This one will be shorter, promise.
First off, we're getting a bit of a chuckle how so many bloggers are putting their own spin on Part 1, particularly on how the points we made are some indicator on the entire state of small business in Pittsburgh (or Mt. Lebo, if you wish).
We don't see it.
Our perspective is simply that of an independent coffeehouse with a different philosophy on product sourcing and standards - and how do we get this across and accepted by a wider audience. This isn't a Pittsburgh thing as much as it is a coffee thing. We've received thoughtful emails from coffeeshop owners trying to pursue the same goals from Connecticut to California.
We're just one of the few businesses openly talking about the challenge of doing so. And perhaps talking openly about it is one of the solutions.
We serve some pretty darned good coffee. It doesn't get better than Intelligentsia and Stumptown when it comes to companies that source ethically and are master roasters. These coffees are designed to highlight the myriad of flavors the beans are capable of. Terroir ("taste of place") is a widely accepted concept for wine. It should be for coffee as well. Most people know a Sumatra tastes earthier than a Guatemalan. But there can be wide variations within Sumatra or Guatemala or any other coffee growing region.
Yet every day, along with taking orders for specific coffees or taste profiles from our regulars, we inevitably get the guy (or gal) who wants, "Just plain old coffee."
We have a response for that. It's, "We don't serve plain coffee or old coffee. What kind of coffee do you generally like?" And that gets us labeled as pretentious by some.
As it does for hundreds of coffeehouses nationwide who are trying to elevate the status of the beverage we love. That's not a challenge limited to Mt. Lebanon or Pittsburgh. It's everywhere except perhaps Portland, where great coffee is expected. Americans are not that different when it comes to coffee, no matter where they live.
Yes, our challenge may be more difficult being in a suburb with a population that skews older, but let's stop talking about this as being a local problem.
Although "local" may be part of the solution.
More to come.