Category: Coffee

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee, Dang it!

There are some of you out there who just don’t seem to get it.  You either say you don’t like coffee or you drink bad coffee – and both of these illnesses need to be cured quickly before it spreads to other innocent victims.

This week, in the office lunchroom, I was privy to hear the following statement made:

“That’s awesome! The McDonalds coffee [they sell it in tin cans, if you didn’t know] has been replaced by Tim Horton’s coffee! Finally!  This is so good!!  This coffee is SO much better!”

I almost, nearly, borderline, got closed to ripping my own ears and skin off and jumping out the window.  But I held back for the greater good.  I took a deep breath and kept my big mouth shut.  I decided to view this poor woman for what she is – a victim of marketing and sheltered from the truth.

I viewed her much the way people probably view me when they ask me about wine or sports.  Sometimes we just do things because we don’t have time to figure out a better way or simply because don’t know that we are lost.

You need to first understand that you need coffee.  If you don’t drink coffee, there is something wrong with your DNA.  So start with that.  Go get some fresh roasted beans, have a skilled barista make you a nice cup of espresso or at least an americano.  Then, drink that bad boy black. Don’t add cream, sugar, or any other blasphemy.  Would you do that to your wine?  Didn’t think so.

Now, that you are a coffee drinker, let’s fix your addiction to bad companies and coffee.  First, both of those companies above are not famous for helping the little guy around the world.  Do you want your money going there?  Also, as a quick side note, Tim Horton’s is *not* a Canadian company.  Hasn’t been for years.  Owned by Wendy’s out of the USA I believe…

Coffee is a very sensitive fruit.  It’s a fruit.  It comes from a cherry tree.  In a green bean state coffee is amazingly resilient to time and conditions, but once it’s roasted, the clock is ticking *fast* to get that into your cup and drink it.  If you seal it in a bag whole bean, it’ll keep for a week or so.  If you grind it, good luck.  I don’t think there is any hope at all getting more than a day or two out of it no matter what you do.  And that’s what you are drinking all the time – old, stale coffee.  And that’s also why you are loading it full of cream and sugar, by the way.

Don’t be cheap.  This is not the product you need to cheap out on.  If you are going to cheap out on coffee, make it at home instead of buying it in a store and the savings will be enough to make yourself the best coffee in the world.  The difference between a crap cup of stale coffee and a great cup of super fresh coffee is pennies per cup.  Pennies.  Do not cheap out on this most excellent drink.

Tinned coffee won’t work.

K-cups won’t work.

Bagged coffee won’t work.

Only freshly roasted green beans roasted within days and ground within minutes will work.

Once you change your coffee ways, you’ll be cured!  You’ll be a new man!

I hope this pep talk has encouraged you and given you the necessary slap to your face that will get you back on track.

Victory is yours!

Make the change!

You’ll thank me for this insulting post one day.  Mark my words…

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Procaffeinating – Definition Corrected and Expounded

You may have seen this most excellent image floating around the webs:

procaffeinating-

I thought it was pure genius and if I had the energy or time, I’d probably track down the source and give them credits but that kind of work is for previous generations.

Also, I couldn’t find any detailed expounding on this new and most excellent word.

Also, the entry above is incorrect….

So let’s correct it and expound it, shall we?

In this form above, it’s either a verb (v.) or an adjective (adj.), but it’s definitely not a noun (n.).

As an adjective (adj.), it could be used perhaps in the following examples:

  1. Bob is a procaffeinating individual.
  2. This truly was a procaffeinating experience.

As you may have agreed, both of those examples suck like a vacuum.

As a verb (v.), obviously, it works well:

  1. Enough procaffeinating, Bob, and step away from the french press.  We failed to deliver product to this client and we need to call them and apologize.
  2. Jim, you are 15 minutes late to our Monday morning sales meeting.  You can’t procaffeinate this forever.

Now, the original author was partially correct.  It could have been used as a noun (n.) quite well, such as in any of the following scenarios:

  1. Our Vice President of Sales is running 20 minutes behind as a result of a nasty case of procaffeination, but has assured us that he will be here shortly.
  2. Roger is not only a slacker and a slob, but also a full-blown procaffeinator.

 

alternative spellings:  procaffinating, procaffination, procaffinate, procaffinator,

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Finally. Someone Else Who Hates the K-Cup (Video)

I don’t usually blog videos but dang.  This one is just world class.  Enjoy this, but think about the following, too:

  • it’s the most profitable coffee business on the planet besides Starbucks instant coffee Via
  • You are pumping hot liquid through cheap plastic.  Would you brew coffee through your water bottle? I LOL in your general direction
  • Would you store your ground coffee in a plastic container? Then…???
  • The new brewers hold you hostage to their crappy roasts.  Lawsuit? Someone?
  • You are freaking lazy.  Just admit it.

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Awesome Coffee Interview: Get Coffee Educated

I have already watched this twice.  For me, watching something *once* is rare.

If you like coffee, if you are interested in learning interesting things about coffee, then this is the 1 hour video to watch.  The cool thing is that it has a detailed breakdown of the topics covered so you can skip through to what you like.

My favourite was the part about kids drinking coffee.  Really.  Who says kids can’t drink coffee? We just think this.   These guys say ‘go for it’ and in Brazil it seems to be encouraged to get higher test scores.

Cool!

 

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Keep it Clean and Don’t Burn Bridges: It’s a Small World After All

It has been a few months since I have been spit out the other end of my coffee shop franchise – the most painful 5+ years of my life.  There are not too many people out there who have lost their entire lifetime earnings plus their inheritance, but when this suffering occurs it creates an instant bond with others who have the same experience.  It’s almost as if others who have suffered the same hardship are drawn to you via some invisible magnetic pull.  So, although there are not many of us out there, I know many of them personally now.  Many of them are victims of the franchise system; a silent machine that has the potential of slowly grinding up innocent families in neighbourhoods where you live in while producing yachts, homes, and luxurious cars for the financially and legally skilled.

When I discussed their nasty practices with an acquaintance of mine – an experienced man of business – his response was:  “So?  They are in the business of making money and especially money off of you.  That’s their business model.  You signed up for it. You agreed to be their slave.”  He is right in the legal sense: that we all unwittingly signed a franchise agreement the size o the Oxford Dictionary.  Some people in business think that as long as a party is willing to sign a document that everything is ethically A-Okay.  I have learned that a contract not reviewed by someone with hands-on experience in that specific industry is a recipe for massive hardship.  I used a top notch law firm in Vancouver to review my franchise agreement before I purchased the right to attempt to make money at my location (because you aren’t actually purchasing anything more than that in most cases I’ve seen) and I guess the firm somehow thought that I had a reasonable chance of success.  They were very wrong as the wording of the agreement made it nearly impossible.  They lawyers hadn’t operated a coffee franchise, although they had reviewed a lot of paperwork throughout their career.  Regardless of which standpoint you take on this, there is a greater point at work that supersedes all of this temporary contractual banter.  It is the law of honour.  Dani Johnson pulled this concept together well for me in her book, The First Steps to Wealth.

At one point in the midst of trying to sell my franchise coffee shop I took a sales position with a printer company since I had a signed and accepted offer to purchase the store with a closing date.  To my surprise and chagrin, the sale fell through (just one of several times) and I was stuck with both a sales job and a coffee shop to operate at the same time.  I decided to keep the job regardless and learn what I could seeing that my shop was going nowhere.  While I was out and about in the city doing sales calls, what was interesting was how the decision makers (typically owners) of many companies had already heard stories about the questionable way in which our franchisor treated their franchisees.  I was shocked.  How did all these people know?  During the year this general awareness increased and at one point I entered a retail business (a prescription eyeglass shop to be specific), and at one point during an unrelated conversation I revealed that I owned this particular brand and he looked as if he was going to vomit and then began spewing very bad things about them – all of which were true, all of which was what I thought inside information, and all of which I was surprised to hear from this unknown and completely removed third party source.  My first thought was one of fear: I’m never going to sell my store if everyone knows how bad they are. I’m never going to get out!  It was a horrible moment but it helped me make the decision that I would ‘lock & walk’ (that’s a term I think I invented) even if it meant walking away with nothing but a debt the size of a Vancouver house.  I would no longer have my named yoked to this kind of operation and drag out the inevitable.

Lessons to be Learned

Here is a bullet list of things I’ve learned from this so that others can avoid destruction in both their current businesses and the purchase of a business (ie. a franchise)

You Only Get One Name and Reputation

  • If you plan to buy a business go into the business community, a dig around to see what their general reputation is.  Business owners are a group that just seem to know things that non-business owners don’t.  They will have the inside scoop and you will find it if there is one. You do not want to purchase a business with a nasty reputation as it will require a complete branding tear down and rebuild to restore it.
  • If you are a business now and you have done wrong to others, drop all your other lofty plans and ideas and dedicate yourself full time to fixing your past before it catches up to you and destroys you – because it will.  I didn’t make the sowing and reaping law and I can’t turn it on or off.  It’s on.  This includes staff, partners, vendors, customers – everyone.  Let no stone go unturned.
  • Transparency is the better option.  Confession of wrongs and restitution of damages is not easy to stomach in the present, but the reward for taking this proactive step is priceless.  Secrets eventually get discovered anyways.  Skeletons always fall out of the closet.  And even if they don’t, the courts can and will force them out.  Why wait that long?  People are amazingly graceful when action follows confession.
  • You only get one name.  Protect it.  In Vancouver, even more so it seems.

Win-Lose = Lose-Lose.  Give-Take = Win-Win

  • Do you think gouging someone you do business with is ok whether it’s a vendor, customer or partner?  If you do, you may gain now but you will lose in the most ugly way later while killing your only reputation.  Therefore, win-win is a recommended strategy in all that you do.  I am pleased to report that at least one coffee franchise appears to be building on this foundation and there is joy and peace surrounding their operation.
  • The yacht won’t cover your guilt or fill your empty heart.  You can’t take your riches to the grave.  They, like your corpse, will eventually decay into the earth below from which they came and the earth will have no recollection of you a few years later.  Why not prioritize your life differently and think eternally?  Why not give your grand kids something they can proudly tell their grand kids about?  Why not fill your funeral house with sad franchisees, vendors, and other people around the city who will miss the positive contribution you had on your city and the people you touched?  Yes, it is possible.

Have a nice day.

That was an unconventional blog ending.

 

 

 

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Top Ten Ways to Get Rid of Customers at Closing Time

Everyone who has worked in a cafe  for the closing shift knows about one thing all too well – the customers who just don’t seem to understand that you don’t want to stand there and watch them chat after closing.  They are usually very well-meaning people but they just don’t ‘get it’.  Maybe they haven’t worked in a food and beverage business before?  Who knows.  All we know is that at closing time we want to, as politely as possible, encourage them to go outside and enjoy the weather so we can go home while trying to avoid losing them as a future customer.

I therefore present to you,  the Top Ten Ways to Get Rid of Customers at Closing Time List

This list in most polite to most severe order.  We all hope we never get to number one, but keep all the tools in your toolbox.  This list should be modified to meet your unique environment.  

10. Walk around to all the customers and collect any washable items while politely saying:”I’m going to run the last dishwasher load now so may I take these dishes?”  – make sure you do it to everyone so they know you are kicking everyone out equally.  If some people don’t have dishes, make sure they can hear your voice as you speak to others.

9. Start wrapping up food items and other such things in front of the existing customers.

8. Make (or fake) a very ‘obvious’ phone call with a dialogue that sounds something like this while making sure all the customers hear you as you walk around:

“Hi Honey!  I’m almost closed.  I’ll be home as fast as possible after closing.  I’m sure I’ll be out of here in just a few more minutes.  We have just a few customers finishing up right now.  I can’t wait to see the kids!”

7. Turn off the air conditioner in the summer.  Turn off the heat in the winter.  This will send 85% of people running within 10 minutes.

6. Start giving very loud and obvious warnings to new customers something like the following, while making sure the camping customers hear you loud and clear:

“I just wanted you to be crystal clear that we are closing in __ minutes and I need to leave right at close tonight so you may want to reconsider ordering.”

5. Shut off the music – Completely.  The silence will create an immediate awkward and eery feeling that is certain to get 80% of people to pack up and move on.

4. Mop as close as possible to the customers while making sure mop water has a double dosage of bleach to get all of their senses in tune with the fact that they will be leaving with you shortly.  If possible, you could add a vacuum into this step if you have one.

3. Make excessive noise while moving large items like patio tables, metal signs, chairs, etc, from the outside patio in.  This combined with the eery silence created by Step #5 will leave only the most oblivious and/or selfish customers

2. Shut off the lights.  All of them.  Start with one set and gradually move the darkness towards them until it’s just you and them in pitch darkness.  Offer them your cell phone as a flashlight to help them see each other.

1. Say to the customer with a huge customer service friendly smile:

“Hi there!  I’m so happy you have been enjoying our establishment but,  as you can see from the darkness that has enveloped us, we are closed now [laugh a little here].  Would it be alright if I lock the door and go home now? “

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What’s this bitcoin stuff? A Layman’s Overview

bitcoin.

You’ve heard about it somewhere.  Maybe a local restaurant has a sign that says ‘bitcoin accepted here’, or maybe you’ve just read about a Ponzi scheme or drug and firearms deal associated with it. What is sure is that you probably don’t have the full story on it – and you should – it’s revolutionary.

To start with, take exactly 1 minute and 44 seconds and watch this video from the folks at www.weusecoins.com:

Next in line for your study is the Wikipedia page where you can go as deep as you want into the details

Summary of how it works

My understanding of Bit Coin (so far) is that it fits somewhere between ‘commodity’ (like gold) and a ‘currency’ (cold cash) and ‘bartering’ (exchanging products/services for other products/services).  Here is a copy and paste from the Wikipedia page that expands on the ‘supply and demand’ aspect of bitcoin which shows it more as a ‘commodity’ with limited supply, behaving like gold or silver:

The number of new bitcoins created in each update is halved every 4 years until the year 2140 when this number will round down to zero. At that time no more bitcoins will be added into circulation and the total number of bitcoins will have reached a maximum of 21 million bitcoins.

Therefore, in my opinion, it’s more like a ‘precious metal’ than a currency or normal physical commodity.  With gold or silver, we have a limited amount in the earth now, but there is not a known end point to how much silver or gold ‘could’ be mined from the earth.  Someone ‘could’ find the mother load tomorrow and decrease the value of gold notably.  Similarly, a government could (and probably will) just print a bunch of bills and decrease the value of currency with a quick vote.  With bitcoin, the limit is 21 million and once they are mined, that’s it.  One could present a very good case that mining, buying and being paid in bitcoin could be a very good future financial investment when/if it becomes accepted by the average citizen.

How an actual payment is made:

  1. Create your virtual wallet (at a place like blockchain.info) with a bitcoin application which generates a unique ‘address’ which can then be turned into a convenient QR code
  2. Bitcoin recipient shares their QR code (or address mumbo jumbo which looks like  a string of random letters and numbers) and the person who wants to pay scans the code, enters how much, and boom.  They have money.
  3. Bitcoin recipient can also send payment via blockchain’s SMS and email option.  I just tested the SMS option and it worked.  It looked as if a .0005 bitcoin transaction fee was applied to my account after doing it.

Side thought:  So, theoretically, I guess you could carry your unique bitcoin wallet address with you as well as the QR code and you wouldn’t technically need a mobile device with you to receive payment, although it would be an unlikely scenario.  However, is it possible to pay someone via bitcoin without a mobile?  I suppose they could do it from any internet accessible computer…

The Big Picture

Before looking at the list of strengths and weaknesses of bitcoin, it’s important to focus back on the bigger picture.  Our current monetary and trading system has some serious problems.  Here is a quick list:

  • currencies are tied to specific countries which are subject to specific problems (wars, government mismanagement, etc).  Most people are not sophisticated enough to be able to trade in currencies to take advantage of this flaw so we just go up and down with the value of the day.  What’s more interesting (a.k.a. ‘disturbing’) is that global currencies are valued against the US Dollar.  How did this one country and it’s money become the benchmark for the rest of our money?  Something worth considering.
  • credit card companies are nasty in their business practices and their business model both to the customer and the merchant – while they are round-house kickin’ the customer for not paying on time, they are kicking the merchant in the crotch with both transaction fees and percentage of sales fees, for giving the customer the ability to get round-house kicked.  Others call them ‘genius business  model’.
  • commodities are linked to a currency and are traded on a trading system/exchange that is linked to a country and currency – you think of gold as worth X amount in your native currency, not how much jewelry you can make from itn- and you can’t go hand someone gold dust for an americano…
  • all of this stuff is tracked

Here are some real situations where bitcoin is superior:

  • You pay your hairdresser with bitcoin and he goes and pays his barista for his coffee and his waiter for his meal.  No parties declare any of it as ‘income’ because it never left the ‘bitcoin system’.  In this situation it’s a ‘bartering’ system with a way to conveniently transfer funds without fees.  Many have tried this in the past (Barter Dollars, Trade Exchange, etc) but convenience and fees made it more tricky.  Although I’m definitely *not* an accountant and will not be held liable for this as taxation advice, I cannot see how this is not legitimate.  Once you take it out as ‘cash’ (like an RRSP if you will) then you sign up to have both your yin and your yang taxed through the wazoo.
  • When you buy your americano with bitcoin your coffee shop owner didn’t have to pay through the same yin-yang in both transaction fees and percentage-of-sale fees to Visa for your electronic convenience.  If enough people did this, there is no reason why the savings couldn’t be passed back to the customer.  Perhaps some businesses will offer a 1.5% discount to their customers for using bitcoin?  Why not?
  • You want to travel with money but you don’t want the amount of money limited to some governmental limit.  Take bitcoin in your head.  It’s not in your wallet or a bank so all you need is your password.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Here is a list of strengths and weaknesses that should be considered, yet not considered conclusive or exhaustive:

Strengths

  • decentralized (not under one government)
  • fair fees (about 1 cent per transaction to keep system going)
  • free to mine (anyone can mine for it)
  • open source (no one owns the code)
  • secure

Weaknesses

  • based on the internet which can go down
  • if you lose your password you could lose your ‘wallet’
  • Currently getting easier but not yet ‘easy’ to find businesses that accept it, especially brick and mortar businesses (this will change)
  • Since it’s like cash, bad people can do bad things with it without being tracked (ie. drugs, firearms, Ponzi scams, etc).
  • No one (yet) to turn to if a transaction goes sour, or for some reason a technical blunder occurs, or the unlikely event that your ‘wallet’ is compromised by a thief.  But… is this any different than cash?
  • Advantage given to early miners based on the half-life release of the bitcoins.  I list it as a ‘weakness’ but is this any different from the ‘advantage’ the first courageous miners gained who risked their lives and went up north to the gold rush and struck it rich? Or like the entrepreneur who risks every dollar they ever earned to open a new business?  Some consider this ‘unfair advantage’ but I consider it ‘first-mover advantage’ for the visionaries.
  • you need some access to the internet and/or a mobile device which may be out of the reach for some less financially able folks.. although you could use the public library, I guess.

Bitcoin FAQs

At some point soon I will publish an FAQ of questions that are not answered in this post.  I will link it here when it’s published.  Until then we hope to see you with full bitcoin wallet!

 

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How Honest are Vancouverites – A Series of Social Experiments

Here is a series of ( social_experiments) performed at a downtown coffee shop in Vancouver.  These experiments took place between February 21st, 2011 and August 5th, 2011.  This was a fun experiment designed to test the integrity of the general public walking by a downtown Vancouver coffee shop on a normal day during daylight hours.  Originally posted at www.blenzseymour.com.

Special thanks to Tiffany and Rob who helped put this together and provided lots of laughs and raised eyebrows through the tests.

Here is the PDF if you didn’t get it above:

social_experiments

 

 

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Does an Espresso Bean Cure All Stomach Ailments? – Another Human Experiment

Originally posted at www.blenzseymour.com, Mon, 02/28/2011 – 12:31

———————–

So, there I am.  Standing.  But I wish I was sitting…because I have a certain common bowel-related ailment going on.  But that’s more than you need to know.  Let’s just call it a ‘stomach ailment’.

For a few hours I endured the usual challenges associated with this ailment but on hour three I recalled an eastern European-sounding man who came into my shop to create the following dialogue:

Man: I want coffee bean.
Me: Ok… Would you like 200 or 400 grams?
Man: No. I just want coffee bean.
Me:  Well… we sell beans in either 200 or 400 gram quantities.
Man: How much does cost 1 bean?
Me: ONE bean??  WTF, MOFO! (ok, I didn’t actually say that but I thought it.) Sir, we don’t sell individual beans…but, why do you want just one bean?
Man: It fixes stomach.
Me: OH! Sounds good.  Here you go…

But I always wondered if the bean thing actually fixes stomach ailments.  I was just waiting for such a day as today.

Update 1: 11:15 – I have eaten, raw, two individual espresso beans.

Update 2: 11:45 – I have to admit it: I’m not thinking about my stomach much and my ‘general energy’ is up.  Was it because I haven’t had a coffee yet?  Is there a placebo effect kicking in?

Update 3: the next day – Some have inquired about the final results.  I must say that I am uncertain as to whether the fact I felt reasonably better a few hours later was because of the beans or not, but I did feel better.  One customer thinks it was the placebo effect.  I maintain that expresso beans cure all stomach ailments because here I am. Cured.

I invite anyone in our catchment area to sign up for this experiment.  I will administer one bean to you as necessary and until you are healed.  We will publish the results and you’ll be famous for sure.

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