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Coffee in Europe - they need some lessons in a hurry!!

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  • Coffee in Europe - they need some lessons in a hurry!!

    I've just spent 6 weeks travelling through Europe from Romania to Ireland and boy is there coffee crap. I found it almost impossible to get a latte and when I did they didn't know how to make it. One cafe called Costa, a chain like Starbucks, poured a full tall glass with foamed milk and added the shot after. The so called barista asked why I wasn't happy so I told him he'd just made a ridiculously extra foamy cappuccino and he got angry. In Switzerland most places use automatic machines so most cups were all foam and little flavour. A lot had a drink called Latte macchiato which ended up being another overly foamed cappuccino. Only once (and I really am a coffee snob) did I have real success. A small speciality shop in Prague actually made a proper latte with a rosetta on top. Even Italy's coffee weren't that great. There cappuccinos weren't bad but in general I found there drinks poorly made. Maybe I didn't look hard enough and others may have had more success but 2 or 3 bought coffees a day for 6 weeks, you'd think I'd have more than about 5 good cups. My wife got sick of me trying to find specialty cafes and when I did they weren't that good. We really are the lucky country from a coffee point of view. I couldn't wait to get home and hit the streets of Melbourne and of course my own home made coffees which are better than all the cups I had travelling.

  • #2
    Originally posted by barri View Post
    Even Italy's coffee weren't that great. There cappuccinos weren't bad but in general I found there drinks poorly made.
    Crikey Barri, you must be pretty hard to please, we just spent a month in Italy traveling from North to South, overall found the coffee to be excellent, high quality and very well priced.

    Cant comment about the rest of Europe.

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    • #3
      My wife experienced the same as Yelta. High quality espresso, cappucino and caffe latte in Italy.
      Elsewhere in Europe she stayed away from the chain stores as they are no better than GJ, Zaffas etc.

      Funny thing, when tourists come to Australia, they say our coffee is too sour and head for Starbucks.

      Each country has their own coffee culture and tastes. To say they need a lesson seems a bit harsh. I do agree with your analysis of espresso based beverages in certain countries, but that same experience can be found in many places in Australia.

      Hope you enjoyed your trip.

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      • #4
        Yes....each country has their own way, and when we travel, we need to be mindful of that. Also, I understand the so called "larteh" is a peculiarly Australian (or american) thing and a barista in another country should not be berated for not knowing what we are asking for, particularly as many of them know that the Italian word for milk is latte. I'd say you were lucky to have received a shot of coffee in it at all. The world does not revolve around the Oz interpretation of what we think coffee should be like.

        When I travel (often enough) I wont go out of my way looking for coffee. I don't travel to go to cafes, I travel for work or to go site seeing. If its in front of me I try it (if it looks ok), if its not in front of me, I will not go out of my way looking, however I do understand that we are all different.

        The coffee in Italy is a lot better than it used to be and I can usually get a reasonable cuppa in places like train stations and airport, in shops that are not "specialty". Just keep away from the big name brands, you know which ones, because you will get a cup full of of caffeine disguised as robusta and tasting very much like dirt. But they don't have the stronghold they used to and there are enough smaller brands out there that you will get a reasonable cuppa from. And instead of "forcing" them to make something they are not familiar with (larteh or Oz style capp which is not european style), just try what they drink. When I travel I am always asking them for their wine and their food because I want to experience that. Why not their coffee?

        The coffee in Switzerland is still aweful for the most part, and their culture is to use expensive commercial size automatic machines that are invariably out of adjustment so will happily automatically reproduce the same awefulness over and over again. But that is their culture, and they obviously like it. If you stop in front of a place that has a regular (non auto) coffee machine, that is where you are more likely to get a good'un.

        And as stated in the previous post, we are not immune to having bad coffee experiences in our own country.

        I would ask travelers to have a bit of understanding about other people's cultures.

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        • #5
          Reminds me of the Monty Python sketch, taking the "P" out of pommy tourists in Spain & Portugal, who go travelling, but then whinge about everything, especially the fact they can't get Pommy food, and want their, (and this is now a bit dated), "Watneys Red Barrel".

          However having said that, I did find it safer (for my palette), to skip any milk based coffees in the UK. I stuck to straight Espresso shots. I generally found the coffee to my taste in Italy.

          GrahamK
          Last edited by GrahamK; 4 July 2014, 02:27 PM.

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          • #6
            I have spent quite a bit of time in Europe and generally the coffee is ok, Italy was quite good at nearly all places Espresso only. Even in Croatia I had good coffee at most places.
            Paris was a let down and they struggled to make a decent milk based coffee again a shot was generally ok.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by GrahamK View Post
              Reminds me of the Monty Python sketch, taking the "P" out of pommy tourists in Spain & Portugal, who go travelling, but then whinge about everything, especially the fact they can't get Pommy food, and want their, (and this is now a bit dated), "Watneys Red Barrel".

              However having said that, I did find it safer (for my palette), to skip any milk based coffees in the UK. I stuck to straight Espresso shots. I generally found the coffee to my taste in Italy.

              GrahamK
              Brings to mind the story of a tourist visiting a premium Swiss chocolate retailer, asked in a broad American accent "doncha have any Hershey bars?

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              • #8
                In Italy at least--
                caffe macchiato--espresso "stained" with foamed milk,
                latte macchiato--milk "stained" with espresso.

                I had pretty good coffee everywhere in Italy. I just asked for a caffe ristretto. There always seemed to be a small jug of steamed milk on the bar for me to make my own macchiato.

                Greg
                Last edited by GregWormald; 6 July 2014, 11:08 AM.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by GregWormald View Post
                  In Italy at least--
                  caffe macchiato--espresso "stained" with foamed milk,
                  latte macchiato--milk "stained" with espresso.
                  Exactly! And when you ask for the default 'caffè', it is exactly that i.e. what we fumble about calling 'short black' or 'espresso'.

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                  • #10
                    This Euro bashing is quite pointless and not remotely interesting.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Brevillista View Post
                      This Euro bashing is quite pointless and not remotely interesting.
                      I can understand someone showing no interest in a topic, what puzzles me is if the thread is of no interest why contribute to it and extend its life?

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                      • #12
                        What Euro bashing?

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                        • #13
                          Sorry for defending Europe.

                          "We Shall Fight on the Beaches ". :-)

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Brevillista View Post
                            Sorry for defending Europe.

                            "We Shall Fight on the Beaches ". :-)
                            Apology accepted, now lets get back on topic.

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                            • #15
                              I was in Europe a few months ago and Portugal by far had the best coffee. The espresso was the best I've had I think! France was ok for espresso and terrible for everything else. Italy was average...very average. No one drinks caps and flat whites , so if you want a decent coffee you should stick with espresso and you will have more success

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