I think most restaurants simply believe that most people, with the exception of a few "hardcore" coffee enthusiasts won't know the difference between a "good" espresso and a "bad" one, so they just throw in what they can and be happy that they're earning from that. I mean personally, that's how it is for me since I grew up with the taste of mere instant coffee, there was a phase in my life that anything that is remotely more decent than that, I deem as "good coffee". I'm lucky that my eyes and taste buds are starting to open now and I can fairly differentiate the good ones from the bad ones.
I agree that there is a lack of discerning customers, but beyond that, as other have pointed out, I just don't think there is enough potential money in coffee/espresso drinks for a restaurant operator to justify the time/investment to produce quality results. Most fine dining restaurants only serve dinner and possibly lunch. At those meal, most patrons will, at most, drink one coffee/espresso drink. A vast majority of those people will order brewed coffee or some sort of milk-based espresso drink, where bad espresso can be hidden behind milk and sugar (for less-discerning palates).
For even a busy high-end restaurant, there's maybe a couple hundred dollars a day of additional profit that could be gained by having great espresso. Unless you have an operator like a Meyer or a Keller who is obsessed with perfection in every single aspect of their operations, that $200 isn't enough motivation to pursue excellent espresso.
...For even a busy high-end restaurant, there's maybe a couple hundred dollars a day of additional profit that could be gained by having great espresso. Unless you have an operator like a Meyer or a Keller who is obsessed with perfection in every single aspect of their operations, that $200 isn't enough motivation to pursue excellent espresso.
OK - so if there's not enough traffic for espresso, there certainly must be demand for coffee after dinner? I have never had culinary quality coffee in a fine restaurant. A Chemex and beehive kettle is not expensive, although training might be.
Maybe 30 years ago, I chanced to take my future wife to a Mariott in LA, that featured excellent (!!) food, and the after dinner coffee was prepared at the table in a French Press. It was very good coffee. Perhaps the idea of such a service colored my impression.
I agree with Dana that, forgetting espresso for just a moment, wouldn't MOST of us be thrilled if we had a Press pot or syphon prepared 2 cup coffee service (with artisan roasted and freshly ground beans? The profit margin would be healthy, the expenditure on equipment modest, and the training minimal. The customer satisfaction? Priceless. Not in my lifetime, though.
Yet people ooh and ahh when guacamole is freshly prepared at the table. Well, that IS kinda cool. :>D
The sad news is that many restaurants don't give a cr@p about beverages. How many times have you actually been presented with a beverage menu, or even been given the time to put your napkin on your lap before they press you to choose what you want to drink. Many take a similar approach to vegetables, and don't even bother to prepare them correctly...as if they're an afterthought. Sorry, but I honestly believe there are only a tiny number of restaurants that have any idea at all what good coffee tastes like or how to prepare it - using ANY method
. Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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