Coffeesnob101 Senior Member Joined: 14 Jan 2012 Posts: 1 Location: TN Expertise: Pro Barista
Posted Mon Oct 1, 2012, 7:52am Subject: Re: Coffee Shop: Hot or Not! by Nathan Slabaugh
I was absolutely HORRIFIED when I read our city in your blog, yes we do have a couple coffee shops that aren't up to par in my opinion, but the rest of the city need not suffer their stupidity!!! We have in fact at least 7 local roasters within 20 miles of the city and have more than enough coffee shops each representing a roaster. I think if you came back you should visit either Thrive Cafe or the Camphouse for a taste of quality coffee and baristas with knowledge to back it up!! Please acknowledge this so that everyone knows that we don't ALL do that. Thank you, cafe manager of Thrive Studio and Cafe.
Posted Mon Oct 8, 2012, 11:04am Subject: Re: Coffee Shop: Hot or Not! by Nathan Slabaugh
Had to chuckle throughout this one, as wandering through local coffee shops is our favorite way to "see the world." An accidental stop at Vivace in '93 on our first visit to the NW was the espresso epiphany that inspired us to do lighter roasts, fine tune our blend and eventually purchase a commercial machine for home use. Of the great list Nathan put together, my #1 is portafilter laying on the drain pan, followed by the sad bleating of oversteamed milk. We turn around immediately and keep moving. Now, the world needs a similar list for drive-thru locations, as it is harder to spot the warning signs!
Posted Sun Nov 4, 2012, 7:40am Subject: My coffeshop litmus test...
My coffee shop litmus test is to ask the barista: "How is your espresso today?"
If the barista admits that the espresso is not always perfect but that today it is great, then go for it. I have never had a bad shot when I received this type of answer. It means that they: 1) realize that the quality fluctuates, 2) that they are tasting the shots, 3) and that they can contrast a good and a bad shot. (Some people have never had a great espresso and so may actually think that what they are serving is "always good".) It has also worked in the occasional shop where the coffee was actually quite good, but the barista did not know precisely ristretto meant.
If the answer is that it is not so good today, you can always get a cappuccino: usually even an off shot from a barista who answers this way will work well with milk.
The failure of this method is the answer "It's always good", which is inconclusive. Sometimes it has been followed by a great shot, but has also been followed by swill.
The absolute worst answer I have experienced to date: "I don't know, I don't drink espresso." The follow up thought was: "Well no wonder, this tastes terrible!".
You can always gracefully back out by ordering a hot chocolate, or a bottle of fruit juice.
(I used to ask for a macchiatto and back out if there was any mention of the word caramel (unless it was in the phrase "You don't mean a "caramel" macchiatto do you?") but this as not as reliable.)
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