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The Crema Test
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Discussions > Espresso > General > The Crema Test  
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mrhagerty
Senior Member


Joined: 7 Mar 2006
Posts: 99
Location: Tucson
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: DeLonghi EC 702
Grinder: Starbucks Barista
Drip: Melitta Porcelain
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Wed Oct 23, 2013, 4:51pm
Subject: The Crema Test
 

Espressonistas -

I have read many excellent posts here and seen Youtube demos on extracting the golden pull from the best machines, and hoping for the day when I can produce the golden nectar at home (when I am independently well-off like all of you).

So for the time being I'm obliged to visit espresso shops here in town or on vacation, who use the commercial machines and (supposedly) assure me of the crema experience talked about so much.

But alas, I have yet to find a shop that produces a pull from their pro machines anything like the posts or videos I've seen.  In fact, such shops, including a connoisseur shop in Sausalito (who certainly ought to produce the real thing) show me a shot that is hardly any different from the mediocre pulls I get at home with my mid-market pressurized portfiltered DiLonghi.

So what gives with the pro baristas and shops?  Am I expecting too much?  Or should I move in as a neighbor to one of those guys on Youtube?

Would love to experience the experience, but I'm beginning to wonder where?

Mike
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Coffeenoobie
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Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,015
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Wed Oct 23, 2013, 6:23pm
Subject: Re: The Crema Test
 

Not well off, my machine was used 475.  Anyway, shops are hit and miss.  I have never seen every shot from any shop perfect.  Some are much better than others.  In the PNW we have a lot of good good ones.  I watch the pours, if the barista is pulling good looking shots I order.  If I see crooked tamps and watery pours I leave.

 
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DavecUK
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Sep 2005
Posts: 1,393
Location: UK
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Wed Oct 23, 2013, 6:35pm
Subject: Re: The Crema Test
 

It's very difficult to get a good shot in a coffee shop, so many things have to be right and usually they are not.

  1. Correctly roasted and fresh coffee of good quality
  2. Knowledgeable Barista
  3. Correct Grind
  4. Clean machine

On top of that, usually they bulk grind into a holding chamber and use a doser....which simply stales the coffee real fast. It's bad enough to have loads of beans in a hopper, exposed to the air, but when they have the grinder set to autofill the doser, its going stale in 15 minutes. I also talk about good quality coffee, it's incredible how often they don't realise it's just "pennies in the cup" and they buy really cheap coffee....but want to charge like 3.00 a cup for it!!!!
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,681
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Thu Oct 24, 2013, 7:27am
Subject: Re: The Crema Test
 

Good shops don't do any of the above errors. They grind per pull, most roast their own coffee and the staff is well trained to pull great shots and pretty darn good if not perfect milk foaming.

That is the good ones anyway. If I see any of the errors outlined above, I walk out or order a different drink, perhaps, hot cocoa?

 
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Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

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emradguy
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emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,979
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4 x2, VDD...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Thu Oct 24, 2013, 9:39am
Subject: Re: The Crema Test
 

I just went to the search tool and typed in "Tucson".  I got a bunch of hits that pointed to threads regarding cafe recommendations there.  It's a good place to start, so you can see if maybe there's somewhere not too inconvenient for you to check out.

That said, you should still make some attempt to watch the baristi in action before ordering...no matter where you go (unless you've been there before).  As you've seen already, good equipment and a pretty menu in a trendy lounge doesn't always translate to good drinks.  If you can't see what they're doing, you can always listen for the right sounds...do you hear a grinder going right before the shots are pulled? does the milk frothing sounds right?

 
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Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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gophishin
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Joined: 1 Mar 2013
Posts: 57
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: ecm technika iv profi
Grinder: baratza vario
Posted Thu Oct 24, 2013, 10:09am
Subject: Re: The Crema Test
 

Have you tried Cartel in Tucson?  I haven't been to their locations down there, but have visited many of their shops in the Phoenix area, and they are typically pretty good about doing things "right" by high volume commercial standards.  As per usual, I've found I have the best results when they aren't super busy.
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Capybaras
Senior Member


Joined: 24 Oct 2013
Posts: 10
Location: Boston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Rocket Cellini
Grinder: Breville BCG800XL
Posted Thu Oct 24, 2013, 11:37am
Subject: Re: The Crema Test
 

In my local shops, I've found the problem tends to mainly be with the barista.  Even if they have a few very solid ones, there always seems to be somebody filling in who has no idea what they are doing (high school kids, etc)
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mrhagerty
Senior Member


Joined: 7 Mar 2006
Posts: 99
Location: Tucson
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: DeLonghi EC 702
Grinder: Starbucks Barista
Drip: Melitta Porcelain
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Sat Oct 26, 2013, 2:34pm
Subject: Re: The Crema Test
 

Thanks for these.  emradguy, gophishin - We have Raging Sage in the university area, but I can't see the pull done from the counter/  They do roast their own, but I don't believe the grind per cup.

I'll look for the Cartel.  Thanks
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