Free espresso and americano in Los Alamos? Yes, really!
You might have heard that our French café, Fleur de Lys, has recently started a campaign of free coffee, all day, every day. We are not talking about watered down drip coffee but about an espresso shot, this Italian delicacy that has to be extracted from fresh beans with clockwork precision to taste right: at 192F, under 9 bars of pressure, for about 20 to 25s to be more precise. When done right, the espresso shot is covered with a dark brown, thick layer of crema, where much of the flavor from the coffee beans live.
So yes, this is now available for free in Los Alamos, along with the americano, which is a shot of espresso diluted in water. With the increase in new faces going through our doors came the obvious question, “why?”. It’s a legitimate question given that nobody has never done that before. But Los Alamos is accustomed to the “first evers”, “never befores”, and “only in Los Alamos”.
This is not a question we can answer in a 140-character tweet. We actually started this campaign in September 2018, but it was running on Fridays and Saturdays only. It was an instant hit, which has never died down. The idea was originally triggered by the possible opening of a third Starbucks in Los Alamos, one with a drive through on Trinity Dr., but the project might not see the light after all.
Regardless, it made us question our purpose, how we position ourselves with respect to the large corporations, what is the relationship between these corporations, the food, our community, and us, the small business owners.
We realized that when we think about food or drinks, in many cases, the first thing that comes to mind is a brand. Pizza? A domino. Burger? A creepy clown. Coffee? A green mermaid. It’s imprinted in our brain, almost like a reflex. Dangerous creatures with enchanting voices luring us to shipwreck into nearby rocks? Not quite but definitely a call for drinks that keep increasing in size and sugar content.
How have we slowly drifted away from coffee to eventually get into a highly customizable and drinkable dessert with an optional shot of caffeine in it. Marketing? Perhaps, but in the end, this is irrelevant. The primary objective of a corporation is to make profits, grow, and dominate the market. And this is actually the long-term objective of most businesses in our free economy. With all that, where did the taste go? How do our local businesses position themselves in our local economy?
In the coffee market, free espresso is our answer. There is no enchanting voice. No dessert disguised as coffee drink. You want a dessert or a croissant with your free coffee? You can get it separately in our shop but as far as coffee goes, we focus on the taste of a perfect espresso and that’s it. A fresh roast provided weekly by 35 degree North in Santa Fe. Their roaster, Tom Patton, is the son of a recently retired colleague of Marcel in the geophysics group at LANL. Small world? We would rather talk about a tight community at many steps of the growth of a small business.
So now you know why we did this. The free espresso campaign is an incentive to bring back quality and taste at the center of the table. Yes, we can still generate a significant profit for our business while providing something unique and free to our local community. We have been striving since day 1 thanks to your support but ultimately, we are not a publicly traded corporation, we are a family owned business well rooted in our little LA community.
Stephanie and Marcel Remillieux, Owners of Fleur de Lys.