scubadoo97 Senior Member Joined: 24 Jun 2003 Posts: 677 Location: Florida Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Solis SL70 Grinder: Mazzer Mini & Solis Maestro... Vac Pot: got one of those too Drip: Aeropress, Clarity, FP,... Roaster: SC/TO
Posted Mon Apr 18, 2005, 3:39pm Subject: Clueless
I know these tales have come up from time to time but I had an experience this weekend that went like this. I walked into a coffee espresso bar in Panama City. They had a beautiful 2 group Nuova Simonelli and Nuova Simonelli MDS grinder that looked like it had an empty doser. Good sign. So I asked the young lady, I am interested in a straight espresso, do you dose before you grind. Sure she says. Another good sign. I ordered the double and she asked do you want that to go. I said no it will only take a few seconds to drink and she turns and doses from the hopper without grinding. Okay bad sign. Turns and gives me a 4oz cup of black coffee. Very bad sign. I looked with disappointment. Ahhh no crema and she says, we have cream do you want some. I tried to explain that this was strong coffee and not espresso. Well yes it is she says, it was made from espresso beans. Clueless! It is very hard to being a coffeegeek.
3 weeks ago I walked into the Santa Barbara Roasting Company. Nice ambiance, old brick walls, long patina'd bar. Bad sign: the two "baristas" looked verrry young (apologies, LedZep)(UCSB freshmen?). But I was on a road trip and didn't really want to ask too many questions, just wanted a double shot of modest quality and to get back on the road. STILL!!! It all happened waaay too fast and she gave me a 4oz. watery coffee in 14 seconds. I complained. Nicely. I was kind and I smiled winsomely. I gently suggested that she give it a harder tamp, as I had noticed that the first time around she merely waved the tamper in the direction of the pf. With sour attitude she breath-of-tamp'd again and pulled another 4 oz. in 16 seconds. Watery. Terrible. Spewable. I complained again. Nicely. Very nicely. Her response: "Well maybe you just don't like our espresso beans."
So I asked the young lady, I am interested in a straight espresso, do you dose before you grind. Sure she says. Another good sign. I ordered the double and she asked do you want that to go. I said no it will only take a few seconds to drink and she turns and doses from the hopper without grinding. Okay bad sign. Turns and gives me a 4oz cup of black coffee. Very bad sign.
I have just figured that if the shot isn't good I just cut my losses and know for next time. I figure most 'baristas' in places like this are trained by someone who doesn't know good espresso, so a customer telling them how to do it differently isn't going to change things. At least in most places where the workers don't really care.
On the other hand- how awesome would it be to request to tamp your own as you produce your handy travel tamper?!
Customer: Hi, can i get an espresso dopio for here please? My machine at home is on the fritz... BaristaX: Sure thing! (turns to dose, snatching a portafilter from the driptray cover) Thats a double, right? Customer: Hey, yeah, but only, could you use my ground coffee beans? They're fresh-roast... BaristaX: (turns back) Hum? Erm...OK. Customer: (hands over ziplock baggie of 36-hour-old fresh-ground) Cool. Oh, make sure you tamp with 20lbs pressure, that grind responds well to that pressure. Could you dry out that portafilter first? That'd be great. BaristaX: ..... Customer: Is that a flat tamper? Lets just use this handtamp that I brought with me. Just... let me see that portafilter. BaristaX: .... <grumble grumble> .... Customer: Hey, don't whack the portafilter! Could you re-tamp that like I did, please? We can't have any channeling, now, can we? Thanks. BaristaX: Sure, whatever. Customer: (trying to be nice) Thats a pretty good machine your shop has there. I almost bought a used LM, but went with an E61 single-group dual-boiler rotary-pump plumbed-in with... Customer: Stop! STOP! Its BLONDING!! BaristaX: Time for you to go now. Customer: But...? BaristaX: Buh-bye. Leave. Now.
I really wasn't trying to give her a hard time. My wife said not every one knows what crema is. Reality check, this is an espresso bar or so the sign said. At least they should know what it is even if they can't produce it.
RistrettoBabe, did you actually time the shots? Just curious how you could tell a 14 sec from a 16 sec shot. That could be a pretty unnerving experience for a barista, having a customer hover over him with a stopwatch -- but probably they'd just think you're wierd.
I've been disappointed too many times. So I only order espresso from places that I know has good espresso. What annoys me the most is when I get my espresso in a cold cup cappuccino cup. And its filled to like 3 or 4 oz. Another good one is when I was in this fancy over priced resturant and I guess they don't get too many orders for espresso or espresso based drinks. Because they seem to turn the machine on when they want to pull a shot and then turn it off. They seem to let it heat up long enough for the boiler to get warm (ie the light goes off). I warned my partner but she didn't listen. And what shows up...an over extracted espresso in a cold cappucicino cup. My other pet peeve is when they steam the milk too hot. But don't get me started on that. :)
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