So often you walk into a coffee shop and feel that you are bothering the staff when you have a basic question. That is not what we experienced when we visited several coffee shops with dear friends this past weekend.

We spent a whole day touring some amazing coffee shops in Chicago. Three coffee houses were calling our names and we had great experiences at each: Wormhole, Ch’ava, and Intelligentsia.

The coffee was wonderful and distinctive, but what made the biggest impression on us was that at every location the baristas met us as individuals and engaged us wherever we fell on the coffee spectrum. This was most definitely the case at Wormhole in Wicker Park. We became quick friends with Robbie…the one with the impressive beard below! He is a true craftsman and loves sharing his passion with his customers.  While we were there we watched Robbie’s interaction with other customers and over the entire morning, there was not a pretentious word that came out of his mouth.

Robbie recently placed 5th in the SCAA U.S. Brewer’s Cup Championship in Portland, OR.  The Brewer’s Cup is essentially the coffee geek’s playground.  It’s not about flair with this competition, but is rather focused solely on brewing technique.  When we talked to Robbie about his experience competing, he said that he made a conscious decision not to take the “easy” path.  Instead of competing in the finals with a Gesha coffee (a coffee that can cost well over $150 per pound and has the same effect as a metal bat in Major League Baseball), he used a $17 bag of beans and served it in cups from his cupboard at home.

Accessibility.  That is the name of the game.

Robbie’s unique ability to engage both the seasoned and novice coffee drinker alike is where we take our notes.  This, my friends, is the type of approach that we will take with our coffee and customers.

Coffee is to be enjoyed, not feared.