Iced Coffee, Hot Tea

iced coffee hot tea

I never used to be a fan of iced coffee. For years, the thought of iced coffee was totally unappealing. Then a few years ago I experienced an iced coffee from someplace like Dunkin Donuts or McDonalds. It was the kind of iced coffee that was doctored up with caramel or vanilla, sweetener, and lots of cream.

Wow, after that I had a whole different relationship with iced coffee. It was like, iced coffee? Oh, definitely, yes, please!

Then I ran into someone who makes his own iced coffee at home every morning. Really? I said. How do you make it?

And then I got a quick-and-dirty tutorial.

1) Brew a pot of good strong coffee
2) Add your choice of sweetener to the pot while it’s still warm
3) Refrigerate the pot
4) When cold, pour over ice in a glass
5) Add creamer to taste
6) Enjoy

Now I make my own iced coffee at home almost every day. And I make them for my friends. They are ridiculously easy to make, and everyone loves them!

I serve iced coffees at my coffee shop. Lots of people like them.

I have always, always been a fan of tea. Probably because I grew up in a then-Commonwealth country and the British/Australian influence was very strong. Afternoon tea was de rigueur. My parents had many British and Australian friends, and any time we stopped at their houses for a visit, or dropped by their places of business, we were always offered a cup of hot tea. And most of us drank it with milk.

So now I’m still a huge fan. I have a whole array of teas at home. Spiced chai, Earl Grey and Constant Comment are my top three favorites. Lately, though, I’ve added lemon chamomile to my selection, and I enjoy drinking that in the afternoon or at night.

I was given a nice diffuser for a gift, and with it came a couple of bags of loose tea ordered from a tea and coffee purveyor.

One of the bags of loose tea contained Earl Grey, and I have to say, that was not your mama’s Earl Grey. This stuff had whole, albeit tiny, purple flowers that made up the special spice blend that gives Earl Grey its characteristic flavor. That loose tea, when run through the diffuser, yielded the best tea ever. You could really taste the nuances and subtleties of flavor.

I did find that I couldn’t add water for a second round after I’d already used the diffuser for one cup. This is because the mechanism at the bottom of the diffuser that would let the tea out would get stuck open. Tea leaves would get into the outlet area and keep the small sealing piece from dropping all the way down and sealing.

Anyway, that was great tea, and I have strived to always offer the best of the world’s teas to my customers. Just because we’re in a small town doesn’t mean we have to compromise on quality of our consumer goods!

Comparison Visits

comparison shopping for coffee

Whenever I’m visiting another city or town, I’ll always check out as many of its coffee shops as possible. I want to get ideas on how other people are running their shops. I never want my place to become static or stagnant. If I deliberately choose to leave things the way they are running, that’s ok, because it’s intentional. But I don’t want to let things run ad nauseum out of complacency of inattention.

I visited a coffee shop in a little town in Tennessee. The shop was called Poet’s (not starbucks). (I never found out why; I also never asked.) A bit of an unusual feature of that coffee shop was the high counter that ran across the store front, right in front of plate glass windows that ran floor to ceiling and extended across the whole front of the store.

So when you walked up to Poet’s, you saw through the glass store front to this long counter and people sitting at it facing the store front and the street. Usually they were engrossed in something—their laptop or their phone, or occasionally a book. Or sometimes in a conversation with another person.

Outside the glass store front was the sidewalk, and there were several café tables there in front of the windows. People inside at the counter could basically look down at the tops of the heads of patrons sitting at the café tables.

That counter/bar that ran along the glass store front is not something I’ve seen in any other location.

Another interesting thing about this coffee shop is that it had a back room. So you could take your coffee and snack and sit at any of the tables in that back room. The thing is, you wouldn’t know it was there unless you used the restrooms, which were located between the main front room and the back room.

I was surprised when I went to use the ladies’ room and saw that just beyond it was another whole room. It had a different feel from the front room. There were no windows and instead the back walls were lined with book shelves full of books.

For some reason it was much quieter back there. Almost felt like a library. All the people in that room were either studying or reading or working on their laptops. No one was sitting having conversation. It was almost like everyone knew that that was not the room for sitting and chatting. That was the room for quiet and solitary activity.

Those were the two distinctive features of Poet’s—the high front counter and the separate back room.

The other aspects of Poet’s were similar to many coffee shops. There were wooden tables with chairs, there were some couches and easy chairs, there was a normal selection of hot and cold coffees and teas, there was a small but reasonable offering of food items, and there was a display area with Poet’s mugs and local handmade jewelry. The ceilings were high; the floors were wood with a few rugs; the lighting was comfortable—not too bright and not too dim.

So I came away from my visit there with the two ideas of the back room, the glass store front, and the high counter against that store front.

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