February 10, 2012

Got that sadness

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I’ve gotten over being mad, now I’m just sort of sad. Found some stuff this morning and I’m having trouble not taking it personally. This is the worst I’ve felt since taking on the adventure of building Clover. Not sure what to do about it.

I discovered this morning that a bunch of our employees including some of my most trusted managers are setting the coffee grinder to a very very fine setting when making coffee for themselves. I was assured “we always do it right for customers,” and before that sentence was finished I just felt worse. This isn’t a case of poor training on technique, it’s a case of employees not buying into what we’re doing.

This is in a world where Rolando and I have literally criss-crossed the country to meet roasters, tasted thousands of coffees, tested every paper filter we could find, scrutinized every type of pouring method, invested in water filtration equipment, spent days and weeks training on coffee. So it sort of feels like having some of my most trusted managers spit on me.

And when I get out of the really bad mood this has put me in I’m going to have to start the hard work of figuring out what to do about this. Our coffee is built on a fundamental belief that we’re building the future of coffee. We’re serving beans from the best growers in the world, carefully selected by the best roasters, and sweating to make sure we get that cup to you just right each day. I don’t mind that we screw it up sometimes, never like it when that happens, but I know that’s part of what’s going to happen. But to know that we have managers that are just not bought in at all is really defeating. I don’t know what I’m going to do to fix that.

AFTERWORD:

Hey all, there’s been an unusual amount of controversy around this post (see comments), seems it was posted on some facebook pages, etc. I haven’t edited the original text at all. I own it, controversy and all. But I thought it might be helpful to provide some brief comments here. It’s wonderful that so many of you care so much about Clover issues in general (as evidenced by comments), and our employees in particular. Honest discussion, and even conflict help us grow and improve. Thanks for the participation.

– Those of you who are new to this site might not be familiar: but we’re trying to build a forum for honest transparent discussion about our food and the issues we face as we find better ways to serve customers. We seek to share good and bad. You’ll find a ton of historic posts about all sorts of stuff that went wrong. It’s not all flattering, but it’s all honest. (Try searching the site for “mistake” or “accident” or “screwed up”)

– I think many assumed the goal here was admonish a Clover employee. It wasn’t. Really sorry it came across that way. I think the way I wrote the post lead to this confusion. Honestly, I was trying to share/ explore some of the issues I find most complex and challenging as we grow. Didn’t even realize it could be taken another way. There’s a reason there is no name attached to the incident.

– There wan’t any passive aggression here. I’d talked to the manager in question directly before writing the post.

– There wasn’t some higher goal other than to provide you all an honest window into some of the stuff that’s going on as we grow. I’m sure there have been times when every reader here has felt down, or like a failure, sometimes without good reason. There wasn’t an angle here, just sharing challenges.

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