I went to the Beaverton Uwajimaya today, but somehow I didn’t arrive until about 12:15 and I spent about 10 minutes wandering around trying to figure out where my demo table might be, then I found the staff member who runs the event, and settled in as quickly as possible. I think I didn’t do any sampling until about 12:45.
Actually I try to arrive by 11:30 to these events but somehow something goes wrong each time, and I get there later. This time the issue was fairly bland… I remembered the need to get cups for serving cold matcha samples, and had to stop at a Cash & Carry on the way out of town. I would have done this yesterday, but I had a long list of things to accomplish and it just fell off.
The weather was very warm today. I think I might have a bit of open-window sunburn.
Alas, I ate rather unimpressively on the way. The day started off well, because I had two halves of two nice muffins from Fresh Flours, and a yuzu marmalade window cookie (made with Korean yuja-cha, which I myself have been intending to import since February but faced a few unrelated inventory and payment obstacles that made me skittish). Along the way I stopped at a Mrs. Beesley’s for a fresh strawberry shake, so that beat my sugar quota. I had a slice of mushroom pizza at Pizzicato. These last two are, alas, frequent stops for me when I’m playing traveling supermarket product demo guy.
Surprisingly, the usual rule about sunny weather negatively impacting sales and store traffic at Beaverton didn’t seem to hold. I found I was sampling to a steady stream of customers most of the time, and the iced matcha latte in particular went over well… I think more people have recently tasted the (in my opinion scary) Starbucks green tea drinks that the idea seems less “foreign” when they try ours. Usually people who have tried both seem to prefer ours, which makes me happy, since we use better matcha and no melon flavoring.
Usually I’ve been at Beaverton on relatively cool days so I think today was the first time to do any iced matcha lattes there… it’s actually a little more convenient since the matcha flavor is more stable when served cold, so I can make more in advance and I never have to throw any away.
When I do hot matcha lattes, the samples get cool very quickly in small sample cups, and the exposure to air is not something that green tea appreciates; accordingly, to make sure everyone has the best possible experience, I usually make four samples at a time and discard any that remain after about 5 minutes. 5 minutes isn’t too much stress for a drink in a larger cup because it doesn’t cool as rapidly or have as much surface area exposed to air. I don’t want to drink a long-neglected cafe latte either, because coffee is about as temperamental when served hot as matcha is.
Anyway, iced is nice, because it seems more people have experience eating green tea ice cream than drinking matcha, and the taste is somehow familiar to them when we serve cold things. I didn’t track it very carefully, but I think we actually had a fairly high conversion rate today for Beaverton… in Seattle I do reasonably well whether doing hot drinks or cold. The smallest size ran out by the fourth hour.
Whenever I do demos at the Beaverton Uwajimaya I wish I had progressed further in studying Korean than I have so far… I have been using a little bit just to explain the name of the products in Korean, which some Koreans have heard of… yong su-yeom yeott saseyo! Nokcha late i-e-yo. But I can’t say anything else of interest.
Beaverton’s customer base has the heaviest percentage of Koreans of any store that I visit. So it seems like it would be a good think if I could say something more intelligent than “I’m selling dragon beard candy! This is a green tea latte.”