Thursday, July 05, 2007

several trips in one, part one

what a whirlwind i have just returned from! it's very nice to be able to take a 'vacation' and have it tied largely to work (read: tax write off). i was fortunate enough to be able to do just that this past week as i traveled over 2500 miles on our federal interstate highway system across this great country of ours. this recap will not capture every detail of my trip; each of these segments of my trip do and may merit their own individual posts at some point in the future. but here's the first part of the trip: from san antonio to tulsa.

first up in our trip was dallas and the scrbc. this was held at the s.w. food expo and although it didn't get a lot of attention tucked away in the corner of the expo hall it was nonetheless a huge step forward in the emergence of texas baristaness as a viable player in the national scene. yes, it's true that we are still miles behind our comrades across the rest of the country. but my honest feel is that we posted loud and clear that we are ready to enter the same arena and learn and grow and make our own waves. congrats to patrick, clancy and jason for great presentations and for taking us to the next level. here's to many more levels in the very near future.

yes, in some ways this event had that slapped together feel. i feel this came as a result of the fact that we have never done/seen this type of thing before. but we'll get better and now that we've been there and done that you can be sure that that famous texas pride will not let us hang down in the "also ran" category for long. you have to give huge props to mike for putting in untold massive amounts of time to make this event run as well as it did. simply massive.

i left dallas even before the final round was completed and winners announced because we had to be in tulsa that evening for an event that would highlight the entire trip for me. i was set to visit one of my newer wholesale clients, kokoa chocolatier, and be their guest for a monthly dinner event they host. normally, kokoa is a chocolatier serving full plated desserts in the evening and a lite food menu for lunch. twice a month on consecutive days, however, they host a full-on dinner that pairs foods with wines and chocolates and yes, even coffees. i had faint idea what i was getting myself into as i stepped into the store, having only personally met the manager for the first time just minutes earlier. but as i sat down and looked over the eight course meal it began to hit me and the thought became louder and louder in my head: this is a good match for brown. (hate to say it in print, but) sometimes as a wholesaler you sell to people because you need volume and cash. sometimes, as in this case, however, you realize you really do have a good match. kokoa is a great example of that. they are quality driven, aesthetically concerned for all their products, they care highly about service and they love their customers. i sat through my eight course, $135-a-head meal and just spun. my head spun. my spirit spun. i knew this was right and good and worth growing a serious relationship with this client. especially when the last course was presented: a plate of freshly prepared cream, small chocolate brownie wedges, freshly sliced strawberries and shortbread cookies, presented cleanly on a plate and paired with the private house blend kokoa and brown have collaborated on. the dessert course was simple and phenomenal and paired perfectly with the coffee.

and of course, it helped cement the match (and really boosted my ego) as some of the dinner guests approached me and said they were big fans of my coffee. it is a very surreal experience to introduce yourself to someone(s) and have them say, "oh we know who you are, aaron!" it is perhaps even more divine to visit a client who is distance-prohibitive and see all the coffee pieces working together flawlessly in nearly the exact way you would do it yourself.

next time you're in tulsa, oklahoma, make sure you visit them at one of their two locations.

part two will discuss the next leg of the trip including a visit to a coffee retailer using a clover. i also hope to expound on some of the ramifications of this trip for brown as a business as a result of this trip and these experiences.

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At Monday, 09 July, 2007, Blogger Jason Haeger said...


That's awesome. Really, HUGE congratulations on that one.

I look forward to seeing news about this place in the future.


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