Thursday, November 30, 2006

Puerto Rican Coffee in Two Rivers, Wisconsin!

We're going to be getting some coffee in from Puerto Rico soon. This is "big news" stuff around here, as I suspect it would be anywhere. Actually the beans are already in to our roaster (Two Rivers Roasting Co.) and are waiting for the roast and transformation into some unbelievable coffee.

This is a big deal because the availability of Puerto Rican coffee is a comparitively rare thing here in the states. It's one of the top three super premium coffees and is eagerly sought after by ardent coffee lovers and, as such, commands a very respectable price. I'll detail this further in a follow-up post, but I wanted to get this initial news out there as we're pretty excited about it.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Lakeshore's Rising Stars

The Stumpjack Coffee Company is one of the sponsors of Lakeshore's Rising Stars Christmas/Encore Show that takes place December 19th at the Capitol Civic Centre in Manitowoc. This show is going to be a blast! As the web design guy and "Business Manager" for the producers of Lakeshore's Rising Stars! I can tell you that if you live in the area and are able to get tickets you really should make every effort to see this show because the guys (Terry & Riley) have really put together a fantastic and fun program. (If you don't live in the area and it's too far to drive then...well...too, too bad for you!!)

Check out the Lakeshore's Rising Stars! website here, and look for LRS 2007 updates and info on the same site soon.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Good Service = Good Business

I'm writing this entry from a wide, fat and comfortable chair in front of an attractive gas fireplace in a deluxe suite at the Bridgeport Resort in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. It's a little after 3:00 a.m., Tuesday the 21st, and I'm awake because I've unintentionally conditioned myself to sleep less hours than I really need (and I do really need more sleep...) and I went to sleep earlier than usual last night. Yesterday was Monday, a closed day at the Stumpjack, and after doing a few hours of work there in the morning Kim and I drove up to Algoma to pick up some wine from the von Stiehl Winery for our inventory at the Stump.

We had also tentatively planned to spend this day at some place in Door County as an anniversary present to ourselves. Today we experienced two instances of outstanding service and thoughtfulness, the kind of service that every business (and, for that matter, personal relationship and interaction as well) ought to reach for.

First, our visit to von Stiehl yesterday only served to reinforce our positive impression and fondness for this fantastic winery. Their wines are wonderful and the people equally great. Brad (co-owner along with his brother) has treated us with efficiency (filling our orders quickly and completely), professionalism (doing excellent damage control for difficulties we experienced with their regional distributor) and thoughtfulness (a complimentary bottle of wine or jar of mustard to enjoy during our getaway; helping to carry our purchase to our car). Those latter things may be relatively small gestures, but those seemingly small things go a long way toward making for loyal customers and friends who are eager to spread the word about a favorite company (like I'm doing right now). And it sure doesn't hurt that they make a number of great wines that we have no trouble moving at the Stumpjack.

Next, the Bridgeport Resort in Sturgeon Bay, a place we've stayed at before and found to be clean, very attractive and within our means. The experience we had there this time has forced us to be not only repeat guests but also word-of-mouth advertisers. I usually like to haggle on room rates when we go somewhere, especially on weekdays or second night stays. And I have to admit that I do take a small measure of satisfaction in my ability to get a better deal more often than not (although even if I don't win the haggle I will stay at a place regardless, if the reception person is friendly and courteous; and likewise I will never return to a hotel or resort if the person is snippy or rude).

On this occasion at the Bridgeport I was bested at my game by an exceptionally pleasant, good humored and joyful person, who also happened to be the General Manager. I looked at each of the lower rate rooms and thought I could get the slightly better of the two for the next lower room rate, but she sucker-punched me by offering us one of the even larger and more expensive suites at the initial lower room rate! Plus, as it was my wife's and my anniversary getaway (albeit a week late) she also handed us a bottle of nice red wine.

The room was fantastic, with three rooms and a fireplace in each one, a 4 to 6 person jacuzzi, separate vanities, kitchenette, comfy bed... Awesome. We were totally rejuvinated and recharged. The kind of welcome we were greeted with and the way the staff went out of their way to make our stay a fun one has ensured that we will be staying at the Bridgeport Resort again and again. Thanks Denise!

Contrast these two businesses with experiences we've likely all had where staff have been curt or downright rude, impatient or inattentive, who give nothing more than the most basic service attached to their product. How difficult can it be to be friendly and courteous, to have a customer-oriented attitude (or better put, simply a friendly attitude)? The folks at von Stiehl and Bridgeport Resort get it...and I never cease to be amazed by those who don't get it.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Stumpjack la Pavoni Bar S model

This is our La Pavoni. We've received a lot of compliments, oohs & aahs on the look of this machine. We wanted something that had a retro look to it, yet didn't look "vintage" like the eagle-domed copper/brass Gensaco or Elektra (as gorgeous as those machines are...I'd love to eventually acquire an Elektra Belle Epoque...unbelievably beautiful).

Plus, it was important to us to have a semi-automatic levered machine, that reinforced the attitude we wanted to present of hand crafted drinks and greater involvement and skill from the barista.

Thus far, I've been pretty pleased with the performance of the machine, although there are one or two design alterations I would make if I could. One, I'd make the steam wands an inch or two longer and/or have a greater joint distance at the elbow. There's not as much clearance and room to adjust a pitcher when steaming as I'd like.

I'd also add an inch to an inch & a half to the depth of the cup warmer holding tray on top. To be able to have one more row of cups up there would be much appreciated, and that extra depth shouldn't detract from the the design or practicality of the machine, I wouldn't think.

I'm going to replace the PF handles, steam knobs and levers with turned wood ones, either cherry (red) or black walnut (dark brown). Any problems or challenges we've dealt with with this machine are, I feel, compensated for by the "wow" factor and numerous compliments it gets from people. What people see and perceive can't be discounted where it concerns their overall experience in the shop.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Still just a puppy...

I was intending to open the shop today (we could use the money) but have decided against it as there is still so much to do here, so many little odds & ends, and I need a day of doing things at my own pace and without interruption. I've been meaning to get this blog going for months now, along with our web site, but have just not been willing to make it the priority it needs to be, what with so many other tasks that still need attention. But today I'm just saying "screw it" to fretting over everything I'm going to lie on the couch in back, in the semi-darkness and just relax for a few hours, drink some Guatemalan, get the blog set up and maybe put together my book outline. These 17-hour workdays are starting to take their toll on my mental and physical health, and Tuesdays are, afterall, "Open By Chance" days. Might even take a short nap...

Today is Kim's and my anniversary. She's at a food manager's course right now and I'm here at the Stump, ostensibly working. We'll get away for a day and night next week. Maybe take a night at the Blacksmith Inn up in Baileys Harbor, where we spent our second honeymoon (or the first, depending on how you look at it...long story). A modest getaway but relaxing, picturesque and much appreciated. And tomorrow's my birthday, which is a full workday besides. No complaints...long hours and little time off come with the commitment of starting any business seriously, and I'll get into that more thoroughly in succeeding entries.

But for now, I'm horizontal, listening to the King Dexter All-Stars, drinking good coffee with a warm laptop on my belly...and am actually getting something done. Let's see how this initial effort appears on the screen...

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Thank you!

Hey, thanks very much for taking this little survey. We value your help in making Stumpjack as good as we can. This thing is, after all, a community effort and your input is mighty important.