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a cup of mercantile

November 16, 2011

as i mentioned previously i wanted to try mercantile coffee because it made it into the top 3 coffee shops in the Big D magazine. i had high hopes due to the fact that they prepare Intelligentsia coffee, one of the first and best specialty roasters.

we found them located in down town near Neiman Marcus but as we walked in it was unusually empty. it was right before lunch, so not the busiest cafe time, but this is a big factor for me when i decide on a cafe. the decor was very open and had some interesting elements.i loved the use of their green walls and their art gallery is very important to their identity. they offer multiple types of roasted whole bean coffee including the celebration blend. they also feature frozen yogurt in equal standing with the coffee (probably a good business move in texas but did not show the dedication to coffee i was expecting from a Intelligentsia account).

 the elegant pour over stand holding their v 60s caught my eye, but had left over coffee grinds from previous brews in it. when we ordered the pour over a woman started the brew, by dumping water through the grinds without allowing the coffee to begin the brewing process. to make matters worse she walked off before completing the second pour and the drink had to be finished a few minutes later by the man who took our order. i could tell that this was should have been a  delicious coffee but the flavors were muted and the body was diluted because care had not been taken to brew it correctly. it was a disappointment.

we left to wander around the park near by and tried pho colonial, well worth the trip.

we returned to try the espresso, because hope springs eternal. we asked as we ordered if there would be latte art and about the difference between cappuccino and latte milk but she seemed to be more than a little confused on both points. our boiling hot latte, without any form of latte art, was handed to us a few minutes later but we would have to wait a few more before we could even sip it, much less taste the espresso. The espresso held its own but was not the flavor laden, bright entity i know that intelligentsia produces.  i hope that they realize the quality of the product they have and strive to prepare it at the same level in the future.

the theme of my article is not to be overly critical of a good cafe but the importance of standards in wholesale accounts. when working with coffee produced by intelligentsia, certain standards are expected. its essential that wholesale accounts meet these standards, because it reflects poorly on their purveyors,i.e. intelligentsia, when they are not being carried out. For roasters to continue to grow by selling to wholesale accounts they must have training and accountability that translates into the same level of coffee at all their cafes.

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