Oh hey there! Welcome to the blog for discourse: a liquid workshop. What you're currently feasting your eyes upon is our FIRST EVER blog post, and it's a big one. We're starting the blog as a way to more fully communicate with the amazing community of individuals who follow and support our vision. Don't get us wrong, we love keeping in touch with you all through our Instagram and Facebook, but there are some things that just can't be communicated through social media posts.
The blog is where we'll ramble about truly exceptional coffee and records, about the people and places we love and admire and the everyday happenings that inspire us. We'll use the blog to start conversation about the records selected for our listening parties (new in 2018, STAY TUNED), dig deeper into our menus and spread the word about the monthly shindigs at the workshop. We'll also use the blog to share big news, fresh recipes and surefire brewing tips.
For the past year we've been exploring the boundaries of what's possible with coffee. We've been searching, every day and every long drive, for our vision of coffees' future. For our definition of the Fourth Wave. In our search, we've found that it all boils down to one simple thing: focus. The Third Wave of coffee shifted the focus from quantity to quality. We were no longer measuring the worth of a cafe by cups sold, but instead by extraction yields, swans painted with milk and the presence of a pink bourbon or geisha, scientifically brewed with trained hands on a grinder with burrs bigger than my face (well, almost). That was, and is, a beautiful thing. Passionate baristas, roasters, importers, farmers, engineers, and software developers have created an incredible ecosystem focused on the production of insanely high quality coffee and it kind of kicks ass. Strike that, it really kicks ass. But the Third Wave started in 1999. We've had twenty years to practice making killer coffee and believe it or not we've gotten pretty damn good at it. So maybe you find yourself asking the same question we've been pondering daily for the last year: what's next?
A change of focus. The Fourth Wave of coffee assumes quality. It applies the lessons and principles of the Third Wave to an entirely new focus: the customer experience. To practice the Fourth Wave is to create liquid stories, to convey emotion and memory through taste, smell, texture and presentation. To practice the Fourth Wave is to believe coffee can be bespoke: that each experience is deserving of it's own service and each customer deserving of a drink that resonates with them, beyond just being delicious. To practice the Fourth Wave is to utilize every tool, technique and ingredient at your disposal to create memorable experiences for your guests. Remember, deliciousness is assumed, so let's have some fun!
In 2017, we teased at the Fourth Wave with experiences like Smoke Tricks, C.A.B., Matrix Reference and Caramel Macchiato (see Omakase) being served alongside our current and craft drinks. While we loved being able to present people with these experiences, it was difficult to balance them with more traditional drink orders. An order for Caramel Macchiato or Matrix Reference would set one of us back 5-7 minutes, severely hindering our ability to put out drinks in a timely manner. The happenings of a normal day at the shop also limited our ability to truly engage in a discourse about the experience at hand. So, for the last few months we've been back at the drawing board, trying to figure out a way to intensify our focus on the Fourth Wave while increasing our efficiency in the Third. Several beers and frozen pizzas later (probably the most honest thing I'll ever type), we've come to a solution that we're incredibly excited to share with you.
That solution is an entirely new approach to the presentation of coffee: an Omakase-style menu. Omakase is a Japanese word meaning "I'll leave it up to you". While the worlds' greatest restaurants have been perfecting Omakase-style menus for decades, the style has just recently broken onto the cocktail scene with concepts like BarChef in Toronto, The Walker Inn in Los Angeles and The Aviary in Chicago offering down-right unbelievable Omakase-style menus. This style of menu, up until the present moment, has been essentially non-existent in the coffee industry.
Our Omakase-style menu is put entirely in the hands of the drink maker. Each menu will consist of a series of drinks bound together by a core idea. The menu may act as an accompaniment to a particularly poignant album, score or painting. It might pay homage to the seasons or the art on the walls, to cultural taboos or the new star wars flick. It could be a reflection of the unnatural beauty of Door County or an adventure to a far-off land. I think you get the point.
Giving our experiential preparations their own time and place will allows us to offer more craft creations consistently at the workshop: you can expect a menu of 6-8 specialty drinks available at all times and shorter waits to boot! Omakase will be presented at four services each month beginning June 2018, with a full schedule published on the first of each month. Information on the current Omakase menu can be found here, along with galleries of past experiences. Tickets will be released for the full run of the menu both online (link to come) and in the workshop within an hour of announcement. Seats will be very limited and offered on a first come, first serve basis.
Giving the Fourth Wave it's own time and place to grow and prosper through Omakase will allow us to dig deeper than ever before. We will no longer be constrained by time, labor or product costs. The entire focus will be the customer experience. An intimate connection between the maker and the consumer, a story told without distraction or interruption. We can't wait to have you at our table: we will be exploring the beyond of coffee together, friends.
To the future of coffee and ever fervent discourse!