Coffee in Worcester: Artichoke Co-op

posted by Mike on October 7th, 2007

This week Bruce and I grabbed some free coffee at the Artichoke food co-op, 800 Main Street, Worcester, MA.

PIEANDCOFFEE: It’s time for the hammer of judgement to smite the co-op.

BRUCE: This episode . . . gonna introduce this episode, it’s called Pie and Coffee. And we’re here to interview about the Artichoke and the experience that went on there yesterday.

PIE: So they had free coffee yesterday.

BRUCE: They did.

PIE: They usually don’t have pre-made coffee. I think they just have the beans.

What did you think of the coffee?

BRUCE: It was very good, but it was very strong.

PIE: You don’t like it so strong?

BRUCE: I love it strong.

PIE: What do you think of the ambience of the Artichoke?

BRUCE: Wha–the who?

PIE: What do you think about the whole vibe of the place?

BRUCE: Well yesterday was pretty different. It’s not like that all the time. I mean, very few people go in there.

PIE: They haven’t had very much food recently, either. They’ve been a little understocked. Last week at a City Council election forum, Barbara Haller was trumpeting her association with the co-op, and I wanted somebody to ask her, “Why don’t you have that place have some food, then?”

BRUCE: When you think of the Artichoke, most people don’t really know what the Artichoke is. To some people, they think it’s some kind of rubbery pineapple.

PIE: What is it?

BRUCE: It’s really a co-op, but they named it Artichoke. I’m surprised they don’t have any artichokes there!

PIE: They have avocados there. You ever eat those?


PIE: I’m a big avocado fan.

BRUCE: Yesterday…

PIE: One of the customers yesterday recognized you. She said, “What do they call you? The Snow Ghost?”

BRUCE: And she asked you, “Don’t you pretend to be the Snow Ghost?”

PIE: And I said, “Of course I don’t pretend to be the Snow Ghost!”

BRUCE: I persuaded the woman, I said, “I am the Snow Ghost. You can tell, because I’m the handsome, funny one.” She just kinda laughed.

PIE: Well, they were shooting an episode of Worcester Love there. You ever see any of these episodes on the Internet? This is like a thing where Andrea Ajemian and Kaz Gamble have been putting together these little videos. They’ve been finding someone to sponsor each one, and they’re putting them up on YouTube. I’ve enjoyed them. And they were filming yesterday. People were coming in out of the street to goof around in front of the cameras. It was a good vibe.

BRUCE: She interviewed me a little, but I don’t know what she made of it. She smiled a lot after she talked to us some more. I must have the way of words when it comes to women.

PIE: I think so. I like the Artichoke a lot, but . . . .

I’ll lay out my Two Point Plan for the Artichoke co-op. Are you ready?

Point One is that they should denote every item that’s either locally grown, Fair Trade, or organic. One possibility is they could use a star system. You could give something a gold star if it was organic, a red star if it was locally grown, and a green star if it was Fair Trade. To whatever the Artichoke’s specifications were. So if somebody was farming organic, but wasn’t certified, the Artichoke could say, “We think this is organic.” It would be great if by every item were these stars.

And I would say to them to reconsider carrying anything that didn’t have these stars, unless they had a great price, like the bulk tofu.

Point Two is that they should just pick like the top 20 items, and say, “We’re always going to have these in stock.” One problem with the Artichoke is you go down there, and what you’re looking for is out of stock. They obviously don’t have a lot of money to invest in warehousing things. But it would be great if they could commit to 10 or 20 items.

BRUCE: Like coffee would be one of them.

PIE: I think the coffee they have is Dean’s Beans.

BRUCE: I think those beans turned into some hot brew. You had to bean there!

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