Posts tagged “cafe”

Serving Up Carrots

A very small social experiment, more something to reflect on rather than proof of anything.

The Petite Syrah café in the Riviera city of Nice, has implemented a new pricing scheme. “A coffee” will set you back €7, according to the sign, while “a coffee please” is a little more affordable, at €4.25. If you want keep your expenses down, and stay friends with your local barista, however, the best option is “Hello, a coffee please,” which will only cost you €1.40.

Manager of the Petite Syrah, Fabrice Pepino, told The Local: “It started as a joke because at lunchtime people would come in very stressed and were sometimes rude to us when they ordered a coffee. Although Pepino admits he’s never actually had to enforce the price scheme, he says he has noticed a difference in his customers’ behaviour. “Most of my customers are regulars and they just see the funny side and exaggerate their politeness,” he said, adding “They started calling me ‘your greatness’ when they saw the sign. But people are more relaxed now, and they’re smiling more. That’s the most important thing.”

The framing here is important: there’s a reward for the behavior the business wants. It’s not a punishment for failing to adhere to the rules (e.g., surcharge for being a dickhead: $3.00) – even though it’s the same thing economically, behaviorally it’s entirely different. It’s the carrot versus the stick.

As well, the outcome is less about adherence to the rules and more about the increased mindfulness about a detail of the interaction. We’d need to come back and see what happens after the regulars attenuate to this change, but the empowerment that the rules produce as a consequence is quite enticing.

Also see previously: A silly (?) coffee pricing scheme at Tim Hortons.

The Hand-made’s Tale

Real real…


At Verve Coffee Roasters, my favorite cafe in Santa Cruz, each cup of coffee comes with a cup insulator hand-tied from a napkin by the person serving it. It’s a nice little touch that makes that cup of coffee seem special and folksy.

and fake real…


AT&T, keepin’ it unreal with a fake photocopied-annotated-and-passed-around-the-office flyer–a piece of marketing collateral that they mailed to my house. (It’s crumpled because I threw it out, then decided to write about it and rescued it from the trash.)

What are companies thinking when they send us stuff like this? Fake real, with its pretensions to authenticity, is even worse than fake.

Related posts:
Quickies: Fake Authenticity
Don’t Brand Me, Bro
This Space Available
Meet the new authenticity

Japan pictures – part 2 of 3

I’ve uploaded nearly 1300 of my Japan pictures to Flickr. For reasons I’m sure you’ll understand, I haven’t added titles or tags or descriptions proactively, but please add comments or questions on flickr and I’ll gladly offer a story or explanation.

Meanwhile, I’m including some of my faves here, as well as part 1 and part 3.


Social Networking

Wind-and-rainstorm-related power outages today brought telecommuters in my area out of the woodwork.

I stopped at the hardware store, bought a power strip , covered my old 280Z with a plastic tarp in the parking lot, and settled in for a day of work at a local cafe that still had power and a functioning internet connection.

The power strip was a good move-made me instantly popular.

A couple squeezed over to make room for me. They were talking about going to a movie, so I looked up the times for them, and then checked some reviews at RottenTomatoes.

This is how a café should be,” said the guy sitting on my right-an MBA student named Steve, I soon learned. Within a few minutes, we had talked consulting and LinkedIn.

Years ago, when email and chat terminals first started appearing as a kind of novelty in cafes, I thought it was one of the saddest things I had ever seen. Wasn’t the point of going to a café to be around people? Who would go to a café and then sit on a terminal and type messages to people who were somewhere else?

Seven years of freelancing and periodic telecommuting later, I understand. Working at the café is social in a non-social way. We get proximity but not interaction.

Today however, we got Live Social Interaction. There must be a tipping point of crowdedness or unusualness that causes people to break the invisible barriers and interact–collaborate, really–in a way that our normal social conventions and level of insularity preclude.

The irony is that it takes a storm or a disaster to break these barriers. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t really enjoy connecting with people in this way, which begs the question: why don’t we just live like this all the time?


We were on Kauai for only a few hours when we saw this young woman in a cafe in an extremely small town. I got a kick out of how universal the behavior is, no matter where you go, you’ll see someone hanging in a coffee shop with their laptop.


About Steve