Posted Mon Aug 5, 2013, 8:17am Subject: Sometimes you forget...
Just how bad it can be.
I've gotten so used to my own roast (occasionally supplemented by others) and my, however limited they may be compared to serious pros, barista skills that my base level of espresso expectations — my floor — has risen without my really paying attention.
Last night, for example, we were invited out by a friend to join her and her husband at a performance of the bellydance troupe run by the teacher with whom she studies. It was at a local coffeehouse/performance space in Venice (California, that is). I chatted with the barista while we were ordering our drinks and chose dinner from their vegan/vegetarian menu (hey, I said it was California), talking about whether whole milk or 2& foamed better and such, letting him know I was a serious coffee geek. So he goes to make my latte. First he steams the milk. And steams the milk, And steams the milk until it's all nice fluffy clouds of foam, as if we hadn't just been discussing microfoam. Despite the fact that we're drinking and eating there, it's going in a paper cup because they only have one lonely ceramic latte cup perched on toop of the 3 group Vittoria, and no (as in zero, nilch, nada, nicheyvo) ceramic espresso cups anywhere to be seen. The portafilter is lying on the tray, not in the group, and he knocks it, attempts to clean it with the steam wand, and knocks it again - no rag, no wipe (but at least the steam wand may have warmed it up a little). He then walks to the grinder and thwacks the doser twice (yup, no grind to order here, or weighing) and bounces the grinder's built-in spring-loaded tamper off the puck a couple of times without leveling. Then he locks the pf, puts a thin-walled stainless steel shot pitcher underneath, pushes the volumetric button and walks away. I watch the shot quickly blond. At this point, another customer arrives. Ahhh, it's someone he knows, so he spends a couple of minutes chatting with them and taking their order while my shot cools and the previously over-steamed milk's denatured proteins set up into meringue. Finally, he unceremoniously dumps the well-cooled shot into the bpttom of a tall, skinny paper cup, covers it with a meringue topping and hands it to me, beaming. I've had better shots from pre-ground Lavazza, from pods, from cheap super-autos. But I don't have the heart. Besides, we're with friends and my wife hates it when I kick into full-blown "educate the idiot barista" mode, so I just let it pass and tell myself, "Next time? Iced tea."
Posted Mon Aug 5, 2013, 2:49pm Subject: Re: Sometimes you forget...
Yeah, been there too. What I've resorted to is whenever possible watch a drink prep from as close as I dare without seeming interested in one. Then decide from there if I'm going to order one. Sadly, that's not possible every single time, but if you can swing it, it usually saves you from having to smile while you choke down a horrible drink.
. Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
Iluvdabean Senior Member Joined: 7 Mar 2005 Posts: 1,209 Location: Kentucky Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: La Nuova Era Cuadra/Gaggia... Grinder: Baratza Preciso/K-A Pro... Drip: Bonavita BV 1800 TH Roaster: Nesco 1010/Behmor 1600
Posted Mon Aug 12, 2013, 11:27pm Subject: Re: Sometimes you forget...
Its depressing to look at a capable machine and have a moron using it ,then charging you for it. Sad thing is when he gets home he brags about the challenges of being a barista. LA does have great coffee houses though and great coffee. Klatch is awesome for one of many.
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