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Cyle Talley

Get Smart about third wave coffee

Ar 160829560
Shaun Stanley/BCI Media file

Patrick Booth, proprietor of Bedhead Coffeehouse, takes a break between customers last October.
Ar 160829560
Shaun Stanley/BCI Media file

Patrick Booth, proprietor of Bedhead Coffeehouse, takes a break between customers last October.

Tall skinny vanilla latte in sixty seconds or less? Not the life to live. Let Patrick Booth of Bedhead Coffeehouse tell you about taking the time to make you the perfect espresso shot, steaming your milk just right, and setting an ambiance that’ll make you take notice of the craft of coffee.

What does “third wave” mean?Third wave [has] to do with relationships that people have to and with coffee and the process of soil to cup. How I look at it is we’re going back to our origins, not only the origin of the coffee itself, but also how we gather to drink it.

What differentiates third wave coffeehouses?This sounds corny – but quality is what I’m aiming for. Whenever you start a business, you think about what you’re going to do to differentiate yourself. This is not to say that other shops aren’t shooting for quality, but that’s what I’m aiming for. That’s number one. That’s why often times I’m a little bit slower. That’s why I’ll redo [espresso] shots, because they just didn’t come out right.

Does that slowness hinder customers?I either have a really cool customer base, or customers are really great in general. I’ve always worked on the engineering side of things – the back office, IT, software development – and thought that I would have a tough time with customers. I’m an introvert. But they’re [customers] awesome. They’re inquisitive, they’re interested in the coffee and where it’s coming from. The conversations, getting to know faces and drinks – it’s wonderful. I get a lot of customers who come in with an idea of what they want. A dark roast, say. They want a dark roast and they want it fast, and so I send them with an Americano. But what’s fascinating is that when someone tries a pourover, when they look at the coffees and they’re not quite sure, or they have a history of drinking only darker roasts – which I did – and then they walk out saying, “You know, I don’t even need milk with this! It’s so smooth!” That’s the part that’s really cool, and it happens a lot. It’s always gratifying.

Is there a specific drink you love to make?Getting the perfect espresso shot, which is ever changing and never achievable. [laughs] You might pull a hundred shots and get one that is the quintessential. But always trying to get that perfect taste – balance, smoothness. That’s what I enjoy most on the technical side of coffee. It’s a lot more difficult to get the perfect espresso shot than it is to get the perfect pourover. There’s a lot less fudge factor with the pressure and the heat and how the beans react.

You have more espresso varieties than you do flavors for your lattes.The vanilla syrup is actually an in-house concoction that I came up with using vanilla beans and maple syrup. It’s not a flavor. We’re trying to stay as close to organic as we can. Not only certified organic on the dairy side, but also using pure ingredients. Our mochas are made with cream and chocolate shavings.

Is that focus on the coffee bean indicative of third wave?You’ve got to offer something for the people who are trying it out – they might still want vanilla or chocolate, although the mochas are so good that even I will dive into one on a rainy day. I think, though, that’s indicative of third wave and specialty coffee is to focus on the coffee. Most people who are third wave owners like me, will refuse to put anything in their coffees. Some shops serve their coffee at room temperature because they feel they get more of the taste.

The espresso machine is displayed for all to see ...It’s a little nerve-wracking, especially when the [espresso] shots aren’t going the way that I want them to go, because everyone sees it. I have customers now who say, “Oh, it looks like the shot is a little short.” [looks aggrieved] “Yes, I know. Thank you very much.” [laughs] But that’s kind of cool! I get a little excited when customers know why I’ve shut the espresso shot down short. “Oh, it looks like it was coming out too slow,” they’ll say. Or maybe too fast. And it’s like, “Yes! You’re right!” And they know why! They might say, “Seems a little humid outside.” And that’s so cool! I love that the [espresso] machine is out and at a level where everyone can see what I’m doing regardless of their height. They can see how the milk is steamed. They’ll comment, they’ll ask questions. Sometimes I won’t answer right away because I’m in the middle of focusing, but I’ll answer after the milk is done or the shot is pulled. That arrangement turned out to be a good move. It was a long shot, no pun intended, because most machines are set up so that the barista doesn’t interact with the people. It’s distracting and, at times, has messed me up because I’ve focused on the question rather than what I was doing, so I’ve learned to wait until I’m through with the coffee to answer their questions. But that interaction, I wouldn’t give that up for anything.

Cyle Talley doesn’t like flavored lattes, but Patrick’s vanilla latte is a game-changer. If there’s anything you’d like to Get Smart about, email him at: cyle@cyletalley.com