But some secrets are too delicious not to share.
~ Suzanne Collins
I have long forgotten his name, but I remember well the weight of his words. Something to the effect of: “you’ve got to make at least 500 coffees before you can even start practising being good at this. You know why? If you serve even one bad coffee – that customer will tell three friends, and each friend might tell another, and then your business will go bust. Now can you please tip what you just made into the sink, and start again?”
A few years ago when I graduated without a clue as to what to do next, I waltzed into a cafe and asked a man to teach me how to make coffee, just ‘cos. He thought he only taught me the basics of how to steam milk, make a good espresso and make a leaf pattern thing on the top of a latte; the truth is, my milk-steaming talents (?!) could do with a lot more work… but I learned a lot more. Practice practice practice. Passion. Skill. Craft. Successful business. Quality. Pride in one’s own work, even if it’s ‘just’ coffee. Keeping customers, not just getting them in.
One valuable thing about business he taught me then, that is so simple yet so often overlooked, is the importance of always being sincere and always making every last thing you sell bloody good so people come back, with their friends, again and again, always. (I imagine that feeds back a thousand times into one’s own soul and life too, loving people like that… love breeds more of the same, right?)
See, people talk about the two degrees of separation in New Zealand – it’s true. Everyone knows everyone (I began to experience this even in my first five years of living in this country). And word travels fast… always sooner rather than later.
Case in point: without the two degrees of separation and people-sharing-the-best-with-their-friends thing, I would probably not have embraced gusty unfamiliarity (windy Karori) and discovered Gipps St Deli. You see, way before I stepped through their doors, I heard one rather passionate review about Gipps St Deli’s brownie. So when a lovely friend of mine suggested an afternoon catch-up at the place, I jumped at the chance.
We stumbled into the place after a sunny and very gusty walk from the bus stop, and were met with a delightful looking spread of goodies. Light streamed in; I saw colourful cushions and white tables, a smiling girl behind the counter, art on the walls, and other things which made me feel instantly glad to be there. Perhaps it sounds cheesy to talk about liking a place at first sight. But that is how I felt.
We may have ordered a little too much for us two, but it was all very delicious and we had a substantial amount of roast veg left over which made a yummy meal for me today. Salad with crisp sweet apple matchsticks, a tasty risotto, perfectly seasoned and roasted vegetables, and slices of baking that were a pleasure to eat. See, I was so eager to tuck into the food that I was too impatient to take a proper photo:
Particularly dangerous was the coffee and walnut slice. I really don’t want to be addicted to ANY slice… but if I were ever to become a hopeless slice addict… this might well be it.
We polished off the brownie and slice between us. Too much sweetness, especially since I am partial to savoury flavours these days – but I lacked the willpower to leave any of it behind.
I know that before long, I’ll be closing other two-degree gaps with songs about the slice and sunshine at Gipps St Deli ;-) … starting with this post!
Gipps St Deli – 4 Gipps Street, Karori, Wellington – Phone: 04 476 4741