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  • Unsatisfying coffee experience...?

    So I tried another cafe today (which I wont name) that used respected and locally roasted beans and also got a good write up in a review.

    Waited for my latte in anticipation and out it came with a perfect rosetta and beautifully textured microfoam. The only problem was, the coffee was white as paint ceiling! It serious looked liked a a whole lot of milk with a dash of espresso.

    Now, with milk foam like this and a fabulous rosetta pour, surely the barista must have known what they were doing! Perhaps a signature brew that looks unique and taste just look any good coffee? Well, unfortunately the result was not great and it seriously tasted like watered down hot milk.

    So I drank a little, pulled a face, left and vowed never to go back... having thought about it now, I should have taken it back to the Barista and complained... otherwise how else would they know?

    Does anyone ever send back poor coffee?

    Me thinks I should go back tomorrow again...

  • #2
    Re: Unsatisfying coffee experience...?

    Sometimes. If its from somewhere that I cant really expect much better Ill normally accept that and just drink it (or leave it) - chances are they wouldnt care particularly or know how to fix it or be bothered to ask. For example, I had morning tea at a Starbucks a few months back which I knew was a risky proposition upfront; I asked for a double ristretto, the girl didnt even know what it was and had to be told how to make it and the pour almost looked like lemon cordial by the time she stopped it. Unless you want your $2 back, whats the point in returning something saying the grind is too coarse or the extraction too long if theyre just going to look at you blankly?

    But somewhere thats using fresh coffee and pouring latte art (not that thats the only yardstick) are obviously trying to do something better than the next shop so theyre more likely to be receptive to constructive and informed feedback. It may be they were trying a new blend that day, or had just calibrated the machine or something (or had a work experience student on, shock horror!). Places that are trying to be the best normally welcome feedback on ways their product / service can be improved.

    Greg

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    • #3
      Re: Unsatisfying coffee experience...?

      I dont send bad coffee back because I dont buy out any more.

      The last time I remember anything similar Id been out for a weekend breakfast and told them I was deciding about whether or not to have a coffee.

      I watched them behind the machine for a while and eventually when questioned I said I would give it a try provided they cleaned the steam wand first.

      Yuk I know but everything else looked good and they just didnt clean it after EVERY use.

      We ended up having a discussion about the problems they were having with the wand wearing and being hard to clean.

      The coffee turned out to be nothing special but not the worst Ive had.


      By the way, just because they use respected coffee doesnt mean they know how to do it justice.

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      • #4
        Re: Unsatisfying coffee experience...?

        As a cafe owner, maybe you ordered the wrong coffee? You said it tasted like watered down hot milk. That sounds like a latte to me. Order a short mac or piccolo or even a strong flat white. Remember most cafes the produce lattes are for your mainstream customers that cant drink strong coffee. Also this cafe is most likely producing espresso that is 30mls. When you think about it, 30mls of espresso and 170-180mls of milk, that sounds pretty milky to me. Sounds like a dash of espresso and a whole lot of milk. Excatly what makes a latte. If they are using coffee that is a little too fresh the espresso would not have cut through the milk.
        If you want to really test the barista and make judgement on the cafe. Talk to the barista and let them know what you like. Maybe you are missing a great experience because of your expectation. It is important for all serious coffee drinkers to get to know the cafe and barista. If they are good they will get to know your order and know what you like.
        Going to a cafe with expectations because they got a review is pretty hard to live up too. Making up to 300-800 coffees a day in a cafe you are going to make mistakes and not everyone is going to be happy.
        Sending back coffee is great feedback. The extraction might look good, but it could taste like crap because the grinder is a little hot. We have 6 grinders in the shop and taste every second espresso to maintain some standards. But every now and again a coffee will get returned or be bad.
        One thing i would love to do. Anyone who wants to experience what it is like during rush I would love to get them behind the machine with me. Get them to write up on this forum and share their experience. See how the team works and live with the pressure and expectation of every customer. Would be great reading. Anyone up for the challenge?

        AndyL

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        • #5
          Re: Unsatisfying coffee experience...?

          Totally agree with Andy on that one.

          When I make a latte in a slightly bigger cup, it tastes really really weak and tasteless to me but my friends seem to enjoy it.

          For your average coffee drinker, its no big deal. Thats why I dont drink coffees outside anymore. I like my coffee made in a specfic way. My own bare hands!

          Id love to come to your cafe Andy!

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          • #6
            Re: Unsatisfying coffee experience...?

            Also guys its upsetting to hear people not supporting the cafe industry. There is a place for everyone and even bad coffee. People put their lives on the line and go for that dream. Many cafes near me really do it really hard. One owner starts work at 3am in the morning and finishes at 6pm. Yes the coffee is bad, but i admire him. I dont want to take his business away I want him to be really busy. I want everyone to be busy.
            To not drink coffee out anymore is an idea that closes your mind and is wrong. Many cafes push the boundaries and create new guild lines to great coffee.
            Greg.... Ordering a ristretto in starbucks? Why would you do that, knowing you are not going to get what you want. I wouldnt go to a subway and ask for a sourdough baguette with a 150 year old culture and isigny butter. But I guess it got you your story!!!

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            • #7
              Re: Unsatisfying coffee experience...?

              Im generally a milk-based drinker, but usually sway and vary my coffee order from espresso, picolo and anything through to flat whites... depending on time of day, mood, shape of the moon. You may say coffee-versatile ;D

              I thought it was strange though for this particular order to be "snow white" in looks even for a 210ml glass. I looked around at other tables but none had lattes... perhaps I should have waited and see if mine was just an anomaly. The point of this post was of course, not to pick on this cafe but to see what the general consensus (or etiquette?) was on providing such feedback.

              Originally posted by AndyL link=1210853041/0#5 date=1210857070
              Also guys its upsetting to hear people not supporting the cafe industry.... To not drink coffee out anymore is an idea that closes your mind and is wrong. Many cafes push the boundaries and create new guild lines to great coffee.
              I concur with this point. Even though I can make a relatively decent cup of coffee at home, I still nevertheless buy coffee out. I usually try a different cafe or espresso bar every day and somewhat come up with my own mental notes and favorite places/brands/barista to go to/recommend. Yesterday I paid $7 for a machiatto, a bit extreme by comparison to what I normally spend but hey I was there, and fell into the moment. Dont even ask me how much I paid for Kopi Luwak shot a few weeks ago! My point with being passionate about coffee is to experience and in my case learn what is out there... even though I may get a bad cup or two along the way

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              • #8
                Re: Unsatisfying coffee experience...?

                Originally posted by AndyL link=1210853041/0#5 date=1210857070
                Also guys its upsetting to hear people not supporting the cafe industry. There is a place for everyone and even bad coffee. People put their lives on the line and go for that dream. Many cafes near me really do it really hard. One owner starts work at 3am in the morning and finishes at 6pm. Yes the coffee is bad, but i admire him. I dont want to take his business away I want him to be really busy. I want everyone to be busy.
                To not drink coffee out anymore is an idea that closes your mind and is wrong. Many cafes push the boundaries and create new guild lines to great coffee.
                Greg.... Ordering a ristretto in starbucks? Why would you do that, knowing you are not going to get what you want. I wouldnt go to a subway and ask for a sourdough baguette with a 150 year old culture and isigny butter. But I guess it got you your story!!!
                Andy; I agree with your motive and (having worked in a busy espresso bar myself) know that cafe owners work both hard and long. However their ultimate aim, presumably, is to make coffee people want to drink. Id love that guy to be busy as Id love all cafes to be busy, but they should get that business by providing good quality coffee, not hoping that a regular stream of good samaritans will keep them afloat while they continue to serve up substandard product. Thats why most of us who are particular about coffee, when we do go out, vote with our feet and give our business to those few places that provide good quality coffee which encourages them to keep going. Supporting those who make bad coffee is just as much a disincentive for them to improve as it is a discouragement to those who are doing it right and deserved the business in the first place. If the guy youre referring to is that keen about trying to make the business run, Id hope hed be open to suggestions on how to improve his product - those are the sorts of people were happy to give a chance. Unfortunately most operators dont know and dont care about whats required to get really good coffee and are happy to serve mediocre product which satisfies those who think coffee has to have sugar.

                Regarding the ristretto, this is actually a retelling of the full story I posted a month or so ago so I didnt recount all the detail. I was there for morning tea not for coffee and only got it as an afterthought because they were offering some specialty coffee (Costa Rican I think it was) and advertised people to give it a try so I thought I would, but hoped theyd make it in such a way that it was as least likely to be overextracted as possible. I didnt expect much but Id never actually tried one from there before; what I got was about what I expected so I didnt take it back. If I go there again itll be for the food not the coffee but at least Ive given them a try.

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                • #9
                  Re: Unsatisfying coffee experience...?

                  One of the benefits of getting to know the staff at a cafe and becoming a regular there is that if the occasional stray slips under the radar you can simply take it back and ask for it to be remade to your own expectations - and in many cases the owner / barista will be only too willing to comply

                  I love it when a customer draws a (in their view) substandard coffee to my attention, and more often than not (its a bit late after they have finished it) I will make it for them again as it gives me the opportunity to exceed their expectations

                  Yesterday I remade a coffee for a woman as she accidentally dropped her take away as she was walking out the door.

                  Was I obliged to make her another one?

                  Strictly speaking, no.

                  And she even offered to pay for the replacement and questioned why I would replace it free of charge.

                  To which I replied that its not just about the coffee, its about providing a level of service that people would be willing to come back for

                  Its what differentiates you from the other guy

                  Great coffee should be the starting point - not the finishing point

                  Pat

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                  • #10
                    Re: Unsatisfying coffee experience...?

                    I think this raises an interesting question. Does the customer always know what they are ordering? Or does the customer always get what they expect. Alot of this can come down to a lack of indusrty standards, it seems every coffee standard is set by the individual coffee suppliers instead of within the cafe industry.

                    I always encourage people to complain when they are not happy. Im more than happy to remake a coffee for an unhappy customer, if they are right or not (to an extent). alot of the time they may have just oredered the wrong drink because of a lack of industry standards. 30in30, maybe your drink was below the cafes standards, but maybe it just wasnt what you expected. How would we know if you dont complain.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Unsatisfying coffee experience...?

                      I regularly drink coffee at cafes and do have a couple of favorites. However when I go out to drink coffee my expectations are not high. I have one shop where we are more than regular as my wife loves a specialty drink and I have a latte and over the time we have been going there my latte is prepared a little stronger than their regular latte.

                      This is because I have taken the time to talk to them. I have been to a Starbucks on the Gold Coast and will never darken their door again, but I will continue to frequent cafes as this is a social event and not all about the coffee. If I want a great coffee I either drink it at home or I go to particular cafes where I know there is the level of experience and love of coffee - otherwise I just enjoy the company. I have even driven over 80 kilometers just for a good coffee and conversation.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Unsatisfying coffee experience...?

                        It is so exciting in Perth at the moment, new quality coffee outlets are opening up giving a wonderful choice, especially in the CBD--Urbanistar, Cafe 54, Velvet, Zekka, Ristretto, No. 1 Epic in West Perth and the list goes on.
                        There are still heaps of franchise cafes but one does not have to endure bad coffee if well informed about where to go aka Cafe Grendel Perth coffee map!!

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                        • #13
                          Re: Unsatisfying coffee experience...?

                          I have been tempted many times to ask to pay twice as much for the coffee if I could make it myself :P

                          Its the ultimate arrogance though and I dont think i could bring myself to do it (aside from the fact they definitely say no!)

                          but Im sure youve all thought it before! "I just want a good coffee... and if you just did this, this and this, it would be SO much better!"

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                          • #14
                            Re: Unsatisfying coffee experience...?

                            i have several times at outdoor festivals offered to make my own coffee and twice i ended up working the stalls! On one occasion i got my entry fee back and made $100 for the night which wasnt bad considering it was a 5 day festival!

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                            • #15
                              Re: Unsatisfying coffee experience...?

                              maybe i should be more bold!

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