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Why drink specialty coffee? For the People: Part 2

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  • By Ben Cowie
  • Posted in Cafe News
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Why drink specialty coffee? For the People: Part 2

Of course it's not just the human element behind the coffee beans but right in front of you too!

Our coffee is special because our people are special. We started London Bicycle Café with the intention to have our coffee served by professionals who have honed their coffee skills through study and deliberate practice over many years, just as our bike mechanics have spent their time developing their trade. Our mission is to consistently serve the best quality cup of coffee in the city. To accomplish this goal, our coffee is going to cost a little more than a cup elsewhere, but we promise it will be worth it, too. Great people are the reason why our coffee simply tastes better.

Many people work in coffee shops for something to do when they’re in between jobs, traveling, or earning a few extra dollars to supplement their student loans. We think of coffee a little differently. We see coffee as a profession, a passion, and a calling. Unlike craft beer or wine, coffee requires a talented person to extract the essence from the bean just before it’s served. Without a skilled barista, even the best coffee can be sour, bitter, or weakly extracted. And nothing is worse than a bad cup of coffee to start your day.

If you’ve been in our café before, chances are good you’ve met Jenn. Before we opened our café, she came to us with great skills and passion for brewing perfect cups of coffee, and with a little help from our friends at Rosso, she’s brought her skills to a new level. Jenn has brought so much more passion to the space than just technical knowledge, as she is constantly developing and sharing knowledge about the beans, farming, preparing, and roasting process. Not to mention encouraging our guests to open their coffee noses to new experiences. If you want to create a beautiful home-coffee operation, Jenn is the first person you should talk to about it, and of course we have the supplies in stock to get you going. Creating recipes that work with our space, being precise with measurements and appearance of drinks, and spending some of her spare time learning new latte art, Jenn has brought a fully professional approach to our coffee program in a way few other places in London have managed to achieve (with a special shout out to Locomotive Espresso, who blazed a trail in this area for London and area). We expect a lot from our coffee staff, and we know that if we want to be serving the highest quality cups, we need passionate people to do it.

Jen smiles as she makes a pourover coffee at the coffee bar.

To support and encourage people to develop professional-level skills in coffee arts, we decided to pay a living wage in an industry where paying minimum wage is the norm. This means our coffee costs a little bit more (about a quarter more than similar coffeehouses), and the person serving you doesn’t need to work two jobs just to get by. The organization Living Wage London spells this out clearly: full-time minimum wage isn't enough to get by as an adult in the city. However, someone making a living wage won’t live extravagantly, but they can afford groceries and rent. We think that individuals who work full time should be able to afford to live decently, and that decency is part of a functional civilized society.

We receive regular compliments from people who say our coffee is the best cup they’ve ever tried, or that they usually take cream and sugar, but wouldn’t dare pollute our brews. These comments make us smile every time, keep 'em up! We’ve had some other comments that our coffee costs more than some people are willing to pay regularly, and we think about that, too. However, when we consider the balance between the human costs of coffee, we can’t imagine serving a quality product that costs less than what we serve it for, while maintaining human dignity throughout the supply chain. We’re really proud of the people involved in bringing you a delicious cup, and hope you can feel good about drinking a cup from us, too.


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