Friday, November 29, 2013

Passion in Grumpy & The Dreaded One's Little Cafe Of Awesome

No, this is not a story about how passionate The Dreaded One is about preparing good food, or a story about how passionately Grumpy loathes fern leaf latte art. It's a story (not so much of a story as a captured moment) of two of the most passionate customers we've ever had.

Sadly, they were not passionate about the food or the coffee. They were, however, very passionate about each other. Basically, they were the snoggingest couple I think I've ever seen They were at it for well over an hour. It could have been two hours, or maybe that was just because it felt like time had slowed. It was like they were 14 years old and had discovered that another person's tongue was the absolute coolest thing ever you could have in your mouth. It was blurring the lines between affection and canabalism. It was noisy, in a quietly wet and moany way.

They took short breaks from time to time to murmur and giggle quietly, then they went back at it. Their hand clasped each others head, fingers wound through hair in a way that reminded me of octopus tentacles, sucking and slurping...

For a long time, they were the only customers in the cafe, which made me feel pretty uncomfortable. I tried to be as quiet as possible as I went about doing stuff that had to be done because I didn't want to ruin the delusion they were both sharing that they were actually at home on their own. Then I thought fuck it and turned the music up to block out the wet sounds. Then, thinking about the music, I hoped like hell there was no Barry White on The Dreaded One's phone because that would definitely have pushed them over the edge.

Then I peered into the future and knew that I was going to write a blog post about it, because in all the five weeks of running the cafe I had never felt so awkward. It was pretty funny and definitely worth writing about, but I needed an image to go with it. I wanted an image of The Snoggers. But I couldn't just brazenly stand there in the open and take a shot of them because, well, that might appear a little bit pervy.

No. Much better to be secretive about it. Get the camera out, kneel down out of direct sight and aim the camera through the glass display cabinet and zoom in for a nice, intimate shot.

Whereupon The Dreaded One walked in just at the wrong moment and said, "Grumpy - what the hell are you doing?"

Okay, so that obviously didn't happen.

What did happen was this: I wrote a little sign saying Do Not Disturb. I hung it on the door, facing out, stepped outside, quietly closed the door and went for a nice little walk around the block because surely they couldn't still be at it when I got back.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Latte Art At Grumpy & The Dreaded One's Little Cafe Of Awesome.

Me and latte art... not exactly a match made in heaven. This was my attempt at a heart. Words can't express my feelings when I saw what an epic fail this was. Don't get me wrong - my coffee - according to many, many volunteered and heartfelt comments from customers - tastes mighty fine. One even went so far as to say that she is always looking for the best coffee in Melbourne and that we are right up there. I don't think this could be possible, but certainly concensus is that Grumpy & The Dreaded One's Little Cafe Of Awesome serves a good cup of coffee.

What is also generally agreed upon is my breathtaking ineptitude when it comes to making simple shapes in the crema like fern leaves and hearts. Sometimes I have come so close that my heart almost stops just before it sinks when I see the result. Other times I manage to turn a heart into a fart.

Mostly I have abandoned the whole latte art thing. I still manage to get the contrast between the stretched milk (ooh look at me and my techie terms) and the crema to look delicious so long as I don't attempt to create a recogniseable shapes... unless those recogniseable shapes are buttocks, in which case my latte art is awesome.

Interestingly, not a single person has mentioned the lack of latte art. I think the average punter doesn't give a flying fern leaf about decorating their coffee. Amongst my friends I have had expressions of disdain; it's all wank, all that matters is the taste. But if we get a reviewer in I don't doubt they will mention that lack of latte art. This could work for us or against us.

In spite of this, I am enrolled in a latte art class. I think it's a silly trend but maybe if I nail the technique I can do interesting, fun things. I am not looking forward to it because I don't like classes, but it has to be done.

We're feeling good about the whole cafe project. We've only had great feedback about the food and the coffee and the general vibe of the place. People just seem to like it, whatever 'it' is. We're just gradually adding more stuff to give it character. It's a work in progress done on the cheap because that's all we can afford. But this is a good thing. Gradually, gradually.

This could be my signature latte art at Grumpy & The Dreaded One's Little Cafe Of Awesome. Not a bad likeness, huh?

Monday, November 18, 2013

What Made You Smile Today?

I smiled at the smile of an old lady who had that smile in the eyes, like inside, she was still young. She smiled and thanked me for making her coffee and serving her her muffin and her chocolate slice and her milkshake with added thickener to stop her brother (I'm assuming he was her brother) from choking. He was even older than she was. He shuffled about in one of those wheel zimmerframe things, and they spilled too many muffin crumbs on the table and were too far past their prime and she was too sweet for all the horribleness and sadness not too far ahead them.

But as she left, she smiled. A proper smile, in spite of everything. Wrinkles at the corners of the eyes, the whole smile deal, and that made me smile. It was a sad smile. It was a smile of gratitude. It was a smile that said, thank you.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Conversations At Grumpy& The Dreaded One's Little Cafe Of Awesome

Conversations with our customers. I suspect this will be an ongoing series.

Customer: Oh. You serve organic coffee.

Grumpy: Yes, we serve organic coffee.

Customer: Do you have any that's not organic?

Grumpy: No, but I'm sure I can find some chemical to add to it.

(Grumpy makes the large organic coffee with no added chemicals but with added soy).

Grumpy: That's four dollars please.

Customer: No extra for the soy?

Grumpy: No.

Customer: Oh. Cool.

Grumpy: It's because it's not actually soy.

The Dreaded One, from the ladder where she is adding wall decoration to the cafe's walls: We've got some really caustic chemicals out the back if you want some.

Customer, raising his coffee: No, I'll see how I go with this first.

I enjoyed this conversation a lot. Customer was a funny bastard. I'm enjoying getting to know many of our customers. I am frequently intrigued. Sometimes I make instant judgement which is quickly proven wrong, or right. Usually I care. Generally I want everyone to get what they want and to be happy and satisfied. And overall, this seems to be happening. I'm being bombarded by every kind of human in the cafe (including the occasional Dalek), but mostly it's okay. Mostly you humans are okay. Some of the old ones have already melted my heart (Where the fuck is this coming from? I am me! I don't have a melty heart!). And I have made a small child or two smile by being nice to them. (Where the fuck is this coming from? I am me etc).

And fuck me if I wasn't labeled a bastard during that stupid suspended coffee thing a while back because I thought it was more an internet phenomenon than a real thing. I was told I was a 'chode' or something because I thought it was a stupid idea. Thing is, I've served a spaced-out junkie his latte with three sugars when I should have thrown him out. I watched him walk out into the street and tip his coffee back and wished the fucker well, because he needs all the good wishes he can get.

And we have our regular recovering alcoholic hard case that comes in every day. Some days he has enough money to pay for his pot of tea, some days he doesn't. Some days he can afford the lamb casserole he likes so much, some days he can't afford all of it. He always gets his pot of tea and his hot meal, even if he can't afford it and might be bad for business with his air of hopelessness and fucked-upness. Ideallly I don't want him there, but he's okay, knows he should pay most times, and he's a broken human. How can you not give him his pot of tea and hot meal?

So yeah. I'm enjoying my conversations with the customers.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Getting To Nude You

We have our regulars at our new cafe. It's nice getting to know them, to hear about their lives.
One regular customer (large latte with half a sugar) comes in each morning and I ask about her day and her week and she tells me about her life with her husband and her grown daughters. She smiles a lot. She is lovely. I imagine she comes from the suburbs.

Today, I finished making her large latte with half a sugar, but she lingered, distracted, reading something. I saw that it was a Grumpy column at the back of the menus. She was smirking as she read.

She finished, we did the transaction and I asked, which one was it that you were reading? Turns out it was this one.

Then she smiled and confided, "I think I'm a bit of a closet nudist myself."

And with a small hand gesture that could have meant anything, she managed to scatter the things across the counter and upturn the tip jar, the contents of which clattered over glass and onto the floor and she tried unsuccessfully to gather everything and make time stop.

She apologised as she scooped the coins up from the floor and appeared a little flushed, and I felt like I was living a moment in a Richard Curtis movie.