By Jon Clutton
Dear our amazingly generous, gracious, adventure-seeking 150 first customers....
photo cred: Adri Guyer
We can't thank you enough for coming out to support The Wild Way Coffee on our first week of business. Especially since, somedays, we were operating in less-than-ideal situations.
Let me explain...
No matter how much you prepare, sometimes your generator goes down right before your Media Day starts. Sometimes, your coffee brewer is at a slight tilt because your operating a coffee shop on wheels and it makes the coffee taste watery. Sometimes, you think you fix your water issue by flushing gallons of Reverse Osmosis water into your machines and it comes back the next day unannounced and you don't know how many people you served that coffee too.
Yes, all of those things happened the first week of us opening. Not to mention the many more crazy, wild, learning-curve realizations we underwent over the last 7 days.
Here is a little synopsis for you.
We finished construction on the camper, passed health inspection, had an "adventurous" media day, served for the first time, participated in the caffeine crawl, lost feeling in our hands because it was so cold, and had an amazing event with Seven Swans Creperie. What has stood out to me most after this first week of slaying some spro has been how many amazing people have walked up to those windows of ours. Every single person has been so kind and gracious. We've had so many great and unexpected conversations. These have been the best moments, so thank you for giving us so much grace and support and @tymitchell59 thanks for this dope photo.
Coffee is delicious, so we take pride in the quality of our product - trying to do things as best as we possible can - the wild way. That's why we dose our own water, drive out to De Soto to pick up Hildebrand dairy (which is delicious and I'll write a blog about later), use alternative milks with the least amount of emulsifiers, make all of our syrups in house, carry 1900 Barker pastries, and support local products as much as possible.
As a young business, it is tempting to want to project the idea that we have it all figured out. I am going to just say it straight...we don't have it all figured out. And we definitely didn't have it all figured out the first week of our soft launch.
If you ever want a good comedy show, hang around 31st and Charlotte at 2:45pm on a Tues thru Sat. There will be this cute white trailer trying and failing to back into a warehouse during peak traffic. I make at least one obligatory trip around the block, Christine waves her arms around frantically at least twice, and you hear "HOLY CRAP STOP" yelled at least five times.
Bring snacks. It's a good show.
The "adventure" during our media day consisted of our generator, and therefore every piece of our equipment going down right when everyone showed up. As Christine and I were running around trying to figure out what was going on, every event attendee gave us grace. I don't think we could have made it through that day without their grace and the incredible help from our new neighbor Kris from El Torreon.
We went to bed that night honestly questioning what we got ourselves into. The following day was our soft launch start day and we didn't even know if our generator could make it.
Thankfully, the generator was able to hold up; however, we had served about ten people coffee before we noticed the color, and realized the coffee was extremely watery. We were so puzzled, literally, the day before it was great.
We trouble-shooted and discovered that because we were on a slight tilt in the parking lot that day, the water from the coffee brewer was missing some of the coffee bed and going straight into the urn. We served humans watery coffee on our first day operating a coffee shop. Cue the palm in face emoji.
Now...we level the trailer to the batch brewer instead of the countertops. And drip coffee is now my favorite thing to serve. It tastes incredible.
The following next couple days were a blur. But here is what we know.
We know we definitely served a lot of our first customers crappy coffee. Cue grimacing face emoji.
Not only did we have the watery-coffee issue, but we also had a minerally-tasting-coffee issue.
Christine and I noticed a weird, mineral taste in the drip coffee. We thought it was from the standing water we had used to test our tanks during the install process.
We decided to run pure Reverse Osmosis water through it to purge out any "stale" water. In essence, we literally reenacted Moses' flood on our coffee brewer.
And after we did that the second (or was it the third..) time, it made the coffee taste better!
We went on with our coffee-brewing-lives thinking we had fixed the issue. The following day, our friends sent us a text message telling us the coffee we just served them tasted extra minerally. Cue brain-exploding emoji.
Mofo water issue was back.
Moreover, we realized the taste had also seeped into our steam wand and espresso machine as well.
Did we see the whole business flash in front of our eyes in that moment...
yes, yes we did.
So we made some calls, talked to some experts, and figured out that our plumbing was imparting a slight plastic/mineral taste to the water. Even though we used all food-grade tubing, it still was sensitive enough to impart unwanted flavors in the water. As our blog posts attest, coffee is 99% water, and what is in, or not in your water can make-or-break your coffee.
That day Christine's dad and I ripped out the old plumbing, installed new plumbing and added in a heavy duty carbon block filter. We drained the machines, retested the coffee, and finally took a sigh of relief.
It tasted delicious.
So, all that to say...
If you came between 4/13 and 4/18 you may have been an unlucky customer who experienced some version of our bad-water/coffee/equipment issues. And we are terribly sorry if we served you anything less than beautifully tasting coffee that you deserve.
So I tell this long story for a couple of reasons:
1) the community has been incredible supporting us and we believe that goes both ways. It's important for us as a business to be transparent, admit our failures, and take responsibility for them.
2) If you were one of those first 150 customers, we'd love to make you another cup of coffee. It literally hurts our heart to know that we made inadequate drinks that were anything less than what we believe in. We'd love to make you another drink, for free, do our best to make it a great experience, and let you judge the drinks for the way they're supposed to taste.
3) Thank you to those of you who were so kind in the way that you gave us feedback. If you ever taste anything off with your drinks, please let us know. You will be heard. We're all about the feedback and trying to do things as well as we can.
Here's the truth. Christine and I will continually be learning. Once we fix one issue, I guarantee you, something else will come up we need to focus our attention on. But that's okay, because the only way we could fail is if we become complacent. The only way we could fail our customers is by saying, "that's good enough." The only way we could fail ourselves is by being okay with "just okay".
As long as we are striving to serve you the best coffee we can humanely muster, we consider it a job well done.
You are all literally the best. You made our first week incredible. We can't wait to keep meeting you, talking with you, and having your faces at our front window shape our story.
photo cred: Adri Guyer