I took a five year long break in the middle of my education at UMKC. Upon returning, I was delighted to find three coffee shops directly on campus.
I remember a time when Roos stood in long lines at Royall Hall for robo-coffee poured from vending machines created circa 1980.
Oh, how we dreamed there would someday be a real coffee shop with a human to make us mochas. Now there is a coffee shop in Royall Hall, the University Center and the Student Union.
I was once fired from a now out-of-business coffee shop, so I am a coffee expert. I knew I had to try each one to see how they fared.
First, I went to the Starbucks in the University Center. My first visit, they had someone there who wasn’t trained; the normal barista was sick. Well, okay, I can forgive that.
So I ordered the easiest thing I could think off: iced chai. You just pour some milk, some pre-made chai, add ice and it’s done. The substitute barista searched high and low for the box of pre-made chai, to no avail. SEMI-FAIL:
Chai, not in stock.
I waited until the usual Starbucks employee was back. I ordered a hot mocha this time. Making a good mocha is the measure of a barista. This mocha was not poured so the creme would rise to the top, the proper method of providing the best taste and silky smoothness.
Most Starbucks employees mess this up, so I will forgive this small error. What I cannot forgive is the overuse of chocolate. It was to the point of being undrinkable. How can you make me hate chocolate? Why? I would have asked for a new mocha, but I was late for class after having to wait so long for it. FAIL.
Second, I tried the Jazzman. Their scones looked tasty. I ordered a mocha. The guy wrote mocha on my cup. Then he stopped and stared at me.
It’s customary of most cafes to ask “What kind of milk?” or if milk isn’t specified to use skim (it froths better).
After the awkward staring contest, I realized he wasn’t asking or assuming. “With skim,” I said. He wrote on the cup then stared at me further. We looked at each other uncomfortably. To break the silence, I ordered a scone.
Another employee overheard and said, “You like scones? I tried one. I think they are like bleck!” It is poor customer service to say food the patrons are ordering is disgusting.
“Scones are really just muffins in a different shape,” I offered.
“That’s a good way to look at it,” she said. I began to wonder how they make their scones.
The woman who bought coffee before me came back waving her receipt. “I can’t drink this,” she said, “It tastes like soap, it gave me a headache.”
The cashier called for the manager and asked how to do a refund.
The manager refunded the woman’s money and looked at me confused as to why I would be there. “There is a problem with the machine, we couldn’t wash all the soap out of it and we are trying to clean it now. You can still have your scone.”
I left, sconeless, mochaless and late for class. From my previous coffee shop experience, I know espresso machine soap should never be ingested by humans. It’s highly toxic. FAIL.
The third visit was to Einstein Bros. The line moved quickly. They asked me what kind of milk. They asked if I was having a good day. They commented on the weather, then presented me with a mocha.
The milk was poured correctly and there was the right amount of chocolate. It was exactly what I wanted fast, polite and good. WIN!
I guess it takes an Einstein to know how to do things right- fast, good coffee.
My last visit was to Muddy’s. It’s located at 318 East 51st St., Kansas City, next to Kin Lin. In the olden times of 2005, when we really needed a mocha, we would walk to Muddy’s. I was surprised to see it was the same guy working there now who was there five years ago. He knows his game. He makes a delicious mocha. WIN!