The Arts District in North Hollywood is the perfect spot to people watch. You'll see a lot of the same people and just as many new people in just an hour's time. Some of them are Republic of Pie regulars, some just had their first slice of pie heaven, and others are just about to experience the best dirty chai latte of their life.
We've all had that feeling at one time, taking in the rustic wood sights, the fresh pastries stacked inside and out of the lit pastry cases, the scent of just brewed coffee fills the air, a man in a white coat with the RoP logo stitched on it hurries by with two beautiful slices of pie topped with that homemade whipped cream... "Mmm one of those will be mine in about 10 minutes" you think to yourself. You're greeted at the register by a friendly, young man with an impressive red beard and it's time to order. Keeping it relatively safe, you order a medium latte... not too big, not too small, to test the waters of this new place without asking too many questions. "Have you been here before?" he asks. Oh no! He saw right through my confident order placement... he knoooows! "Nope, this is my first time here! I've heard so much about this place and I just had to come check it out!" you say. "Fantastic! Welcome! I just want to show you our sizes real quick," he holds up two cups, one that looks the size of a small at your old corporate coffee place, and one even smaller "our medium is 8 ounces and our large is 10." Slightly shocked, you decide on a large instead.
As a barista, this is a common daily occurrence, but why? I'm first going to attribute it to the massive portion sizes that Americans are used to (didn't New York just ban Big Gulps?) I grew up in the U.S. and never noticed that it was unusual until an Aussie friend told me "I never finish anything I order out here. I order a small and it's still the size of a large back home!" What most new customers don't realize is that you've been trained to focus on the physical size of the cup and not the quality inside. From day one, my training as a barista at Republic of Pie has been to produce "The God Shot," (which is a blog post for another time but in short is another name for THE PERFECT espresso shot) to understand the best ratio of beans, the grind, the amount of water, water pressure, the amount of espresso produced when those elements are all put together... the amount of crema to body in the shot... you get the idea. Every drink made behind the bar is an attempt at including this perfect shot.
Alright, you understand the basis behind the shot itself, but why is the entire drink still so small in comparison to the foot tall ones at that other store? Well, are you drinking the latte for the milk or the coffee? (Here's a secret, that 50ouncer from that other place still has only 2 shots in it.) That 10oz cup you just ordered was made by a highly trained barista, has 2 shots of dialed in, hand tamped espresso, and the rest is perfectly steamed milk topped with real life, hand poured, latte art. The same techniques apply to any drinks you order from us, it might take a little longer than you're used to, might be a little smaller than you're used to, (if you're American) but we're giving you the highest quality we can give. I used to be the one to order those huge drinks elsewhere, until I was shown that I was really ordering for the sugary milky-ness with a hint of coffee... and now, when Helton pulls me a shot, I don't even want to put anything in it.
You're probably reading this because you've already experienced our beverages, or pie, or ambiance... maybe already went through the "the drinks are so small" phase, or you could be a future regular (Hi! Thanks for reading this blog!) but I hope this gives you a little bit of insight to our goals. Quality, not quantity, and just grazing the surface of the real art and science to producing a great espresso drink.