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Warning signs for a bad cafe

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  • Warning signs for a bad cafe

    In the last month I was fortunate enough to visit Brisbane and also Canberra. That was great but I was travelling light and had to search for a decent coffee at local cafes in both places.

    I was amazed at the absolute cr@p standards in the vast majority of cafes that I visited, which numbered around 20 in all. It was largely an exercise in frustration finding a good coffee.

    One of the worst cups came from a newish La Marzocco machine! It was like someone having a Ferrari and crunching gears. Rather than look for the type of machine used, I learnt to look for things that the professionals were doing wrong.

    The biggest tip-offs for a reason not to even bother was:-
    *plenty of ground coffee in the doser. I saw two cafes closing down for the evening and they were grinding the coffee to fill the doser for the next morning!!! I kid you not!!
    *dried milk on the frothing wands.

    What other tip-offs alert fellow Coffeesnobs to try elsewhere?





    This was enough to put me off even trying the coffee there.

  • #2
    Re: Warning signs for a bad cafe

    One of the worst cups came from a newish La Marzocco machine! It was like someone having a Ferrari and crunching gears. Rather than look for the type of machine used, I learnt to look for things that the professionals were doing wrong.
    we had a lovely breakfast "out" ... with average coffee, which was disappointing, as i had seen that they had a beautiful 3gp LM on the bench...
    the totally overworked barista (making coffee and managing the waitstaff at the same time...) dosed, knocked, dosed, levelled with the lid of the grinder, tamped "somewhat", then knocked the tamper against the side of the PF so the grinds flew everywhere, then tamped again lightly and polished... when she then turned the PF over to get rid of the loose grinds, the whole puck fell out, and she had to start again :.
    because i had asked for a small double shot latte (and it had good microfoam) the coffee tasted reasonable, although still slightly over-extracted...
    still, the location was brilliant, the food was good, and it was lovely to be out and about.

    L

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    • #3
      Re: Warning signs for a bad cafe

      Wandered into a cafe (Sydeys outer south western suburbs) that I seemed to recall used to get a lot of coffee trade.

      No one was in it and they seemed surprised they had a customer. One girl scooping lots of ground coffee into bags (from a Ditting grinder).

      Asked the lady behind the counter if she would be able to make a small double latte.
      Blank look, blink blink - "A what?" - small double latte? "Ahh...OK". Picked up a cold single basket PF, opened a tupperware container and began scooping out pre-ground coffee.

      Ahh, on second thoughts, Ive changed my mind, and backed out of the cafe shuddering. (Still gives me the heeby jeebies!)

      Obviously the business had been sold.

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      • #4
        Re: Warning signs for a bad cafe

        Originally posted by Lizzi link=1201913196/0#1 date=1201926717
        levelled with the lid of the grinder,
        What did you say!?

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Warning signs for a bad cafe

          Is it just me or do other people find this off putting?When you go to a cafe ask for a latte or a cappucino and they have 2 jugs ready 1 has steamed milk the other has foam I find this bad form.
          The other thing is when they leave the spent coffee in the porta filter, knock it out when yours is being made without flushing the shower screen with hot water yuk!

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          • #6
            Re: Warning signs for a bad cafe

            Yes............unless it is an outlet that I know will serve a good coffee I have started having a black tea rather than suffering stale, diluted dish water. When I am at shopping centres I walk around food courts and watch coffee being produced and the bad practices carried out by these establishments and cant wait to go home and have a decent java.
            See what being a CSer has done to me!!!

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Warning signs for a bad cafe

              The instant which sits upon the shelves

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Warning signs for a bad cafe

                pre-ground decaf kept in a tupperware container :P

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Warning signs for a bad cafe

                  Originally posted by Dennis link=1201913196/0#7 date=1202030660
                  pre-ground decaf kept in a tupperware container :P
                  not everyone has the luxury for a decaf grinder....not enough decaf volume for most places to justify another $800ish for a mazzer mini. And I dont think spending $200 on a Sunbeam grinder "cuts it".

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Warning signs for a bad cafe

                    I went to the shops today and walked past a cafe thats reasonable and even has Jamaica Blue, though they grind out of a rocky thats not dialed in properly, then around the corner is CBD which uses Di Bella coffee, and Jimmyb works there a few days a week.. good to have a snob behind the machine, and both had 10 or so customers each then I get to GJ and they have 25 cust. and there coffee tastes terrible... I guess its better to be seen at certain places than it is to have good coffee.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Warning signs for a bad cafe

                      When the milk is "textured" but sounds like a wounded/dying pig (Nooooooo - set the pig free !)

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                      • #12
                        Re: Warning signs for a bad cafe

                        Originally posted by Wushoes - David S link=1201913196/0#8 date=1202034325
                        Originally posted by Dennis link=1201913196/0#7 date=1202030660
                        pre-ground decaf kept in a tupperware container  :P
                        not everyone has the luxury for a decaf grinder....not enough decaf volume for most places to justify another $800ish for a mazzer mini. And I dont think spending $200 on a Sunbeam grinder "cuts it".
                        I dont accept that at all. Since when is a grinder a luxury when you run a cafe? Especially when charging $3.50. A jolly for $650 would not be such a big outlay and do the job.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Warning signs for a bad cafe

                          Agree, Dennis. A decaf customer has as much right to expect and get a properly made coffee as any other customer. If the cafe serves decaf, it should be equipped to do so irrespective of costs.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Warning signs for a bad cafe

                            Originally posted by Dennis link=1201913196/0#11 date=1202036287
                            Originally posted by Wushoes - David S link=1201913196/0#8 date=1202034325
                            Originally posted by Dennis link=1201913196/0#7 date=1202030660
                            pre-ground decaf kept in a tupperware container  :P
                            not everyone has the luxury for a decaf grinder....not enough decaf volume for most places to justify another $800ish for a mazzer mini. And I dont think spending $200 on a Sunbeam grinder "cuts it".
                            I dont accept that at all.  Since when is a grinder a luxury when you run a cafe?  Especially when charging $3.50.  A jolly for $650 would not be such a big outlay and do the job.

                            Hi all
                            I agree with Dennis there, i only do 5-6 kg a week and about 300-400grams decaf a week but i still have 2 $900 grinders. I dont see that as expensive but absolutely necessary. if i turned over more then i would love a mazzer. :
                            Though i will admit that when i first opened i only had 1 grinder and had pre ground decaf, then after learning more and speaking to different roasters i got the second grinder and now i would not have it any other way.

                            LE

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                            • #15
                              Re: Warning signs for a bad cafe

                              a synopsis, if i may...

                              1. brown, crusty "milk" on steam wand
                              2. no tamp / token uneven "tamp up on the grinder" tamp
                              3. young, pimply faced "barista" (i know this is an over-generalisation, and ive seen videos of young ones making some decent shots, however as a general rule...)
                              4. gran / pa "barista" (ibid.)
                              5. no post-steam blast and wipe of da steam pipe
                              6. the "no-look coz I dont know what to look for anyway" pour
                              7. barista: "oh, im not quite sure what brand of machine this is..."
                              8. milk in jug (and your latte) now lukewarm; five minutes ago was super boiled
                              9.
                              10.
                              11.
                              12.
                              13.

                              lets finsh off the list and then it can be printed out and laminated and kept in wallets / purses for quick reminders about what is important to us just prior to walking into a new establishment. its not that we dont know this stuff in our heads and hearts, but sometimes the burning desire for some java overrides our logical, wise mind, and may, in fact, cause some serious medium to long term damage to our sensitive palates...

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