My boys and I go to Camp Verde every other weekend over the summer for a “Weekend Wars” wrestling session at the high school. I wanted to try any local cafes in the small town of approximately 10,000 people and found Thanks a Latte. This Spotlight covers my first two trips to the cafe. The experiences were night and day- polar opposites. The first trip was fantastic, and I was excited to go back. The second trip was terrible, and I don’t know if I’ll ever go back.
Location. Thanks a Latte is inside a cute free-standing building with covered parking and a drive up window. It looks like it was a gas station or something similar in a previous life, but is now home to a cafe with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. Getting to the front door is a little tricky, as you have to walk around the parking lot and around the patio to get to it. What stood out to me most were the stickers on the door. In the place where many cafes keep a ‘no guns allowed’ sticker, Thanks a Latte has a ‘we support law enforcement’ sticker.
Once inside, you’re greeted by a pastry case and drink cooler. Next to that is the counter to order, the condiments bar, the espresso machine, and finally the pick up station. There’s a restroom inside, and plenty of seating. Tucked into the corner is their roaster. Displayed on a bookcase is another roaster for sale- the HotTop. They don’t offer classes to learn how to use the HotTop, but if you have an extra $1,600 to spend while visiting your local cafe, it may be a worthy impulse buy. Otherwise, it just seems out of place.
Service. First Trip. The barista was great. We talked coffee. We talked business. We talked pour-overs not on the menu. We talked about his career and school goals. He recommended a custom drink called the Verde Macchiato. We bashed Starbucks’ version of the Macchiato (and then he proceeded to make me a slight variant of it). It was all in good fun, I spent a bunch of dough, and I loved the experience. I loved it so much I created a profile on TripAdvisor to give them a review. You see, there were half a dozen requests for TripAdvisor reviews floating around the cafe in various forms- one sheets, flyers, business cards, notes, etc.
Second Trip. It couldn’t have been more different. The same barista didn’t want to be at work, didn’t care to talk coffee, didn’t care to make recommendations, and seemed to only want to be done at Thanks a Latte. The same could be said for the girls in the kitchen. Nobody was moving quickly to help the customers in front of me, myself, or the people behind me. I fell asleep in the lobby waiting for my takeaway drinks that took close to 30 minutes to deliver. It was clearly an “I don’t care” day.
Coffee. First Trip. The coffee was good. I tried the Verde Machiatto, an espresso in a demitasse, and a mocha for the Mrs to go. The kids tried some frappe-type drinks without coffee, and we all enjoyed our drinks.
Second Trip. Again, the mocha was decent. Nothing to get too terrible excited about, but a solid second wave offering. Even after showing up so late, it was an enjoyable drink. Not coffee related, two of my boys ordered Italian Sodas and the third ordered a smoothie. We didn’t taste them until we were already out the door and on the road. They were terrible. They tasted so bad, we couldn’t drink them. The Italian Sodas didn’t have sufficient syrup in them, so they tasted like club soda. the smoothie tasted spoiled. We tossed ’em all.
Conclusion. Part of me wants to settle it once and for all. Go a third time and however the experience is this time, it wins out. But I haven’t brought myself to do it yet. I just can’t bring myself to go spend more money at a place that clearly doesn’t want to give the ‘wow’ experience. Especially for second wave coffee that Starbucks down the street does consistently better and with consistently better service. I don’t think I’ll be back.