an iced latte, for here.”

We hope that one of those reasons is the yummy 100% organic shortbread cookies you get when a hot espresso drink is for here, but we think another good reason is our Cremaware.

Cups and glasses (cremaware) at Echo CoffeeHere you can see a photo of all the cups and glasses we use for the drinks at Echo Coffee. The smallest cup is the 2 ounce demitasse for espresso and macchiato. Then there’s the 6 ounce cappuccino cup, followed by the 12 and 16 ounce latte cup. Naturally, each has a saucer. All of these cups are porcelain. For drip coffee we have the 12 and 16 ounce cups in ceramic. And finally for cold drinks we use the clear bar glasses in 16 and 20 ounce sizes.

With the number of drinks we serve “for here”, it does mean we wash a lot of dishes.  But that’s the way we prefer it, because we know that’s the way you would prefer it.  I mean, who would really want their coffee or cappuccino in a paper cup?  But for some reason, that has become the standard, not the exception.  At Echo Coffee we want to change the standard.  So the next time you stop in, we hope you have a few minutes to sit and enjoy your coffee, so that you can say, “For here”.  It’s music to my ears.

It’s the Little Things

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.

The Lunch Menu at Echo Coffee

You may not have noticed, but our entire menu is now available online.  The lunch menu is somewhat descriptive, but I thought I’d take a few words to add some information about the ingredients that make the lunch menu so fabulous.

First, the lunch menu is offered from 11am to 3pm.  Occasionally, we start lunch early, and likewise can sometimes offer things a little bit later, but our lunch menu is prepared by our chef Carylann Wootton, and when she isn’t around, the rest of us are ill prepared to duplicate her amazing skills.

Turkey and Brie sandwich at Echo CoffeeSecond, as you would expect, the items on the lunch menu are made fresh, right here at Echo Coffee.  We don’t buy pre-made sandwiches and salads from a kitchen down the road.  So of course, each sandwich or salad is made fresh to order.  We wouldn’t have it any other way.

A great sandwich naturally starts with great bread.  We sampled a number of breads from local bakeries and by far, Simply Bread was superior.  If you would like a loaf of their amazing bread, they can be found at Old Town Farmer’s Market in Scottsdale.  We use their white bread, wheat bread, focaccia, and french rolls (baguette), which they deliver to us periodically throughout the week.

The meats within our sandwiches are primarily roasted here.  Once again, we sampled standard deli meats, and were not satisfied with the flavor, so we roast our own chicken, turkey, and pork. We were able to find a great salami, pepperoni, and ham (the ham being the most difficult to find).

Asian Chicken salad at Echo CoffeeThe greens for our salad are organic, fresh mixed greens.  We also make our own croûtons and roasted almonds for the salads.

For olive oil, we once again looked to the best and are pleased to be working with Queen Creek Olive Mill.  In the US, there probably isn’t a better olive oil, and it’s right here.

We are continually looking for additional fresh, local suppliers.  If that happens to be you, or someone you know, please stop by, call, or leave a comment.

Can I Have One of Those Little Cookies?

I’ve been following the comments on Brian Clemen’s blog regarding the use of syrups in coffee drinks by baristas.  If you follow the link, you can read some of my thoughts on the matter.  Naturally, I have much more to say on the topic, but I’ll leave that for another day.  The topic did spawn for me a thought about biases by baristas and shop owners, and how those biases influence the way we act and the products we serve.

At Echo Coffee, I have attempted to install a strong bias against post-consumer waste.  Essentially, I don’t want to throw anything away I don’t have to, nor do I want you, the consumer to have to throw anything away.  If it were possible to be successful, I wouldn’t offer paper or plastic cups at all.  Every drink would be served “for here”.  Unfortunately, I don’t believe Echo Coffee can be successful with that as a mode of operation, so I’ve compromised my personal biases in favor of attempting to be successful. However, I’m not going to stop trying to encourage customers to help me limit post-consumer waste, and in doing so, I devised a fairly simple enticement:  the 100% organic, shortbread cookie.

Short bread cookie with cappuccino at Echo CoffeeIf you order an espresso based drink for here (meaning, we serve it to you in a porcelain cup, with a saucer), you’ll get as a free bonus, a small 100% organic, shortbread cookie.  If you order that same drink to go, we’ll smile, put the drink in a paper cup, and keep the cookie.

The cookies haven’t been without their own problems, however.  For about a week, we had them in a spot on the counter where they were very visible.  It made them easier for the baristas to plate them, since it’s the last step in the process, and I hoped that customers would ask about them.  However, children would see them and ask their parents for one.  At this point, we’d attempt to as politely as possible say they were not for sale by themselves.  A 4 year child doesn’t understand that, and thus the parent is disappointed, and two people would leave Echo Coffee with a sour experience (regardless of how good the coffee was).

So we’ve moved the cookies to a less visible location, and the disappointment in children’s faces is now a thing of the past.  However, it also means that adults are less and less aware of our cookies, and when/how they might get one.

And thus the point of this post.  The cookies are there to encourage you to take a minute (or two, or five) to sit down and enjoy your espresso bases drink.  A straight espresso only takes a minute or two to enjoy.  A cappuccino takes perhaps five minutes.  Admittedly, a latte may take ten minutes or longer to enjoy.  We know if you are in a hurry in the morning, you probably won’t sit down for a couple of minutes to enjoy your coffee, but that’s why we’ve layered on incentives for doing so.  The first incentive is the beautiful porcelain cup (honestly, would you ever willingly choose to have a coffee or espresso in a paper cup?  Would ever make it that way for yourself at home?).  And the second incentive is the small 100% organic, shortbread cookie.  Either alone might be enough, but we are hoping that the two together tip the scale in favor of you choosing “for here” the next time we ask if it’s for here or to go.

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