If they also serve fish and chips.
Assuming that from the outside a cafe shows a semblance of appearing normal, what, upon entering, makes you do a u-turn for the exit?
Firstly, anything but a proper commercial coffee machine would see me do an about face.
Preferably a 3-group. A two-group would at least sow seeds of doubt and if I see a prosumer 1-group machine I'd also be out of there pronto.
The choice of cakes....that could also be a turn off. If all I see is lamingtons and brownies I'll assume the owners are still mired in the '50s and '60s.
Soft drink crates passing for furniture or weathered fence palings will propel me towards the door irrespective of how good the barista or machine is.
If I just want good coffee I can stay at home and get it. I also want atmosphere.
And perhaps, finally...whatever there is to sit on must have a backrest. Balancing on stools is not for me.
If the cakes look like they’ve all been brought in from a factory and there’s nothing that looks like it’s made on the premises.
I look at the coffee on tables and if they look like just milk or grey then I walk out.
If the barista looks 15 or 16 I’ll also walk out.
Nothing wrong with a 2 group machine. A lot of very good specialty cafes run a 2 group Kees, Synesso etc.
What scares me off is:
A steam wand with cheese caked on to it
Pimply teenager on the machine
Cups or mugs the size of soup bowls.
A clapped out Mazzer Major with a doser full of ground coffee.
Bottles of hazelnut and vanilla syrup next to the machine.
There’s an idea coffee chips....
Here's an observation: (sorry if this is not exactly answering the Thread Heading, but I think it is the disease underneath some of the symptoms:
Yesterday, pumped up by loads of practise shots from my new ECM Classika, I was so excited and happy that I decided to visit a cafe in town, run by guys that I know personally from years back. They are always friendly and I sometimes stop by there for a quick hello and a cuppa. I showed my friend (part owner of the cafe) pictures and a quick video clip shot upwards, showing beautifully pouring tigerstripy extraction hesitantly settling to the centre of my naked PF.
"What do you think, mate?", I asked proudly, "my new machine!"
I was shocked at his reply. Glum and serious looking, he said quietly and unenthused, almost like talking to himself: "hmmm, we don't really like those sort of things...."
On my way home I was wondering what he meant:
That they don't really like people drinking their coffee at home?
That they don't like people discovering how good espresso actually can be?
That they don't really get it when people are excited about coffee?
Needless to say, cafe business is a tough game and most of them are chasing the dollar with the lowest cost commercial blend, instead of chasing some golden quality brew. But I was saddened to see someone in the coffee business being so unenthusiastic about coffee...
Call me cynical, but sometimes I feel that nobody has time to produce quality anything. You gotta pump some good looking crap out in a hurry to be "competitive". Perhaps this is an underlying problem in many aspects of our world. Including cafes.
"hmmm, we don't really like those sort of things...."
after watching their loyal customer's
> beautifully pouring tigerstripy extraction hesitantly settling to the centre of my naked PF.
That's a shame. So long as they were not busy they should have been interested if they were really interested themselves in a career in coffee.
But when you look at a really good cafe in the morning at 9 am they have a queue of 20 to 30 persons. When I go at 10:30 for my sit-down double ristretto its a queue of several to a dozen. They do look at how mine comes out but its not out of a naked PF and they can't stand there and admire tiger-stripy extraction. They have waiting customers. I pay $3.70. Now if there was a cafe that had a naked PF and the baristas stood there and carefully made sure that extraction was very good (hey one could have it up on a wall TV!) each coffee would take longer to make. Would I be prepared to pay $5 or $6 for that coffee? They do need to serve customers quickly.
No, they weren't busy. No customers and the young girl behind the machine. The boss had a moment, so no worries with the rush. And I didn't think it anything to do with the naked or spouted PF's. It sounded like home-espresso is just competing with cafe business. They have been struggling for some time with their cafes. There's one on every corner in the city.
Dirty steam wand will always make me leave without ordering a coffee.
I usually watch a couple get made as well if I don't know the place. If they don't look good and/or I hear the milk screaming, I'm off.
If I don't hear the grinder whilst watching them make some, also a bad sign.
Having said all that, I've probably only bought a handful of coffees at a cafe over the last year. Mostly when away from home.
The thought of what awaits me at home.
An obvious lack of cleanliness is the main thing that turns me off - piles of ground coffee on the bench around the grinder(s), a coating on the steam wand, excessively dirty towels hanging from a hook or the side of the knock tube, dirty milk jugs sitting around with scraps of milk in them, and a generally dirty machine (if I can see it). If I get past that thereís a few other bad signs such as milk being left on or under the bench rather than in the fridge, screaming sounds being made when steaming milk, and branding proudly displaying a Ďcommercialí brand such as Lavazza, Vittoria or Grinders. Iíll always try to watch a coffee being made if Iím in a queue and have the chance as well. One particular local cafe seems to the think a 7 second total extraction time is acceptable as Iíve been there 3 or 4 and itís been like that every time. No idea what the coffee tastes like cause after seeing that I wasnít willing to waste any money to try one.
Any mention of the word 'Expresso' on the signage or menu.
A proud display of 50 bags of Vittoria on a shelf up high.......
Speaking of driving, this analogy might explain the indifferent response from the guy at the cafe:
Say over the years you've bought a few cars from the local Mazda dealer.
Then one day, the dealer is sitting in his dealership, looking at the months sales numbers, hoping to make budget etc.
Right at that moment you rock up and start showing him videos on your phone of yourself cruising around in your new Tesla.
I reckon you'd probably get exactly the same reaction as you described.
Too many options,
Beans from here, beans from there, single origins, blends, short / long roasts, light / dark, grass roasts,
Single, double, tripple, small, medium, large, supersize,
Milk from cows, goats, sheep, fava beans, nuts
Light, skinny, full fat variations of the above
Meanwhile, from a different perspective:
When Sydney husband-and-wife team Linden Pride and Nathalie Hudson took over a much-loved, 100-year-old cafe in New York's Greenwich Village, the response was swift and brutal."What's coming to Caffť Dante is even worse that we thought," one blogger wrote after a local publication found Pride's liquor licence application and shuddered at its unbearably trendy promise of "seasonal flatbreads", "clean, healthy eating" and artisanal cocktails "garnished with salad".
"It's a real loss for New York," New York magazine wrote, lamenting the end of a neighbourhood hangout famed for its day-and-night espresso and old Italian regulars who chain-smoked and played chess on footpath tables.
Four years later though, it seems Pride can do no wrong. Last weekend, Dante, as it was renamed, was crowned the best bar in the world by industry group Tales of the Cocktail. It added to a packed trophy cabinet: best bar in New York, according to Time Out; best American restaurant bar for two years running, according to Tales of the Cocktail, and ninth on the prestigious World 50 Best Bars list.
The number one turn off that has me stop dead and walk out is the smell of burned coffee. Too many places these days...
And YES @herzog!!! You can truly find a Seinfeld bit to explain or use as an analogy for most things XD
Good thread! Definitely the cleanliness factor, wand covered in milk, portafilters not locked in on rest, and always try to catch a glimpse of how the barista works, if they clearly know the important basics etc. But these won't necessarily turn me away from a place, just I'm less likely to get a coffee from there
We Aussies expect businesses to cater to every little self diagnosed allergy/intolerance/preference, we make, we've turned into a nation of fragile, offended, entitled, self absorbed types who expect the world to bow down to every outrageous request/demand we make.
As far as our beverage of choice is concerned it seems the public at large no longer drink coffee, but some sweetened adulterated coffee based concoction.
Hows that for a morning rave?
I think we are gradually evolving past the Starbucks-style of beverages. Here in Sydney, it's not hard to find a good cafe serving good coffee.As far as our beverage of choice is concerned it seems the public at large no longer drink coffee, but some sweetened adulterated coffee based concoction.
Cheer up!Hows that for a morning rave?
I feel I am a lot more tolerant than a fair few of those that have commented.
Besides a dirty steam wand or a bunch of preground coffee in the doser, Iíll give most places a chance
I have had some amazing coffee on a wega and Mazzer super jolly and some terrible on synesso and Mythos.
As for who is making the coffee, I actually find the younger ones take a lot more care. I have walked away once from one person in all my time. She was mid 40s and was very inconsistent when cutting off a shot (one was 15seconds and the one next to it was 1 minute) She just cut it off when she was ready.
Now, whether or not I go back is another question.
I was in Singapore in March-April and it has come a long way since my previous visit in 2014. While it still has its fair share of crapucchino type cafes, I had a quite reasonable coffee at a few places such as The Sandwich Shop in Collyer Quay. Even the cup I bought at the Singapore Zoo was surprisingly drinkable
In my brief experience a year or so ago, The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, is in Ho Chi Minh & others, and better than some, but stick to black or macchiato, they screw up the milk.
This trip I took the ride to the top observation deck of the Marina Bay Sands hotel/casino and wasworthwhile. The nearby Gardens by the Bay isn't bad either.
Several museums in Singapore - check this out. For me, Singapore is about family (in-laws) and food but I couldn't live there-climate too oppressive.
Anyway, we are way off topic.
Back on topic.
Here's an instance that caused me to leave without ordering.
In a WA goldfields town, noticed a sandwich board advertising espresso, walked into what was obviously a sandwich bar (the sign was perhaps the clue) no sign of an espresso machine, asked the question, the lady answered in the affirmative, reached under the counter and dragged out a cold Silvia which she plonked on the bench and proceeded to plug in, was a little nonplussed when I demurred, perhaps I missed an opportunity, guess I'll never know.
What draws me into a cafe is what is in the hopper, and in recent times even where the hopper is located. I wont order a coffee if all they have is one of the generic brands Piazza Doro, Vitorria... Now i am starting to sound like a Coffee Snob "I had a laugh" but anyway, now that i have developed an appreciation for what coffee can offer in its pure extraction ie: Espresso or a Long Black. and 2, correct me if i'm wrong as i really am quite new to finer points of coffee... but when the hopper is sitting in the window enjoying the sunshine, diminishing the potential greatness that was once held in those artisan roasted beans... That's where I want to be sitting
Vittoria beans... Or beans that look black and oily.
Then time the shot in my head. If it's near 30 sec...then ok.
Although I drink black coffee, I am learning to hear when milk is steamed to temperature. So could avoid scalded milk by ear..
A few of these are too judgemental IMO -
Cleanliness of gear is a must. Awful sounds and smells are also an "instant exit" for me.
As regards menus - a couple of years ago I visited our local, award winning (i.e. a wall full of them, quite a few Oz wide and a couple of international) "Kent St Deli". They did (and hopefully still do) excellent food of all stripes* plus pretty good coffee in a nice atmosphere "for a (modestly extra) fee".
food of all stripes* - Anything from fish and chips to some pretty exotic specialties from a constantly changing menu. Every dish I tried was superb, and all their "made in site" drinks were good+.
Commercial bean - particularly 'Vittoria' advertised anywhere.
Big ugly cups / no 150ml cup for my Long-black .
Lots of pensioners sitting around drinking buckets of milky swill.
Noisy (think very noisy) surroundings.
All of the staff are 'McDonalds' age.
I don't know about these comments of dirty surroundings, the local council inspector would shut down any sub par establishment pretty quickly.
Most establishments have decent gear and are clean. Some of the best are very busy and thriving, so noise and atmosphere is a must.
Equipment is usually of a high standard, so the only way to judge the cafe, is to judge the barista.
If they don't have any visible tattoos, then I will not enter the premises. The more the merrier these days. It seems to be a badge of honour, and is a dead giveaway.
The other tell, is the code of dress of the barista. If they are not wearing the latest, trendiest designer t-shirt, then they are no good. Their outfit has to cost at least $1000, to signify their worth.
If they are clean cut and wholesome, with ironed clothes, then they are beginners, and the coffee will be lousy.
If the barista has no soul or vibe, how can they possibly relate to what is in the cup?