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Thread: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

  1. #1
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    What are the tell-tale signs on entering a cafe (or even before) which ring alarm bells in your mind, which tell you to run a mile, because you aint gonna get a proper espresso/cappuccino or whatever.

    In country towns, I peer through the doorway to see whether the machine has a commercial E-61 group for starters. Anything remotely resembling an electric jug or urn-- and dont bother walking in. Um, the display of lamingtons, jam tarts and other 1950s AD PE (pre-European) pastries doesnt bode well, either, in my humble experience. Chances are the establishment has just graduated from seving tea, to instant coffee. "Ex-presso? Whats that, love?"

    What are YOUR vital signs?

  2. #2
    Member C8H10N4O2's Avatar
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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    SIGHT - dirty *>:( or clean steam wand ;D/ cleanliness of hopper and level of beans in hopper relative to how busy they are/ level of ground coffee in the dosing chamber - hopefully none to minimal ;D/ cleanliness of staff uniform - tells a lot about how they work/ funky, comfortable, inviting looking decor (yes I am shallow and that draws me in!!)/ really good menu boards with clear bold writing so I can browse past from a distance and see prices and ingredients etc.

    SOUND - milk screeching *>:( vs lovely hissing ;D

    SMELL - freshly ground coffee *;D / freshly baked cakes or muffins etc.- tells me they value quality and dont buy mass produced products

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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    Im talking about country towns here...

    Fair go.... You dont go to these places expecting a coffee of the standard we take for granted at home. *And you probably are better off trying some decent homemade soup or pies or whatever else theyre offering and having a decent cup of tea. *Id much rather go to one of these places and do that than pay $4.50 for a cup of rancid dishwater served up by a wanker in a black muscle-shirt whod sneer at you as if you were ignorant when you rejected the garbage he was trying to serve up after his fake-tan sporting offsider had just finished asking: "So whatve you got planned for tonight?".

    Id go for "slightly behind the times" over *"pretentious urban chic / shiny machine but no-one knowing how to use it" any day of the week. *:-)

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    Member C8H10N4O2's Avatar
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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    I am really offended by your reply and I was only trying to join in and offer an answer to your question.

    I am really, really upset.

    And give country towns some credit.

    They are not behind the times.








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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    Dont be offended C8....the issue is not that important ;) I have seen good and bad coffee shops in the city and the country....


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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    "Chances are the establishment has just graduated from seving tea, to instant coffee. "Ex-presso? Whats that, love?"


    C8H10N402 - * The above is the quote that I was referring to - and I dont really think Robusto was even being that critical! *His post was a follow up to Andys funny picture from the houseboat. I agree with him!

    I thought my reply was pretty clearly in defence of country towns and an attack on wannaba city cafes, which I find more offensive than an honest place in the country trying to survive on a clientele which missed the turnoff to McDonalds.

    I certainly agree with everything you wrote, which is why I felt the need to value the archetypal Aussie cafe. *This is despite being subjected to the fare offered in places such as Goulburn throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s before the bypass. *My point is - and obviously I made it poorly - that these places have a unique charm (and often excel in areas other than coffee). *The analogy is that you dont go to certain parts of the world and expect air-conditioning and running water. *This is why you go there. *Sorry if you took it personally!

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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    The brand of beans a cafe uses can be telling. Having said that I cant remember the last time I saw beans that werent from Melbourne or Sydney, and would have been fairly old (2 weeks plus).
    Unfortunately I cant think of a cafe I frequent that uses locally roasted beans. A couple use Tobys which I must admit are better than average and delivered within a day or two of roasting most of the time.
    Grinders with an automatic refill mechanism so that the doser is always full, theyre a worry. Practical in a world of commercial realities but...
    Im from Tamworth originally, and when I go back there, country town cafes really scare me. Ask for a piccolo... quizzical looks followed by our latte glasses are pretty small anyway..." umm thats fine.
    Turnover can be an indicator. One of the cafes I go to during my lunch break here in Newcastle uses a 2 group ECM Veneziano. Nice machine, bugger to clean, but as a HX E61, if it isnt in fairly constant use a cooling flush would be nice, but not a common practice. The tamper (hey at least they use one) is sitting on a chux on the drip tray, this means the surface of the tamper is damp :(
    I see a tonne of fast pours or pours that turn yellow early and go on and on. If you make comment you are either a freak or that fussy guy.
    I think Im going to have to get into french press coffee. That way I can grind and prepare the coffee myself whilst at work.

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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    What about when you ask for a double strength espresso and get a large cappucino cup almost overflowing?

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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    Have you ever seen a setup where you walk in and are reassured initially by the sight of some fairly flash hardware on the counter, only to be presented with something that would make the dreaded "International Roast" look like nectar?
    The cafeteria that is owned by the business where I work has a reasonably new 3-group Rancilio and a big Gino Rossi grinder, but they STILL persist with serving coffee from a sort of glass refillable heated resevoir that is part of the espresso machine, so you have to insist "No! not from there, grind me a fresh one please" which is banged out from the 1 litre capacity, always full, auto-fill doser on the Rossi. I dont drink milk drinks at home but if I have a coffee from work, I usually do to disguise the taste!
    My boss has a fully auto Saeco with fresh beans in his exec kitchen which is marginally better.
    I think Im gonna put something small like a Carezza on the spare desk behind me in my office :-)

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    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    I avoid them ALL. I refuse to pay 30-40 times what it costs to make my espresso at home for what at BEST will only equal my homebrew and in the vast majority of cases not even be in the same league.

    Java "Coffee Snobs of the world unite!" phile

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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    Im with you, Java. *I simply wont buy it from a cafe. (With a very few exceptions).

    At work, people ask why I dont drink coffee, and I say "I dont drink coffee at work because I drink coffee." *Seems a little cryptic - but hey - being a CS is about alienation and separating the USes from the THEMs, aint it?

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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    My learning experience took me from bumming around Rome for a couple of weeks, where I couldnt find any bad coffee to Australia (Perth), where the first coffee shop that I found served one of the worst cappuccinos Ive ever tasted. Well thats what I thought at the time. Since then Ive found that the coffee shop where I work (which has a wonderful atmosphere and decent food) serves coffee so bad that even a hot mocha tastes bitter without extra sugar.

    These days I view buying coffee from a coffee shop more of an adventure. Besides, coffee is more than a drink, its an experience, so a good coffee from a shop with a good ambience is worth looking for.


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    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    Ive found that ever since my whole setup came together I simply have no interest in brewed coffee. The few times Ive stooped to buying some out of pure desperation it tasted so horrible I never took more than that first sip. All the espresso drinks Ive bought in similiar desperate straights while generally of a higher caliber were made drinkable only by ordering a latte with the liberal addition of flavored syrups. :-X

    Ive since given up getting my java fix when away from home and on extended time away have turned to other sources for the needed caffine. :-/ A sad state of affairs when every other corner has a coffee shop. :( :( :(

    Java "If the Aliens ever beam me up theyd better get my java toys too or things will NOT go well!" phile

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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    Quote Originally Posted by sharkboy link=1117440807/0#6 date=1117458355
    Unfortunately I cant think of a cafe I frequent that uses locally roasted beans.
    We were in Melbourne recently for 10 days of holiday. As we were staying in Flinders Lane, we tried out a few coffee places around there. There was one little shop just up the Lane between Elizabeth and Spencer that had a counter top roaster. Thats where we had our morning fix before heading off to sight-see.

    Ron

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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    When you walk in to the place and place your order and PBTC no. 1 says to PBTC no. 2 a short distance away "How do you make them again?" *Looking at my friend with worry in my eyes, we walk outside and not so eagerly await our drinks. *
    Out they come, with a few flecks of white/blonde stuff on the top of the black water inside the cup. *My very Italian friend takes the said concoctions back inside and tells PBTC no. 1 that he wouldnt use these to put out fires with. *PBTC no. 2, who gave the instructions to PBTC no. 1, then makes us 2 more concoctions. *These were marginally better than the first, but drinkable.
    We then attend another cafe, which had been serving excellent espressos the day before, we order and sit down. *Looking over at the young PBTC, past the shiny grinders, she then turns around away from the grinders and opens a plastic container full of ground coffee. *She then scoops the coffee out and goes to work on the shiny 3 group. *Out they came, thin, watery and with with a crema that had just about dissipated in the time she put the drinks down and we turned to say thankyou. *We then walked out and went to the nearby pub and had a few ales to clear our throats.
    I can name and shame these places if desired.
    All the best,
    Steve.

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    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    PBTC no. 1 says to PBTC no. 2

    PBTC?

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    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    Quote Originally Posted by robusto link=1117440807/15#15 date=1123972289
    PBTC no. 1 says to PBTC no. 2

    PBTC?
    Person Behind The Counter?

    Java "Jeopardy Contestant #4" phile

  18. #18
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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...


    I can name and shame these places if desired.
    I desire!

    I bought 15 odd coffees around Sydney city the monday morning after the Aroma festival. All were "double espresso" and nearly half were the "yeah, thats short black, no dont fill it up, thankyou". All but one were pretty much undrinkable and that one was after I compalined and it was remade by another "PBTC".

    From 6 second "gushers" to 60 second "dribbles" these were all establishments that were quite on a Monday morning and had plenty of time to make a good drink if they a) cared or b) knew how.

    I think we should start a "shame" thread for the places that employ staff that dont care and the owners that employ staff without training to "save a dollar". The owners of these places should be told where they can see the "snob review" and will always have the right of reply.
    (hopefuly AFTER they change their act)

  19. #19
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    I dont think youll get any argument about a shame thread file, Andy...It should help improve the unacceptable situation out there (one, which by virtue of its shortcomings, make us coffeesnobs).

    But from my experience of libel laws of this country, some judicious caution might be called for. Even restaurant reviewers are not immune from suit: the Leo Schofield case over his nomeclature for over-cooked lobsters saw to that. $100,000+ .
    Ouch.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Lovey's Avatar
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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    Gday all, let me know if you want me to drop a few names in this post, or if youre going to start a new shame file thread and Ill put them there. * I dont know about being sued for 100 grand like Leo, I think theyd be lucky to get 100 bucks out of my bank account, they may get a few moths though. *:(
    Plus, you cant get into too much trouble for telling the truth now, can you?................. can you??? *:-?
    All the best,
    Steve.

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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    Hi Lovey,

    I think you would be ok, so long as you keep your comments focussed on objectivity and your personal opinion of how the cup impressed you. Maybe if there are any Snobs out there with a legal practice who would care to comment..... :-?

    Mal.

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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    There is no issues with stating an opinion otherwise we would never see a bad review.

    Making remarks along the lines "On a specific day I was served at a particular establishment and I thought it was crap because they violated popular coffee making principle X" makes the context clear.

    Ive had good and bad coffee from the same establishment depending on who was serving. Grabbing coffee out of tupperware or short blacks with no crema are valid criticisms of generally accepted coffee preparation methods.

  23. #23
    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    I dont wish to give legal advice... (I am not a lawyer) but broadly speaking, giving personal opinions is expemted from libel. The law varies from state to state, but truth is a defence in Victoria. In NSW, truth + public interest is a defence. The intent of the "reviewer" should not be malicious.

    To slander someone (spoken word only) the offended party has to prove damages, whereas in libel (the offending material is published: i.e, generally written) only harm to the reputation has to be proved.
    The offended party can sue the author, the publisher, the editor and in exceptional cases, even the distributor.

    So there you have it. Whos first.

  24. #24
    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    Mc Cafe coffee is soooo yummmy.

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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    Hmmm.... I think Ill make an area one day that is anonymous and free for all... it will be padded with "please dont slander" and "this area is unmoderated, opinions are those of the anonymous author". *Make it an area only for members (not guests) and only those members over 18... etc etc.

    Then someone COULD review a monster corporate coffee house without geting a knock on the door. ;)

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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    Although Im not badmouthing a cafe, I have to admit that the waiters in my restaurant cant make even a half decent cup of coffee. I ask for a double espresso, and I get what tastes like half a cup of drip coffee :-/

    The guys in the kitchen were pining for me to go and make them some coffee, having given them a sample of what coffee should at least sort of taste like, but I had work to do.

    But in the end, were not a cafe, so you really cant expect much.

  27. #27
    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    But in the end, were not a cafe, so you really cant expect much.
    For the price of a couple of days training at somewhere like William Angliss Coffee Academy the waiters could be pulling top notch cuppas for the punters in no time. It would seem to me that AWESOME coffee after a fine meal would leave the customers smiling.

    Nothing worse than the very last part of your night out being spoilt by bitter stale coffee!


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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    But when you put at least two sugars and cover it with poorly textured milk, do you really taste the coffee anymore?

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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    I agree with all of you.
    I just wanted to add that most people dont know and dont care about what a good coffee is. *Most think that a bitter coffee is good strong coffee, boiling milk makes good latte, and espresso has more caffeine and is less healthy than Nescafe. *You would need to attend your cutomers into courses just so that they can appreciate the hard work, knowledge, and passion that goes into each cup. *As far as they know they are purchasing $2.80 coffee that the machine just spits out. *For most you could serve drip filtered coffee with very hot milk and they would think it is good coffee. *

    Unfortunately not everyone is like us. *
    Just look at Lindt Cafe, and many others where coffee is the main source of business. *If people would know what good coffee is then these cafes would not be in business let alone being packed out and making a heap of money.

  30. #30
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    Makes me want to open my own place so people have somewhere to go to get the good stuff! Too bad space rental is so high here. :(

    A friend opened a cafe here some years back and between the cost of the space and the lease price on the equipment they had to sell 200 espressos a day just to pay the bills, and thats not including any pay for their time. And that didnt even include the sales needed to pay back the $20,000 loan for the initial start-up (remodeling of the space) costs! They lasted less than a year before having to close the doors.

    Java "Thinking hard about it" phile

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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    Unless you have the assets necessary to open a cafe from scratch, you probably wont be able to withstand the initial losses within the first year. Your biggest outlay, besides the property, is the refit.

    You can choose to buy someone elses business that they are getting rid of for some reason (usually some vague reason like personal reasons), but you really have to see if it is a sinking ship. Maybe theyre selling it to cut their losses.

    You also see the cafe that sells so many other things besides coffee. While widening your product range may seem a good thing, more choice for customers, you have to really keep track of your sales of ancillary products. Diveristy might just be your undoing.

    The adage of KISS always applies.

    It is impractical to sell coffee out of a lemonade stand, so why try?

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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    Im in the frustrating situation where I have the skills to make a bloody good coffee but the manager, the business owner and all the other staff dont drink coffee so their eyes glaze over when I start talking about extraction rates. Then when I start talking about adjusting the grinder panic sets in: "Yeah nah, the coffee rep does that, plus it wastes a lot of coffee because you have to empty out that bit there" (points to dosing chamber). Weve just changed the coffee company and weve had some of our regular customers commenting on how nice the new coffee is, the reason its nice is because the grinder is set better (still nowhere near where it should be).

  33. #33
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    Unless you have the assets necessary to open a cafe from scratch, you probably wont be able to withstand the initial losses within the first year. Your biggest outlay, besides the property, is the refit.
    I agree Nunu, the refit is the single biggest cost, unless of course youre buying the property as oppossed to leasing or renting it. People tend to go over-board in both the refit and in the renting/leasing of equipment. Youre opening up a coffee shop ferchri$ts sake, not a Saks 5th Avenue! You can live with-out the new Corinthian Marble countertop and a complete make-over of the interior! If you insist on spending that kind of money put it into equipment instead of paying $1,500 a month to rent it! Even better realize you dont have to have the latest and flashiest looking equipment out there and that you can buy used equipment at a tenth of the cost of buying new and a twentieth or less of the cost of renting/leasing!

    In my case I have all the big buck equipment needed for opening a coffee shop. Including, once its resotration is done, a roaster that can pump out enough beans that when it can no longer keep up with demand Ill be making enough to easily buy a larger roaster.

    A refit? pftpftpft A quick scan of the local freebie give-away page will get me all the couches, chairs, and tables I need to toss around and fill the space up. ;D Pull a few bookcases out of the house here and fillem with books and Im ready for business! ;D

    Total up-front costs shouldnt be more than $1,000, not including whats needed for the space rental.

    Cost of the space is the big rub around here. With the high price of property its next to impossible for any small business to keep its doors open. Even with no employees and no starting debt, between the cost of the space (a small non-prime location), the utilities, and the insurance, roughly the first 100 cuppas you sell each day are going to pay the bills with not a penny in your pocket. :P

    Java "Doing the numbers" phile

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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    loungy furniture shouldnt be a problem. In my case, Id want to have some sort of kitchen in the place. Nothing like the cold feel of stainless steel.

    Not like real estate is cheap as chips here either.

  35. #35
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    Yeah I hear real estate prices have skyrocketed down there as well. :( In my local neighborhood actual sale prices have risen 107% in the last 2 years.

    Around here you can usually get Stainless Steel counters and work benches pretty cheap if not for free from places that are remodeling. Ive had entire kitchens offered to me for free if Id just haul the stuff away.

    Because of the high cost of space rental Ive been looking at getting my equipment into an already existing business. I almost had space in one resturant until the city stuck their nose into it and insisted that over $50,000 of upgrades be done before theyd OK it. You can imagine where I told them to stick their upgrades. ;D

    Java "Still thinking on it" phile

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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    One problem, I wouldnt go to the city just for a good cup of coffee, when I can have it at home. The suburbs really need to clean up their coffee act, and shape themselves into some sort of lifestyle lounge rather than just a simple coffee shop.

    My boss saw fit to make me coffee when he thought I didnt know how to work the machine. He gave me a single shot, and I stoppped the extraction at 20 seconds. After watching him extract a shot for what seemed like a minute just before that, I figured I was in trouble. I wanted to pull my own doppio ristretto, but he obviously had other ideas. "Dont use the double for one cup of coffee, you waste the coffee."

    Needless to say, this is a restaurant, and they really shouldnt know much about coffee. Why have an espresso machine when every coffee tastes like drip? Honestly, if the customers are blind to the fact the coffee is rubbish, then you can easily get away with a drip pot and just froth milk for capps.

  37. #37
    JM
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    Re: You should run a mile from the cafe when...

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    You should run a mile from a café when…

    The sign on the café window says, "As seen on A Current Affair."

    The café is called, “It might be Coffee”

    The café is in Snowtown

    The café is in France
    (C’mon you know it’s true – France might have good food, but the espresso is crap)

    They sell a hot beverage that comes with a warning that says the beverage may be hot

    They have a sign that says, “To beat the drought, we fill the espresso machine with drips from the air-con overflow”

    The barista looks suspiciously like Dr Kevorkian

    Your cell mate suggests you might like to try a long black

    The café owner uses down-time on the Roaster to dry his laundry

    The café specializes in syrups, sprinkles and other add-on products

    They grind their coffee beans by mouth

    Your latte art consists of a swastika

    The barista says, “You want fries with that?”




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