Case Study: Morsels

Following on with our series of Case Studies, we sat down with our friends at Morsels in Traverse City, MI. The independent cafe and bakery opened in 2008, and is known for incredible bite sized baked goods and doing a fantastic job with their coffee program. They are currently in the middle of the buildout for their second location.

What equipment do you use and why?
• We use a La Marzocco GB/5, 3-group, semi-automatic – a beautiful workhorse of a machine, flexibility for one or two baristas to work if necessary, control over shots with time and temperature that is easy to assess and change.
• We also use a Mazzer Robur E grinder for espresso – the electronic dosing is really helpful in reducing waste, very consistent over the course of the day, a fast grind for high-volume times, and it’s quiet!
• Mazzer Super Jolly grinder for single origin espresso – same consistency as the Robur E over the course of the day, easy to dose, good value for a grinder that has less volume
• Fetco for batch brew – so consistent from batch to batch, easy to clean, a workhorse
• Curtis hot water tower for tea and pourover brew – also a workhorse, just never dies, keeps the volume of water we need for tea and brew-to-order coffee constant, always the proper temperature
• Grindmaster grinder for batch and pourover coffee – super consistent grinder with great burrs, easily adjustable grind that serves the batch brewer, V60, Chemex, and more. Really flexible, fast, consistent grind

Give us an overview of your menu - batch? Single origin?, drink sizes etc

We offer batch brewed coffee daily in 8, 12 or 16 oz. Our single origin, pourover coffees change about every two weeks, but sometimes we’ll keep a coffee on longer if we and our customers really like it (Yirgacheffe, Flecha Roja!). We only offer the pourovers in 12 oz, which gives us consistency and more control over the finished product. Our espresso drink menu covers all the basics, and we like to have a Single Origin or Seasonal Espresso option as well.

How do you you ensure quality execution behind the bar? Any specific training techniques?

Our baristas go through a period of training first during off hours, and then when on-shift, to learn all of the different drinks and preparations. They observe, take notes, watch videos, and then start working out their own rhythms on the bar. They work with our Coffee Director until they have shown that they have an understanding for the information, and then they begin to work shifts with other staff. They do not make drinks for customers until they have passed a bar test to insure that they can:

• pull a certain number of shots within a period of time that are consistent in specifications and in quality
• steam milk to the proper temperature consistently
• steam milk appropriately for cappuccinos vs. lattes consistently
• pour latte art at a beginner level
• assemble a variety of drinks appropriately and consistently within a certain amount of time
• make each variety of pourover coffee appropriately and consistently
• talk about coffee to customers appropriately (know the origins, flavor notes, why we’re brewing what we’re brewing on which method, etc.)

How long have you worked with Intelligentsia?
Funny story – we worked with Doug Zell about 13 years ago when we were in the architecture and design industry and were designing a coffee shop for a client in Milwaukee, WI. The client wanted to use Intelligentsia as their roaster because they were known for such high quality. Doug helped us layout the bar and specify the right equipment. Although at the time, we had no idea that we’d be opening our own shop 7 years later, we remembered the great experience we had and the amazing coffee as well. For Morsels, we have worked with Intelligentsia since it’s inception in late 2007.

Why do you value about your partnership with Intelligentsia?

From the beginning, Intelligentsia has been a partner with us for the coffee portion of our business. From general education of the retail environment, the coffee market, the direct trade process, and roasting, to individualized training on specific equipment or one-on-one training for the coffee preparation process, Intelligentsia has gotten us through.

As in any market, things are always changing, and Intelligentsia has a commitment to research and forward movement of the coffee industry. We are fortunate to benefit from this practice as a wholesale customer. Their knowledge becomes our knowledge and empowers our staff to continue to challenge the status quo.

Having a team of staff available to respond to a text about a technical issue or brewing specs is pretty incredible. The folks at Intelligentsia are the best at what they do and to have access to their knowledge brings additional value beyond the excellent end product.

Partnering with the Intelligentsia brand brings great value to our business from the customer point of view as well. Customers from all over the world recognize that if we use this coffee, our business is obviously committed to quality.

We value the close relationships we have made with members of the sales, tech, and executive team who have been with us all along the way and have become friends.

Are you working on any new developments?

We have two projects in the works at Morsels currently. First up is revitalizing our tea program. We are exploring various methods of preparation, and looking into tea-specific service ware as well. With the dawn of Kilogram Tea, we are eager to grow our tea program to match the quality and attention of our coffee program.

Second on the list is reformatting our beverage menu. For a long time, coffee shops have offered one method of ordering that is very a la carte based. In reality, however, most drinks are their best at a certain size, with or without accoutrement. We are seeing shops around the country move to this new menu model and we are preparing to join them. Drink sizes will be specific to the drink, as well as ingredients and how they are served, not unlike ordering an alcoholic beverage at a bar. We are the experts in coffee and tea preparation and since our customers know we will present their drink the best way possible, we feel they will be happy to order this way.