I'm still on that journey. I do remember in the eighties when there was the transition in cafe's from Caterers Blend/International Roast to espresso. I remember my first latte in a burger restaurant on Moorabool Street in Geelong, probably 84. It was really bitter. I'm guessing the training was not the best at that time. Within a couple of years there had been a huge improvement though.
94 I went to America and realised most people drink brewed coffee. Not too bad at the time I thought with the flavoured milk options available to go in it but not as good as back home. I set up a double pot brewer at the studio as the smell of coffee was also nice to have around and I preferred it to instant.
London city in 99 I ordered a coffee and the lady who served me went out the back and started to fill the kettle. That went straight to the trash.
By that time I was using a plunger at home but mostly I was ordering out. A lot of money going on coffee a week. Even then my taste were not really developed. I was not a fan of Starbucks but I could drink it. in 2002 the manager at a Starbucks in Chicago decided I did not have to pay for any drinks in their store. So for 4.5 months while I was there coffee was free and I was happy with that. I don't think I could drink it today. I did get myself a latte glass with a handle which they kept in store and washed for me. The number of people who asked if they could get their coffee that way only to be told no was funny and a little sad. They did not even have mugs, just paper cups.
I still remember having to get used to how much stronger the coffee was when I came back home to Australia.
I came to realise that coffee here was pretty consistent and that when I would travel overseas I either researched where to go for a decent cup before I left or it was a lottery I would rarely win.
A few years ago I was catching up with a friend and she was telling me that her kid brother Rylan was working as a barista at Coffee Cartel. I had never heard of the place but dropped in on her advice.
That was like a whole new world. Places that had seemed acceptable to me before I could no longer drink their coffee. So I started to look for other places that had a similar reputation. Over time even more places I had once frequented I could no longer drink coffee at.
It was mid 2017 I decided I needed to do a course. After that I picked up a Sunbeam em6910 for $150 which had been an unused wedding present. I got rid of the black rubber insert from the portafilter as suggested in a thread here and picked up a 20gram vst basket.
I saw a coffee grinder on facebook for $99 that had been serviced. I saw no brand name so did a reverse image search and found out it was a Cunill Gap. I picked that up and replaced the dosser with the Cunill funnel from coffeeparts. Both have been working well.
I picked up a second em6910 for $50. No water came out as it was blocked with coffee but a good clean and a new steam pump and it works perfectly. I added an em0480 that required shims (it had none) to that machine and that will now be my traveling kit. I threw out too many coffees in NSW on my last visit and even the Grampians recently the coffee was a bit rough. There is one place down there that get the beans from Code Black and a young girl who works in the morning makes a great cup but the grumpy manager makes it from mid afternoon and you can barely drink the stuff.
I still feel I have a long way to go and every time I buy beans at a specialty roaster I ask for tips to help me improve. I can say there are several more places I cannot go to now that I would not have thought twice about a year ago. So I feel like i'm making progress.
My art is rubbish. Maybe that is another course.