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McEspresso Comes to Town, Professionally Speaking
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Senior Member

Joined: 25 Jun 2003
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Posted Mon Jan 5, 2004, 9:49pm
Subject: Re: McEspresso Comes to Town, Professionally Speaking

Ahh, the McCafe Experience is spreading. We, in New Zealand got some of the earlier ones a number of years ago. I must say, here they didn't have the same kind of anti-superiority attitude as yours seemed to have, the marketing was very keen on marketing the idea that they passionately care about their coffee through every stage of production. I still remember one of the lines on the traymat "[the beans are] roasted with the same care you would give a newborn baby". I'm sure you can see why I remembered it (n.b. they don't even roast their beans, they get big bags of Faggs beans).

Like Australia, New Zealand is a fairly espresso-obsessed country - our *$ is of reasonable quality (still the weird dark roast though - and why are *$ beans insanely more expensive than any others?). I'd say $* is fairly superior to McCafe, which in turn is inferior to any of the real cafes, but better than your average eating place who thinks that it would be styley (sp?) to own an espresso machine. The espresso has crema, but it is a little lacking in body. And if you order a Long Black, you get heaps of water, so you hardly notice the coffee anyway.

Never, ever (having given up on the coffee) order a hot chocolate, the powder they use tastes strangely like soap.

The atmosphere and decor tend to be pretty good though, on the whole, apart from the high levels of ambient noise inherent in being, well, a McDonalds. And they seem to play the same CD for a whole year, it seems. It's quite interesting: McDonalds is really trying to raise their image here at the moment, making pseudo-gourmet meals (gourmet aeroplane food), serving salads and other healthy things. Is this the same everywhere?

I haven't tried the brewed coffee, perhaps I should.

Well, off for some real coffee :) mmmmmm

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Senior Member
Joined: 25 Oct 2003
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Location: Seattle
Expertise: Professional

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Posted Wed Jan 7, 2004, 9:49pm
Subject: Re: McEspresso Comes to Town, Professionally Speaking

Very interesting article Peter.  Thank you.  If memory serves me, I recall several years ago a few McDonald's in my state (WA), tried using super automatic machines and found this concept didn't work.  However, they continued to serve SBC coffee as drip.  Now that Starbucks has purchased SBC, I wonder if the Mickey D's are trying something with Starbucks.  Humm, I wonder?  Personally, I haven't noticed any here yet, but I guess it's just a matter of time.  I agree with your accessment regarding Baristas; they should have a knowledge about coffee, and what beans are in the blends that they serve.  Fact of the matter is, I find that many owners (not all), have no idea what's in their blends either.  By the way, you are not a coffee snob, you're a roaster.  If you don't know good coffee, who does? (SMILE).  I too am a roaster.  I'm sort of the "David" amongst the land of "Goliaths" here in the northwest.  I find that I'm always learning something new.  That's what makes things more interesting and exciting every day.

Again, good article.


"Where Coffee Reigns"
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Senior Member

Joined: 8 Jan 2004
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Location: Toronto
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Posted Thu Jan 8, 2004, 10:47pm
Subject: Re: McEspresso Comes to Town

Just a small point, the first (US) McCafe was in Chicago in June of 2001, on Wabash.  It was the owner/operator's idea to have a euro-style cafe adjoined to her McDonald's restaurant.  With its lace curtains and wrought iron furniture it didn't do very well, never mind the thin and tepid coffees.  Interesting piece, particularly in your summary points.
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Joined: 31 Dec 2003
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Posted Sat Jan 31, 2004, 3:27am
Subject: Re: McEspresso Comes to Town, Professionally Speaking

Interesting article. The idea with lukewarm coffee is not just about the lawsuit. The idea about lukewarm coffee is more about the flavour. When the milk is too hot you can't taste the entire flavours. When soup is lukewarm there is also more flavour. You can taste the stock, vegetables and detect each individual flavour. The same goes for coffee. I believe, when you drink coffee, it  should be, the first slip is hot but drinkable, second slip you detect the flavours and the third you enjoy the total experience. When coffee is too hot the milk isnt as sweet and your tongue can only feel the heat not the flavours.
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Joined: 28 Mar 2004
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Posted Mon Mar 29, 2004, 8:19pm
Subject: Re: McEspresso Comes to Town, Professionally Speaking

Well I have to say that was a very interesting article, and just for curiosities sake I would like to give this McCafe a try.  Good job on the article though, I especially like the description of the McCafe employee Bonnie

"She had a take-no-prisoners kind of cheerfulness…"

Seriously I have never heard it put better to describe that distinct character found at such establishments, well said.
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Joined: 6 May 2004
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Posted Thu May 6, 2004, 5:31am
Subject: Re: McEspresso Comes to Town, Professionally Speaking


I really enjoyed your article about McCafe and your sense of humour.  I feel a bit sorry for poor Bonnie.  Hopefully she doesn't read coffeegeek.com?!

Just a quick note regarding Mcafe.  The first McCafe's actually started in Australia quite a few years ago now and there are hundreds of stores here.  The reason they serve a flat white is because of  this Australian origin.  A flat white has been up until now peculiar to Australia and is a standard drink served by almost every one of the thousands of cafes throughout this big sunburnt land.

Its origins as far as I have been able to discern are ironically in this case, a result of the instant coffee culture that was introduced to Australia in the second world war by wait for it: American GI's on tour downunder.

With instant coffee most Australians used to add milk to it and it became exactly that: a white coffee that was very flat (no froth).

After the war with many Italian immigrants,espresso coffee culture gradually became embedded in Australian culture (almost to the point now where Australia is close to overtaking Italy in Espresso machine market penetration) but customers often asked not for a Cappuccino or a Caffe Latte but a white coffee with no froth ie a "flat white".

This has subsequently been confused by European barista's (I really don't like the pretentious word "baristi") and trainers like my great friend George Sabados who grew up in his father's shop serving espresso based coffees and who knew only about cappuccino's and caffe lattes and had no idea what someone meant when they asked for flat white and so served them a caffe latte instead.  So now the line is blurring by 1/2 to 1 centimeter of milk froth.

Flat whites have actually morphed into caffe lattes downunder.  The two drinks are now pretty much interchangeable except a caffe latte is usually served in  glass and 'Flat White' is served in a ceramic cappuccino cup.

Kind Regards

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Joined: 7 May 2003
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Posted Thu May 6, 2004, 7:43am
Subject: Re: McEspresso Comes to Town, Professionally Speaking

Just fishing for a reply about macchiatos here in aus.

I've noticed that on coffeegeek and from the italian tourists that i've served, a macchiato to their definition is more of a 1:1 ratio of espresso to foamed milk freepoured, but my old bosses taught me that a macchiato was just espresso stained with a dollop of foam?

Can someone tell me of the origin of both styles?  Are both correct?

I'd also like to know- while I'm bringing up these weird definitions..

What then, makes the difference between a macchiato (1:1 style), and a cortado with hot milk?  

and, a big thanks Instaurator for your background of where a flatwhite came from! :)
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