Blendz' Coffee Academy (Artigiano vet?)

coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee

Blendz' Coffee Academy (Artigiano vet?)

Postby Mark Prince on Fri May 25, 2007 5:57 pm

Saw this on my newswire today:

Blendz Coffee Academy

One name jumped out though Layla Osberg - is that the Layla who used to work for Artigiano?

So should we be scared, or happy about this? Is it a non issue?

I do encourage Blendz to ramp up their barista training - Lord knows they need it - but they also need to ramp up their coffee quality drastically too.

Anyone know any more about this?

Mark
Last edited by Mark Prince on Fri Jun 08, 2007 12:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Mark Prince
Just in it for the espresso and coffee, Vancouver BC
Mark Prince
 
Posts: 1064
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 10:13 am
Location: vancouver bc
full name: Mark Prince
company: CoffeeGeek.com
: www.CoffeeGeek.com

Postby Mike Yung on Fri Jun 01, 2007 8:10 pm

One name jumped out though Layla Osberg - is that the Layla who used to work for Artigiano?


Yes...
Mike Yung
 
Posts: 39
Joined: Sat Apr 22, 2006 10:03 pm
Location: Vancouver
full name: Michael Yung
company: (Unaffiliated)

Postby Jimmy Oneschuk on Sat Jun 02, 2007 6:16 pm

Correction: Blenz
Jimmy Oneschuk
 
Posts: 664
Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2005 3:34 pm
Location: Saskatoon
full name: Jimmy Oneschuk
company: Museo
: espressolab.ca

Postby Mark Prince on Sat Jun 02, 2007 9:56 pm

I feel bad about this original post.

If Layla is involved, it looks like Blenz is really trying to amp up their coffee service in their cafes.

I haven't had much high hopes for Blenz in the past because I got to know two of their franchisees (the buyers of franchises), and my overall impression is the company really nicked and dimed franchisees to death, and often forsook quality for making whatever extra pennies they could here and there.

But instead of posting this thread, I should have posted something more optimistic about what appears to be a corner turn for this chain. If viewed in a positive light, this is something celebrate - a chain that, previously, didn't really seem to take "the art of the barista" that seriously, is now appearing to do so. I just don't hope the barista acadamy is all about teaching how to pour latte art and nothing else ;)

I should get in touch with Layla and the powers that be. It might make an interesting CG article.

Mark
Mark Prince
Just in it for the espresso and coffee, Vancouver BC
Mark Prince
 
Posts: 1064
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 10:13 am
Location: vancouver bc
full name: Mark Prince
company: CoffeeGeek.com
: www.CoffeeGeek.com

Postby phaelon56 on Sun Jun 03, 2007 5:25 am

A Blenz shop in Vancouver is the place where the barista assured me (he was not kidding) that the reddish brown crema I was hoping to see on top of my double shot would be a sure sign of bitterness and bad espresso. Yeah... I think training could only help.
Owen O'Neill
Syracuse NY

Phaelon Coffee
and
New York Central Coffee Roasters
phaelon56
 
Posts: 736
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2005 5:58 am
Location: Syracuse, NY
full name: Owen O'Neill
company: Phaelon Coffee / New York Central Coffee

Postby bz on Sun Jun 03, 2007 7:36 pm

all i know is, layla won today's latte art comp, snaring $21,000 for a heart pour -- $1,000 from millrock, $20,000 from her boss.

seems like there are a lot of working baristi who would like to sign up with such a boss... :wink:
bz
 
Posts: 123
Joined: Thu Apr 13, 2006 6:49 am
Location: greenville, sc
full name: ben szobody
company: n/a

Postby Ryan Willbur on Sun Jun 03, 2007 8:47 pm

Someone willing to pay 20k for latte art must be looking to step up the marketing and put the word 'Champion' on something... seems kinda shallow.
Ryan Willbur
http://www.rwillbur.com
@RWillbur
Ryan Willbur
 
Posts: 355
Joined: Mon Sep 18, 2006 12:05 pm
Location: Seattle, WA
full name: Ryan Willbur
company: La Marzocco USA

Postby Jason Haeger on Sun Jun 03, 2007 9:46 pm

Ryan Willbur wrote:Someone willing to pay 20k for latte art must be looking to step up the marketing and put the word 'Champion' on something... seems kinda shallow.


I'm inclined to agree. This wasn't the first attempt either.

http://www.blenz.com/press_releases.aspx (March 8th)
Jason Haeger
 
Posts: 557
Joined: Fri Feb 10, 2006 1:07 am
Location: Lubbock, TX
full name: Jason Haeger
company: AJ Coffee Company | EspressoTrainer.com
: http://ajcoffeeco.com
: http://espressotrainer.com

Postby Mark Prince on Sun Jun 03, 2007 10:33 pm

My main worry (did I write this above?) is that the academy is going to focus on pours, and not the taste of the product, but benefit of the doubt, benefit of the doubt... Big congrats to Layla fo winning the competition!

Mark
Mark Prince
Just in it for the espresso and coffee, Vancouver BC
Mark Prince
 
Posts: 1064
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 10:13 am
Location: vancouver bc
full name: Mark Prince
company: CoffeeGeek.com
: www.CoffeeGeek.com

Postby onocoffee on Mon Jun 04, 2007 4:55 am

$50,000 for each of the 7 lots of the winning Esmeralda.

$20,000 to win the Latte Art competition.


Are we saying that one is more vulgar than the other???
Jay Caragay

Lono
new explorations in coffee + cuisine.
onocoffee
 
Posts: 1209
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 1:30 pm
Location: Towson, MD
full name: Jay Caragay
company: spiral jetty
: www.sprocoffee.com
: onocoffee.blogspot.com

Postby Jimmy Oneschuk on Mon Jun 04, 2007 5:56 am

Why should anyone believe this is anything more than a marketing ploy?

Let's all call our training programs Coffee Academies then write press releases! LOL

Anyhow, I think we're giving Blenz a little more attention than it deserves.... :)
Jimmy Oneschuk
 
Posts: 664
Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2005 3:34 pm
Location: Saskatoon
full name: Jimmy Oneschuk
company: Museo
: espressolab.ca

Postby Mike Paras on Mon Jun 04, 2007 6:13 am

Do other companies reward thier baristas for winning barista competitions? Is this an unprecedented amount?
Michael Paras
coffee enthusiast
no coffee affiliations
http://www.smallcoffee.com
Mike Paras
 
Posts: 82
Joined: Mon Mar 27, 2006 6:23 am
Location: Chicago, IL

Postby Ryan Willbur on Mon Jun 04, 2007 7:36 am

I've heard of incentives being thrown all around... I think it's safe to say that yes, doing well in competition can offer way more than the face value of the competition, but I'm pretty sure this one takes the cake by a long shot... Especially if there are no strings attached... Man, if I had 21 grand... Yeah, you'd see me in Japan... and Nordicup...
Ryan Willbur
http://www.rwillbur.com
@RWillbur
Ryan Willbur
 
Posts: 355
Joined: Mon Sep 18, 2006 12:05 pm
Location: Seattle, WA
full name: Ryan Willbur
company: La Marzocco USA

Postby Mark Prince on Mon Jun 04, 2007 1:51 pm

onocoffee wrote:$50,000 for each of the 7 lots of the winning Esmeralda.

$20,000 to win the Latte Art competition.


Are we saying that one is more vulgar than the other???


To be fair, the prize was $1,000, same as it always is. The rest came from her boss (check being presented tomorrow) - what the company does is their own thing, and didn't take away (or grant) anything to the comp, or to the competitors who didn't win.

That's a difference from the BoP, at least in my opinion.

As for it being purely marketing by Blenz.... of course it is! I think every latte art competition is, at the end of the day, about marketing a product. But bidding $130 on a coffee is just as marketing driven. If any of the buyers are planning on selling it for $25 a cup / $150 per half lb, then maybe it's a profit driven thing too, but marketing, IMO, played a huge role in this and previous years' BoP.

edit - the more I think about this, the more I think "marketing" is a pure byproduct of what they want to do (Blenz). As a chain, I'm betting their staff turnover is through the roof. So why not create a situation where you show, within the chain, that excellence in Barista crafts is not only supported, but rewarded? Show that if you step up, stay on, learn the skills, excel at the skills, this is a place you can work at for years and enjoy it, and if you're good enough, maybe even be completely, handsomely rewarded by the owners (or corp headquarters).

I spoke briefly with the CEO of Blenz just a short while ago. This isn't going to be a one time thing. They plan to not only continue taking part in latte art championships, but are looking at both internal and public (ie national) comps and jams.

So maybe the $20,000 is money that's going to be REALLY well spent if it is part of a program to aid in employee retention and infusing a sense of "my job is not a mcJob" in their new corporate philosophy.


Mark
PS - Interesting side note about Layla. I remember just being amazed by her barista skills back in 2002, 2003, and once the Canadian championships started, I tried to convince her to enter. She always was very against doing so, because of self-professed nerves - so it's particularly awesome to see her in a competition format. I hope she plans to enter the 2007 CNBC - she'll stir things up. She really is a first rate barista.
Mark Prince
Just in it for the espresso and coffee, Vancouver BC
Mark Prince
 
Posts: 1064
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 10:13 am
Location: vancouver bc
full name: Mark Prince
company: CoffeeGeek.com
: www.CoffeeGeek.com

Postby Troy Reynard on Mon Jun 04, 2007 5:19 pm

Someone willing to pay 20k for latte art must be looking to step up the marketing and put the word 'Champion' on something... seems kinda shallow.


Why should anyone believe this is anything more than a marketing ploy?

Let's all call our training programs Coffee Academies then write press releases! LOL

Anyhow, I think we're giving Blenz a little more attention than it deserves....


C'mon folks, we can't be on one hand saying chains (like Starbucks) suck, and they don't care about barista skills, then on the other get in line to rip on a chain that puts it's money where our mouth is. I think it's great that a multinational chain is willing to put resources into hiring a quality person, and then rewarding her for accomplishment. And to do it up front, in public, there's that transparency we're looking for...
Troy Reynard
Espresso Gladiator
"This IS Cosmic Cup!
http://www.cosmiccupcoffee.com
Troy Reynard
 
Posts: 104
Joined: Wed Oct 25, 2006 5:08 am
Location: Easton, PA
full name: Troy Reynard
company: Cosmic Cup Coffee Company
: www.cosmiccupcoffee.com

Postby Ryan Willbur on Mon Jun 04, 2007 7:21 pm

I'm pretty sure Blenz is going to be screaming to the public about their champion, but I doubt they are being (purposely) so public on the extra 20G's
Ryan Willbur
http://www.rwillbur.com
@RWillbur
Ryan Willbur
 
Posts: 355
Joined: Mon Sep 18, 2006 12:05 pm
Location: Seattle, WA
full name: Ryan Willbur
company: La Marzocco USA

Postby Mark Prince on Mon Jun 04, 2007 7:31 pm

Ryan Willbur wrote:I'm pretty sure Blenz is going to be screaming to the public about their champion, but I doubt they are being (purposely) so public on the extra 20G's


Actually, that's a false assessment, it appears. There's an "event" tomorrow that, along with reopening their flagship store at Broadway and Granville, there's going to be a public handing over of the the check, and the press is invited locally.

More importantly, it appears they want this to get out to their workforce that this is what is to come for their workers in the future if they're serious about coffee.

I was invited as press, but I'll be at Alistair's party at that time.

Mark
PS - IMO, this is all something I think we should all be embracing, and not panning. It's a big chain showing recognition to their barista. While their barista trainer is the first to get it from them, all indications show similar kinds of things are going to be open to over 700 barista within their chain in the future.
Mark Prince
Just in it for the espresso and coffee, Vancouver BC
Mark Prince
 
Posts: 1064
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 10:13 am
Location: vancouver bc
full name: Mark Prince
company: CoffeeGeek.com
: www.CoffeeGeek.com

Postby Ryan Willbur on Mon Jun 04, 2007 8:42 pm

It would be rad if you're right Mark. To see someone with that kind of work force step up to the plate, it could be an epic statement... I guess we will see...
Ryan Willbur
http://www.rwillbur.com
@RWillbur
Ryan Willbur
 
Posts: 355
Joined: Mon Sep 18, 2006 12:05 pm
Location: Seattle, WA
full name: Ryan Willbur
company: La Marzocco USA

Postby Mike Yung on Mon Jun 04, 2007 9:33 pm

I know a few people who work at Blenz, of whom some are at the Library Square location...

It will be interesting to find out if this "Coffee Academy" will focus more on the presentation (latte art) or the product (damn good espresso and bar techniques)... I will wait to see what happens in the next littl while, but I know that the coffee quality just isn't there right now. They still have vanilla (or other)-flavoured coffee beans for sale. Anyone else been to a Blenz recently?
Mike Yung
 
Posts: 39
Joined: Sat Apr 22, 2006 10:03 pm
Location: Vancouver
full name: Michael Yung
company: (Unaffiliated)

Postby Mark Prince on Mon Jun 04, 2007 10:32 pm

mike wrote:I will wait to see what happens in the next littl while, but I know that the coffee quality just isn't there right now.


A senior person with the company (okay, the CEO) admits as much, especially when put against the top tier stuff locally, like the 49ths and the Origins and other places. I didn't query him on where he felt his coffee was agains Canterbury or Starbucks.

He was quite frank with me and told me everything he had to say in our informal talk was on the record. He said we had two paths - go the training route, or go the coffee route. Because of their volume of beans used every day, the bean quality will be going through a 2-5 year change, that includes possible involvement in things like CoE's second tier program with the NCA, perhaps even CoE itself, just as an example.

Their immediate changes are in the training - which they want to tackle quite vigorously. For me, I'd see signs of that happening when Blenz not only enters 2 or more competitors in barista competitions, but has them place well. But as the guy was talking to me, the whole any coffee, any grinder, any machine thing was just ringing in my head. He readily admits their coffee quality could be better, but he also believes (as do I) that acceptable coffee can be made into good, perhaps even very good (and on a god shot day great) drinks with a good set of skills behind it all.

I'm not cheerleading Blenz here. I'm cheerleading the concept that a small chain can get super serious about quality, differentiate themselves from other similar sized chains, have better trained staff, better retention, and show an appreciation for the art of the barista. If they pull it off, and he said himself they've given themselves a "nearly impossible task", I hope all of us applaud it.

Mark
PS - I told the guy to spend some time examining the Aussie market where small chains seem to be driving quality lately, or at least matching some of the best independents.
Mark Prince
Just in it for the espresso and coffee, Vancouver BC
Mark Prince
 
Posts: 1064
Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 10:13 am
Location: vancouver bc
full name: Mark Prince
company: CoffeeGeek.com
: www.CoffeeGeek.com

Postby Rich Westerfield on Wed Jun 06, 2007 11:31 am

Rich Westerfield, Co-owner
aldocoffee.com
I'm just here to regulate funkiness.
Rich Westerfield
 
Posts: 565
Joined: Sat May 13, 2006 8:23 pm
Location: Pittsburgh

Postby barry on Thu Jun 07, 2007 11:56 am

mike wrote:I know that the coffee quality just isn't there right now. They still have vanilla (or other)-flavoured coffee beans for sale.


what does selling flavored coffee have to do with overall coffee quality?
barry
 
Posts: 1137
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2005 6:33 pm
Location: St. Louis, Missouri
full name: T. Barry Jarrett
company: Coffee Projects Inc.

Postby Richard Hartnell on Fri Jun 08, 2007 11:14 am

barry wrote:
mike wrote:I know that the coffee quality just isn't there right now. They still have vanilla (or other)-flavoured coffee beans for sale.


what does selling flavored coffee have to do with overall coffee quality?


Same thing that selling wine coolers would have to do with a market that still held a belief that they were a better ("tastier") purchase than a similarly priced bottle of estate wine.

Not to overuse the tired wine analogy, but hey.
Richard Hartnell
Festival Espresso
Bellingham, WA
Richard Hartnell
 
Posts: 171
Joined: Sun May 14, 2006 8:40 pm
Location: Bellingham, WA
full name: Richard Hartnell
company: Festival Espresso

Postby barry on Fri Jun 08, 2007 11:26 am

Richard Hartnell wrote:
barry wrote:
mike wrote:I know that the coffee quality just isn't there right now. They still have vanilla (or other)-flavoured coffee beans for sale.


what does selling flavored coffee have to do with overall coffee quality?


Same thing that selling wine coolers would have to do with a market that still held a belief that they were a better ("tastier") purchase than a similarly priced bottle of estate wine.



so, i guess folks who believe that a shot of espresso drenched in steamed milk & milk foam is better ("tastier") purchase than a straight shot of espresso somehow impacts the overall quality of the coffee? wine coolers are a separate product category from estate wine, just as iced capps are separate product from straight espresso shots. the one does not necessarily influence the other, and superior quality is possible at every level.
barry
 
Posts: 1137
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2005 6:33 pm
Location: St. Louis, Missouri
full name: T. Barry Jarrett
company: Coffee Projects Inc.

Postby Richard Hartnell on Fri Jun 08, 2007 11:46 am

I don't doubt that one can make the flavored coffee to rule them all. But I reserve skepticism, since I feel like we could be trying to afford our farmers and roasters the respect they deserve as artisans before suggesting that coffee deserves doctoring.
Richard Hartnell
Festival Espresso
Bellingham, WA
Richard Hartnell
 
Posts: 171
Joined: Sun May 14, 2006 8:40 pm
Location: Bellingham, WA
full name: Richard Hartnell
company: Festival Espresso

Next

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests