Saturday, March 08, 2008

   from AndyS

The most unpretentious Clover shop

Last week I headed down to NYC by car. A casual search on the Coffee Equipment Company website showed that the Electric City Roasting Company in Scranton, PA had a Clover machine. Since Scranton was roughly at the halfway point in my ride, a visit there seemed like the perfect way to take a break from driving.

Most of the shops where you've had Clover coffee are probably big names in specialty coffee: Intelly, Stumptown, etc. This was different. Zummo's Cafe (Electric City's retail shop) turned out to be a completely unpretentious neighborhood cafe in a working-class area. The place was un-Bauhaus, un-Deco, and "un-designer," yet very comfortable. And on a Saturday afternoon there was just one barista -- Erin -- on duty. She made coffee, worked the register, did housekeeping, and talked to customers as a one-woman show.

First I ordered a double espresso; Erin prepared it on the big Faema NoStop. Served in a nice ceramic cup, I was initially put off by the huge volume, probably 3.5 oz. It was sort of half way between an espresso and an americano, I guess. But the shot was pleasantly unbitter and I enjoyed slowly sipping on it.

Poking around the shop and reading newspaper clippings on the wall, I slowly learned how this place had come about. Mary Tellie, a former banker, had decided she loved coffee more than banking. So she opened her own roastery. There were numerous pics of Mary, big smile on her face, posing with groups of farmers at origin. Apparently Mary's personal implementation of the direct trade model was at the core of her business plan.

I eventually finished the espresso and asked for a small mug of Panama Esmeralda. It was gratifying that they offered a small size rather than the ridiculous oversize buckets that many Clover shops force you to order. But I didn't really know what to expect. Would it inspire, or disappoint?

Well, the cup was terrific -- undoubtedly the best one I've ever had at a "neighborhood" shop. I enjoyed nice mellow acidity, a big hit of black tea flavor, and huge orangy fruit.

It's a big coffee world, with plenty of room for both the fancy and the not-so-fancy. I left very happy to have experienced Mary Tellie's simple and heartfelt corner of it.


Anonymous Mark said...

Tell u what, I'm liking this new AndyBlog that's taking hold here!

3/08/2008 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger onocoffee said...

I think this should become " presents Andy S."

Sounds like a nice time and I hate to be the dissenter...BUT...

I find it completely and utterly odd (verging on stupid) that shops would put up huge (or just large) menu boards and A-frame signs with an automated brewer splashed all over it. Looks to me that you visited a shop named after an automated brewer rather than Zummo's Cafe.

As much as I am a fan of La Marzocco, I don't create a "La Marzocco Menu", and I wasn't handed a "Bonnet Menu" at Thomas Kellers' per se, nor a "Montague Menu" at the Ruth's Chris (both of which are cooking suites, for those not familiar) - and I hope to God that Cheesecake Factory isn't presenting their customers with "Combi-Therm" or "Rethermalizing" menus - both of which are some of the "latest and greatest in cooking technology, and far more expensive than an automated brewer.

3/10/2008 05:03:00 AM  
Blogger AndyS said...


Stop bullshitting. Despite what you say, you LOVE to be the dissenter.

Zummo's owner Mary Tellie wrote in an email, "We love what the Clover does for the coffee." Mary's shop is a testament to her passion for her product. If you don't like her marketing approach, that's OK.

3/10/2008 04:49:00 PM  
Blogger onocoffee said...


To me, it's not a point of "liking" or "disliking" the marketing position, I think it's just "odd" and "weird" that we (as a community) have become overtly focused on the machinery.

Why not have a "Fetco Menu"?

It just seems that after spending eleven thousand dollars on an automated brewer, one would be apt to justifying it by any and all means.

3/10/2008 07:58:00 PM  
Anonymous brett said...

I am getting really tired of reading "after spending eleven thousand dollars on an automated brewer blah blah blah..."

Can't we all just know that Jay hates the price of the clover and the culture of the clover.

Would the coffee some how be better if you ground the coffee with your back molars and brewed it in your fists? You could send out press releases touting the cheapness (no, freeness!) of your new brewing method. You could expound on your tongues ability to detect just the right grind size and your hands ability to tell just what temperature the water is at.

3/11/2008 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

Mary Tellie is as driven a coffee soul as any I've come across. Her passion (I believe she worked on her Autobahn espresso blend for 5 years?) for her beans and her product overall is inspiring. Oh, and Jay? This is the place I mentioned to you (while in Easton)that has the CIA grad running the daily operations.
Besides, it's a hand-drawn clover logo, and I think it will look nice in my shop, too.

3/11/2008 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger onocoffee said...


It's not about "hating" anything. Like I said, I think it's "weird" and "odd" that our community has such a machine obsession that overshadows that of our actual product: coffee.

re: you molar comment
Unlike the current trend of touting a (automated) brew machine, I don't go out and tout whatever brew methodology we practice (currently French Press and espresso). Nor will I go out and tout the brew methods of our new venture (probably French Press, VacPot, Chemex and espresso).

To me, it's not the machine that's newsworthy, it's the product. I want our customers to seek us out because they've heard that we offer amazing and delicious coffees - not because we've spend an inordinate and exorbitant amount of money as a beta-tester for a potential Starbucks rollout.

I want delicious product to be our hallmark - not some machine.

Which is really just a different approach to business.

Yes, I remember you mentioning her place. I hope she does well.

And I hope your automated brewer logo'd shop does well too because I need more places to visit and hang out in while traveling.

You just will not be seeing one of those exorbitant automated brewers in any of my operations - just as you wouldn't see a Versalab machine.

3/12/2008 08:00:00 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

Touche, Mr. Caragay.
I think you'd have to agree, however, that for the average non-coffee industry consumer, the little bit of press that the Clover has gotten in the NYTimes,, etc. has really struck a chord. it's just good marketing to put that logo in your shop.
Hell, you should probably consider putting it up regardless of the actual machine's presence...It's a valid point, that's all I'm saying.

3/12/2008 08:33:00 AM  
Anonymous sarahdelilah said...

don't miss the april/may issue of barista mag, which will feature a profile of mary tellie -- an honor for us!


3/12/2008 05:48:00 PM  
Blogger AndyS said...

Hi Jay, you said:
> To me, it's not the machine that's newsworthy, it's the product.
> I want our customers to seek us out because they've heard that we
> offer amazing and delicious coffees

Perhaps I misled you when I titled the post "The most unpretentious Clover shop." Mary doesn't call her cafe a "Clover shop." I don't think it says Clover anywhere out front. And when you go inside, you have to pass the brewed coffee and espresso machine before you get to the Clover menu.

But Mary is quite definite in her feeling that the Clover brings out the best in her coffee, and that some of her customers are more interested because they've heard the Clover buzz.

Perhaps you'd be positive about the Clover, too, if Z hadn't refused to kiss your ring. (Just kidding about that.) 8-)

3/12/2008 07:15:00 PM  
Blogger AndyS said...

Sarah, I foolishly let my magazine subscription expire a long time ago. But tonight I resubscribed. Looking forward to the Apr/May issue. Thanks.

3/12/2008 07:17:00 PM  
Anonymous brett said...


My first comment was entirely rhetorical.

Do you really think a machine is the hallmark of Mary's business? Is it the hallmark of anyones business? Whose? Really I want to know.

How is the Clover any more automated than a french press?

3/12/2008 09:42:00 PM  
Blogger onocoffee said...

You did not mislead. I did not have the impression that Ms. Tellie named her shop after the automated brewer. But the very large chalkboard sign is still weird and odd to me because it's a focus on the machine - as though it's some magical hocus-pocus.

Since she's a CIA Grad, I would surmise that she might find it odd to walk into a restaurant to see a "CombiTherm Menu" on the wall.

re: your "kiss your ring" comment:
Perhaps you don't know me very well, but I never have the expectation to be lauded or fussed over when I meet or interact with people. To anyone I consider a friend or colleague, I openly, warmly and genuinely extend my hand in friendship. There's no pretense behind that extension of my hand and to have that ignored, doubted and questioned is an arrogant slap in the face of which I take serious offense.

Something to consider in my comments is that I have been very open and transparent about this incident, both through online forum topics and the Podcast itself.

The incident was a revelation because it demonstrated to me that this was not a company I wanted to do business with and broke me away from the blinding hype that a number of people are getting carried away on.

Is automated brewing the "hallmark" of Ms. Tellie's business? I don't know, I've only been presented with the evidence here and judging by the image of the "menu", one can only surmise that it's a major focus of her business.

Is it the hallmark of anyones' business? I don't know. I don't know everybody, but I do see a lot of hype and "dick swinging" by operators whose goal seems to be "who has the most machines" on their counters.

And how is the automated brewer "any more automated than a french press"? Have you even used the automated brewer or made a french press coffee??? I suggest you try making both and tell us the difference.

But bear in mind, if you really attempt to come back and tell us that French Press is, somehow, just as automated as the automated brewer, then you will have demonstrated just how much of this blinding hype you've swallowed.

3/12/2008 11:27:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Since I brought it up, I'll make the correction- Mary Tellie, to my knowledge, isn't a CIA grad, but when I was last in Scranton (Oct.07) She had recently hired a CIA grad as a manager. I forget her name, apologies all around.
Mary's cafe is tight- she has a great menu, her espresso drinks are very good- Mary's skills are excellent- and the Clover is one way to order coffees that she, until recently, roasted on premises. She has a dedicated roasting house in Scranton these days.
She's entitled to use the Clover logo to drive business and if french presses had just been invented (and had an ethernet port), you'd see the name Bodum or whoever plastered everywhere, too.

On the Clover vs. Press issue- if there is one- the time savings alone makes the Clover commercially more viable for a very busy shop, and for those not-so-busy shops, it can drive business from the as-of-yet-uninformed-but-nonetheless-trend-conscious portion of the customer base.

hyphen hyphen hyphen.

3/13/2008 04:54:00 AM  
Blogger AndyS said...

> I do see a lot of hype and "dick swinging" by operators whose
> goal seems to be "who has the most machines" on their counters.

Would you mind naming names -- because I visit cafes fairly often and I'd hate to get hit in the face by some operator's swinging...uh...
oh, never mind. :-0

3/13/2008 04:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Rich W said...


If we decide to get a Clover, first thing I'm doing is making a very large sign with that logo on it. People already know who we are. But Clover also sends out a shitload of PR on behalf of its customers and if you're going to spend that kind of money, ride the free PR as far as it'll take you. As a businessperson, you'd be crazy not to take advantage of whatever marketing/PR/recognition the Clover name brings.

Btw, in all your examples you forgot to mention Albina Press.

Personally I'm more interested in knowing what non-roasting retailers are profitable charging ultra-premium prices for coffee in cities not named SF, NY or Vancouver. And by profitable, I don't mean squeaking into the black. I mean being able to eat at the same places you do. I keep hearing about how we're supposed to charge more... but I'm not hearing anything about balance sheets and income statements.

3/15/2008 05:21:00 PM  
Blogger onocoffee said...


If you do happen to install an automated brewer in your shop, I certainly hope you'll take advantage of whatever PR they'll do on your behalf - you just spent Eleven Thousand Dollars on a brewer so I'd hope you'd get something for your money.

But I'd still think it's both "weird" and "odd" for you to make a "menu" about it. Just as I think it would be weird to make a "Beverage Air Menu" detailing what customers can purchase out of the reach-in merchandiser.

re: Albina Press
Not sure I follow you on that one. Are you saying the Albina Press has gone automated?

re: Ultra Premium Pricing
Outside of perhaps LAMill in Los Angeles, I have to question whether ANYONE out there is charging "ultra-premium prices" for coffee.

3/15/2008 11:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Rich W said...

Re: Albina Press - your examples of having menus related to the equipment the items were prepared with. I suppose 3 Cups applies too.

Come to think of it... we have a press pot menu too. I'm just not seeing the problem with a Clover menu - it's presenting coffee a different way. Yeah, you could do it with press, but until Clover came along, few (if any) shops were doing variable pricing for different varietals by the cup.

And I get you on the "ultra premium" price... so how about just "premium price"?

3/16/2008 10:40:00 PM  
Blogger onocoffee said...

I now see what you were saying about "Albina Press" - I suppose it could be an odd name. However, "Albina Press" isn't the name of a commercially available French press brewer, so it doesn't seem as odd as, say "Montague Cooking Suite Menu."

I don't agree that "3 Cups" would apply either.

Have we considered that prior to the automated brewer, variable pricing wasn't popular because we were just being lazy? French Press, Chemex et al (including Melitta) take a bit of work (and cleanup) to make happen, by comparison the automated brewer is push-button simple.

Also, have we considered that the trend (and this is strictly limited to "the third wave") for variable pricing is newly emerging? I state "third wave" because I have learned that other areas have offered "vertical" pricing for generations.

3/17/2008 06:16:00 AM  
Blogger AndyS said...


re: your "automated brewer" routine

Have you considered changing your screen name to "oh-no-clover?"

Just a thought.... :-)

3/17/2008 06:08:00 PM  
Blogger Alistair said...

This post has been removed by the author.

3/17/2008 10:34:00 PM  
Blogger Alistair said...

Jay has a personal axe to grind about a personal issue he has with one of the Clover company founders. Thats why Jay is shitting on everything Clover every chance he gets.

Its a damn shame, because Clover or not, this shop in Scranton, PA seems to be doing a great job of bringing specialty coffee to their town. Its an article that I'm sure warms many hearts of specialty coffee people. Electric City clearly deserve praise and support.

3/17/2008 10:36:00 PM  
Blogger onocoffee said...

*sigh* And one of the world's largest distributors of the automated brewer tries to position himself into the discussion.

Other people have their own way of doing business. For me, good relationships are paramount.

Bear in mind that I'm not a distributor of anything. I'm not trying to sell equipment. It's not part of my business. So I'm not going to be rolling up on anyone reading this thread with any intention of selling you equipment.

What these distributors and manufacturer are so upset about is that a small, mom and pop type of operator (like myself) would openly question the applicability and viability of the automated brewer. Supposedly, since we're all in the same "community" we should just fork over all of our hard-earned cash to whatever "greatness" they tell us to spend our money on.

I think if anyone was treated the way I was treated at CoffeeFest, they too would be offended - especially considering two previous years of friendly and amiable relationships.

As I openly stated above - oh heck, I'll repeat myself:

"re: your "kiss your ring" comment:
Perhaps you don't know me very well, but I never have the expectation to be lauded or fussed over when I meet or interact with people. To anyone I consider a friend or colleague, I openly, warmly and genuinely extend my hand in friendship. There's no pretense behind that extension of my hand and to have that ignored, doubted and questioned is an arrogant slap in the face of which I take serious offense.

Something to consider in my comments is that I have been very open and transparent about this incident, both through online forum topics and the Podcast itself.

The incident was a revelation because it demonstrated to me that this was not a company I wanted to do business with and broke me away from the blinding hype that a number of people are getting carried away on."

3/18/2008 09:49:00 PM  
Blogger Alistair said...

I could be tempted to call you what you are on paper too Jay, but I don't take into consideration the state of your business when we speak. Although it is relevant that my company is a Clover dealer (and damn proud of it), I would hope to be considered with a lot more respect that this impairs me from seeing things straight. It would be unfair to judge you only by your achievements. I am first and foremost in pursuit of excellent coffee. If you have issues with the Clover that is perfectly fine with me. Its not for everyone.

The issue I take with you is that you're grinding a personal axe. Based on a meeting on a trade show floor you have tried your best to damage everything Clover that you can find. I think you have overreacted and made a harsh misjudgment.

As you swing your axe around in public you hit people like this roasting company who proudly display a Clover menu only to be lambasted by you. Specialty coffee needs help to grow, and people like this deserve support and encouragement by the specialty coffee industry. They are serving great coffee fresh by the cup.

I'm speaking up here for fear that people are listening to you - not about the Clover - but in the mistake that your ill spirit is a representation of our industry. Certainly not when you have acted so disgracefully.

3/18/2008 10:55:00 PM  
Blogger onocoffee said...

I'm always bemused by those who attempt to label me as an "ill spirit" or "grinding an axe" - especially when my viewpoints are in contradiction to their own. Reminds me a of a recent thread where an individual started questioning my "integrity" once the discussion turned against their interests, but never questioned it while the discussion was in-line with their view.

You wrote: "...I don't take into consideration the state of your business when we speak."

Utter nonsense. You have always been at odds with me because I have been such an open critic of the automated brewer - and this has been on-going since the introduction of the brewer in October 2005 and you being one of the first people in the world to own one.

You argue that I'm "grinding an axe" with some hidden agenda that's guiding my keyboard and yet you want everyone to believe that your position as one of the leading distributors in the world of the automated brewer doesn't guide your own?

Since November, I've been open and candid about the incident as it occurred because I've got nothing to hide. There's no "hidden agenda" guiding my thoughts. I don't downplay the state of my relationship with the company.

Perhaps the reader ought to consider what either of us has to gain? By attacking me, there's potential profit to be made for you and your company through sales of the automated brewer (which I can only surmise would improve because of the credence you've lent my writings).

But as for me? Someone who does not have a vested interest in the sales of the automated brewer? It's obviously strained a personal relationship with someone I consider a friend (that would be you). I'd say that I lose more than I gain with my question and criticism of the automated brewer.

When it comes to discussion in forums or on the Podcast, I offer my own viewpoint on different issues. Many times it's an unpopular viewpoint. Yet I try not to offer conclusions. I try to offer my thoughts and expect the readership to compare, contrast and consider the various positions, evaluate those for themselves and come to their own conclusions.

Quite frankly, I don't know what you're so worked up about since I seem to be the only critical voice in a sea of voices that seems to love the automated brewer.

"I could be tempted to call you what you are on paper too Jay..."

Please do. Your camp has made similar statements before about hitting me on my claimed practices. I'm game for that kind of questioning. I'm open for critique. Hell, I was a flavored coffee retailer for the first two years in coffee, not to mention using Bunn glass urn brewers and low-quality beans.

Our pursuit is evolving on a continual basis - what we did yesterday we don't do today. What we do tomorrow will be an evolution from today.

While our pursuit is quality, I'm not perfect.

"It would be unfair to judge you only by your achievements."

Not sure what you're getting at here, but go right ahead. Judge me by whatever criteria is important to you. I've already accepted that life is unfair - I used to work for Hollywood.

USBC Standings? I'll be the first one to tell you that I'm a terrible competition barista. Brew methodology? Like I said above, I started out with a Bunn glass brewer. Latte art? I'm terrible. Short podcasts? With an average running time pushing two hours, I'd say that I'm an absolute failure in making a short podcast.

Judge me and hate me by whatever standards you deem important. I grew up as a minority in America and was in the arts scene in high school (awash in a sea of prep school kids and jocks) - I've been picked on, made fun of, spit on, roughed up, hated, vilified, subjected to racism, cultural hatred, racial profiling, detainment - I think I've even been burned in effigy.

So if you're ready to hate on me, get in line - there's a bunch of jocks, rednecks, Klansmen, podcast listeners and more ahead of you.

3/19/2008 05:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm workday communicant at Zummo's, which the appropriate word to use, as St. Paul's Church and School are across the street. Once you've had Electric City Roasting Co. coffee, any other is a let down.

As for it's location, there's quite a bit of history connected to that place. Many a pair of shoes were repaired and penny candy purchased from the Zummo brothers over the decades in that spot.

What Mary has done with the building is to make it a comfortable place to relax alone or with friends over a cup of coffee.

Anyone who comes to Scranton and likes a good cup of coffee should put Zummo's on their to-do list.

5/27/2008 02:07:00 PM  
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