Seven Seeds: Fallen from Grace

May 20, 2012

114 Berkeley St, Carlton
Firstly, let it be known that I do not enjoy writing negative comments; I do not like it because I understand that people who work in this industry work extremely hard and are very passionate about it, and I don’t like the idea of anonymously criticising them. But sometimes constructive criticism deserves to be made.Secondly, I am well aware that writing negative things tends to attract heated and often rude comments, but I do feel that I am being reasonable in making the following observations. I’m going to be boring and put my complaints under obnoxious headings in the hope that Seven Seeds will do something about them because honestly, the point of this post is not to ruin the cafe but to point out some issues that I feel can be improved on (in my horrendously unqualified opinion). Yep, as usual I am being wholly selfish in my actions.

The Coffee

This is my main point of dissatisfaction, largely because Seven Seeds is supposed to be one of Melbourne’s best, if not the best, coffee house.  Four times this past week have I ordered a latte (at varied times of day), four times has it been severely overheated and tasted like old dishwater. I mean, really, really, horrifically bad coffee. The previous week was the same. In fact, this whole damn year has been peppered with terrible coffees. What the hell, Seven Seeds, what the hell?

I’m willing to cough up $3.80 for reliably good coffee, but I find the recent performance very disappointing. For the past three years it’s been brilliant, why the sudden drop in quality? Please, please, please fix it so that I can continue to enjoy drinking what I used to flaunt as the best coffee around.

The Value (or lack thereof)

My example here is the ham and cheese toasted sandwich. I understand they change their menu every couple of months, but this seems to be the battler, the stalwart, the one constant. It’s been on the menu for as long as I can remember and until earlier this year, there was good reason for it. It was, hands down, the best toastie I had ever had; thick, multigrain bread, copious amounts of butter and a tomato relish that was inspiring.

Currently, what is being delivered is a ciabatta-style toasted sandwich, which costs about the same but has the unfortunate tendency to be mainly empty bread halves and one small, fatty piece of ham. More than anything else, I am mourning the loss of a lunch staple – did multigrain bread suddenly become extortionately expensive?

The point is, I accept that the food here is a tad pricy; that’s fine, it matches the price tag of the coffee. But I would like to see Seven Seeds deliver on quality and, frankly, quantity. The chicken terrine sandwich once came out smaller than the size of a small child’s palm, I kid you not.

The Service

I’ve been frequenting Seven Seeds for the past four years. And by frequent I mean at least once a week, often more. Some of the staff haven’t changed in the past two years, but still they never give an indication that they recognise me, let alone remember my name. I’m not seriously fussed by this, I understand that they’re busy and they serve a very large population of regulars.

The real problem is that the staff here have a tendency to forget coffees / meals / you. I once sat there for twenty-five minutes before being approached. Similarly, I had breakfast there recently at 8:30, the place was half empty but still they forgot my order. The discount I was offered on my coffee for being so late? 30 cents. A measely 8% discount. Rah, rah, rah, more examples of bad service. You get the point.

I can’t say that I’ve ever successfully run a cafe, but most other places seem to be able to nail down the service element, so I don’t see why they’re so forgetful here. Hipsters wear glasses, so surely that makes them more intelligent – isn’t that the idea??

The Attitude

Need I say more? Surely I am not the only person who feels this way. Swear to God, on the job description for staff are the words “be an asshole” because, four years on, I have failed to be greeted by a single friendly, enthusiastic person. They’ve all perfected this proud haughtiness, this snobbery and icy stare as they look you up and down, judging you and your clothing and your revoltingly pedestrian hair style. Nothing about me can ever impress them.
And here’s what I don’t understand – I am the one paying them. They are the ones providing me with a service. And frankly, I’m getting a little sick of the nastiness. I agree, they have built quite a name for themselves; Seven Seeds is very well known as excellent coffee; the space is very cool and pleasant to hang out in. But success like that doesn’t necessitate a terrible attitude. I think a couple of smiles and a little cheer would go a long way in encouraging people to talk positively about the cafe, rather than bitching about it later.

Here is the crux of my argument. I used to like Seven Seeds, I very much want to like it again. But I am finding myself increasingly frustrated by a triangle of shitty service, attitude and coffee. Previously, the relationship I had with Seven Seeds was kind of like a relationship where everything is bad but the sex (coffee) is brilliant – you put up with it, because you’re pathetic and you can’t help yourself. But once the sex (coffee) turns bad, and the other person still has terrible attitude and makes you pay for everything and forgets your birthday, you get out. Well, the sex just got bad. So I’m getting out.

The sad thing is, even if just the coffee was restored to its former glory I’d return, addict that I am. I’ll continue to put up with the lack of service and the shitty ham toastie and the bitchiness. I will. I’m ridiculous like that. So please, do something about the dishwater here, don’t leave me in the coffee wasteland of Parkville…


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Filed under: Carlton