Monday, May 23, 2016

on good service

Last Sunday morning, at a coffee shop in Calgary, I was struck by how good service can change everything.

We were sitting in the sunshine of the little corner bar at Phil & Sebastian in the Mission, watching the world walk by. I was just finishing my avocado-sourdough toast and sipping my High Mountain tea, while Scott had already polished off his gluten-free breakfast sandwich and coffee.

We'd had a tough Saturday night.

It was our anniversary weekend and I'd found a good rate at a fancy hotel downtown. Now that Scott's a graduate student and I've started my own business, we don't get to stay at fancy hotels very often. We had been looking forward to this for weeks.

Well, we won't be going back to this hotel. After we were forced to change rooms late at night because of the hotel's loud stereo system  and then the hotel tried to charge us $500 for the new smaller room – we just wanted to get out of there.

So, Sunday morning, I thought about how this coffee shop could have been like the fancy hotel: uncaring and trying to get away with charging us the moon to sit there. But it wasn't. The staff were friendly and made exceptional coffee and tea along with a great breakfast at a good price.

When we got up to leave, I went over to the counter to thank the staff for running such a good café. They all smiled and thanked me and I walked back to Scott, happy to have this good experience.

As were were zipping up our jackets, a young man from behind the counter came over to us and asked if he we had to go right away. He wanted us to try a special coffee and it would just take a few minutes to make.

Of course we could stay for a special coffee. We sat back down on our cozy stools and looked out the window again.

Soon, he was back with two little cups of Pacamara coffee from Panama. He explained how it was a naturally-processed coffee, which means the farmers let the beans dry with the fruit still on them. He said it's a hard process to control, but when it works it can lead to coffee like this: coffee that is fruity and sweet.

We thanked him and tried our little cups of coffee. It was the most unusual coffee: it was juicy and almost tasted like fruit punch  but was definitely still coffee.

They were perfect little cups of coffee, and we couldn't help but smile at our good fortune.

one year ago: cheddar oatcakes
two years ago: lentil soup with chorizo croutes
three years ago: aspargus and cheese sauce on toast

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