I walked into a recently opened local shop today, hoping to get my caffeine fix with a cappuccino. It was my second time visiting and this time, there was one more customer than during my last visit (and there was no one last time). It made me wonder what was wrong with the shop. There I was, sitting outside on the patio (indoor seating= 10, outdoor seating= 12), the only other customer. On a Friday afternoon and 85 degrees outside. Nothing’s wrong with the location, per se, since the deli next door was packed with customers. But it IS located in a converted house (I almost walked by it the first time) with very little seating. It’s evident that the owners are specialty coffee fans: great espresso machine, grinders, beans, etc. They’ve even hosted workshops and expanded PR into some local news clips and newsletters. So why was the barista on her computer when I entered?

I want this shop to be successful and it pains me to see it flailing around. What do you do, as a customer and fellow coffee lover, to politely suggest to the owner that maybe they should change their approach? My first suggestion would have been to change locations. I’m astounded anyone would even open a shop with less square feet than my apartment. But since that can’t be changed, I’d say better PR, some small talk skills for the baristas, and maybe back off a bit on the intensity of the coffee obsession appreciation. Build up a customer base, then start the workshops and education.

Oh, and if I’m the only customer in the shop and you had to scoop out half the foam out because you didn’t steam the whole milk as well as you would’ve liked, dump it out and try again. I can wait another minute. I’d rather not have my cappuccino taste one-noted and like it was made with skim milk.

On the other hand, I don’t claim to be well-versed in business or coffee, for that matter. Sometimes it’s better to keep opinions to yourself.