establishment shunning I

June 12, 2006 – 11:39 pm

surreal, really, to discover that the same bush-bred brother who mere months ago was roasting in a hand-woven wire basket and grinding with a mortar and pestle now boasts a set-up mechanically superior to my own — though the homemade espresso bar (complete with hand-hewn bamboo trim!) did flex a bit, under tamping pressure. well, ah … it flexed a lot. a pregnant pole vaulter’s got nuthin’ on my brother’s ‘spro bar.

but the vetrano, it of the paddle wheel pump, high-grade pressurestat and bruising boiler that’s insulated thicker than my own, was set up to do some serious damage. the sibling had it plumbed, in and out, with the flojet — so helpful in the pursuit of the elusive clarity. and quite frankly, i forgive him for the square-bottomed cups.

the ostensible purpose of this investment: college funding. this would appear to be either a gutsy/moronic move on the chicago turf of everyone’s favorite midwestern barista juggernaut or the most elaborate quasi-economic denial scheme ever hatched to justify the purchase of costly prosumer espresso equipment. (it should be noted: this brother is not yet blessed with a sensible wife who would require such a labyrinthian justification.) but the business model is quite simple — it’s a one-man catering gig. weddings, parties, receptions, bat mitzvahs. one guy, one indefatiguable machine and a lot of intrigued and wowed party goers impressed by the latte art.

and though this blog had to provide a crash course in temp surfing and sundry particulars, the project is already paying dividends. the placard needs a little work (“szobody’s sztellar eszpresso,” it said, or something similarly elegant) and the biz will take a bit to build. but it has me thinking about niche opportunities prime for amateurs and side-jobbers that don’t require venture capital. no overhead or payroll or rent. no universal dream of owning a cafe only to shutter under duress because location and pastry freshness and flavorings didn’t match up with a charbucked clienetele. no massive drink markup. no societal preconceptions. just an amateur, pushing the high-end envelope and evangelizing in places where few had thought to go.

the natural way in which (Critical Third-Wave Jargon alert) the coffee is on display is almost profound in its simplicity. not to mention, it got a few loose rocks tumbling around this blog’s sullen, cubicle-weary cranium …