September 1, 2008

Locavore: Coffee Style


Locavore, n: one who eats food grown or produced locally.

The term "locavore" gained official status when it was chosen by the New Oxford American Dictionary as its Word of The Year in 2007, but its practice has long been in existence with things like the 100-mile diet, other locavore movements, and of course the longstanding tradition of Farmer's Markets. In my own daily life, I try as hard as I can to partake in such a lifestyle. However, being in college (read: having a collegiate income) I find that sometimes a green life requires that other type of green...

Enter: coffee. I love the stuff. And now, I'm finding out that I can get a hint of that locavore mindset every time I indulge in that deliciousness...

Kevin over at Coffee Conversations put together a great list of Ways to Help the Independent Coffehouse. A few of my favorites:
Pay CASH for everything - There’s a bunch of rascally merchant provider salesmen out there who constantly work the independent coffeehouses and other small businesses to get them to switch their credit card processing to their company–promising low rates and then hitting them with exorbitant fees on a monthly basis. Even the legitimate merchant providers are a big expense for coffeehouses and being a small business normally means you have no room to negotiate with the big companies that run these credit card processing machines. Help your local coffeehouse owner by refusing to pay by credit or debit card because they in turn normally pay a flat fee plus a percentage of the sale (and then later monthly fees) so you can have convenient use of your card. Paying cash avoids all of this and helps keep an extra 2-5% where it will do the most good.

Live large by tipping large - Most independent coffeehouses are paying their employees everything they can but it can be difficult to retain and keep the really good ones with all the other expenses they have. If you’re given great service–but even if you’re given adequate service–be extravagant in tipping the guy who’s making your drink. He’ll remember you and the next time or two you’ll likely get what you ordered even faster.

Once you find that special place, BRAG BRAG BRAG - Tell your friends and neighbors all about this shop you’ve found and what you like about it so much. Insist that they tell their friends. In fact, just talk and talk about it. You’ll drive enough people crazy that eventually they’ll come to the coffeehouse to see what the fuss is all about. And once they’ve done that, mission accomplished! Now you are really helping your local coffeehouse to succeed and prosper.

If you're in the Downtown Phoenix area, I highly recommend Fair Trade Cafe, Royal Coffee Bar, and Copper Star Coffee (all members of Local First Arizona). If you're not down here (yet), check out Arizona Coffee's exhaustive list of coffeehouses in other parts of the state that are not named Starbucks (full disclosure: I used to work there). If you'd like to stray away from the chain and try something new, join up with Phoenix Friday Coffee (#PFC on Twitter). They don't bite... I think.

Cheers,
Sam
"Coffee is not my cup of tea."
Samuel Goldwyn

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