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Thread: Ordering weak coffee

  1. #1
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    Ordering weak coffee

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Just wondering when a customer orders a half strengh or 1/4 strengh coffee what methods are used to arrive at this by fellow coffeesnobs? Do you just cut the shot short?
    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    mwatt
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    Re: Ordering weak coffee

    Weak- Id make it on a ristretto base.

    1/4 strength? What the heck?!
    Hehe, pour a shot, tip it out, then pour milk into the dirty cup? ;D

    Seriously, why do people bother?

  3. #3
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    Re: Ordering weak coffee

    Just pull the shot into a bowl and fill it with water and milk. At least theyre getting the full shot. hahahaha.

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    Re: Ordering weak coffee

    Quote Originally Posted by Michelle link=1210563767/0#1 date=1210567042
    Weak- Id make it on a ristretto base.

    1/4 strength? What the heck?!
    Hehe, pour a shot, tip it out, then pour milk into the dirty cup? ;D

    Seriously, why do people bother?

    Ive had quite a few customers ask for this on a regular basis. Some just dont like strong coffee, but I have a couple of regulars who cant drink it at all. They both say it makes them ill :S Not sure whether its an allergy thing (that would be most odd) or if it affects their stomach (IBS or some such).

  5. #5
    Senior Member fatboy_1999's Avatar
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    Re: Ordering weak coffee

    I reckon its often that people dont really know what it is they do or do not like in a coffee.

    Im not being facetious. I heard a comment on a food show a while back that I think has merit.

    Many people think they dislike strong coffee when in fact, they dislike bitter coffee.
    When they make coffee at home (probably a plunger), they think "I dont like it strong, so Ill use less coffee". The result is that there is not enough coffee for the water, and they end up with a brew that is more bitter than it should be. In the end, they give up making coffee at home and go out to cafes, "as long as they dont make it too strong".

    Still, it doesnt really explain a 1/4 strength request. Wave some coffee in the general vicinity and be done with it.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Magic_Matt's Avatar
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    Re: Ordering weak coffee

    I know someone who is allergic to caffeine - any coffee, chocolate, tea etc apparently has, erm, explosive consequences... :-/ :o

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    Re: Ordering weak coffee

    Quote Originally Posted by Rukudo link=1210563767/0#3 date=1210572185
    Some just dont like strong coffee, but I have a couple of regulars who cant drink it at all. They both say it makes them ill :S Not sure whether its an allergy thing (that would be most odd) or if it affects their stomach (IBS or some such).

    Strong coffee is known to bring on a migraine in people who suffer from that debilitating disease..... Some sufferers cant take coffee at all!!!

    Guess they will never become CoffeeSnobs - even if they do like the taste!

  8. #8
    mwatt
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    Re: Ordering weak coffee

    Quote Originally Posted by Michelle link=1210563767/0#1 date=1210567042
    *
    I get that some people cant drink coffee, but I still dont understand ordering a 1/4 shot. Thats what ... 7.5ml of coffee, in how much milk?
    Hehe, Michelle needs to take Michelles advice *::)

    Edit: oops, I dont know what I just did. Suffice to say i was trying to point out my own foolish hypocrisy (such a harsh word :-?) given my comments further along this thread about taste being subjective ... ;D ;D

  9. #9
    Senior Member Dennis's Avatar
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    Re: Ordering weak coffee

    Ive heard that the stomach is most sensitive (not in a good way) to alcohol, chocolate, and coffee. So what do we commonly have to cap off a good meal....;)

    The terms strong and weak often mean different things to people. When people ask for strong coffee I always as them for more info eg. what they like and dislike in regards to coffee. It usually turns out that they are looking for a coffee with a good, lingering flavour and full body - not necessarily strong at all. Well, not my definition of strong anyway!

  10. #10
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Ordering weak coffee

    I get comments that my Kimel tastes mild.
    That could equate to "weak" for some people and the opposite would then be "strong".

    A coffee with a "strong" taste or a "mild" taste could both be made with the same amount of coffee, the difference would be the bean or the roast profile etc.

  11. #11
    Super Moderator scoota_gal's Avatar
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    Re: Ordering weak coffee

    Funny that this should be brought up today.

    I had a customer ask for a quarter strength coffee today. I just pulled the mug out when I judged what was about the strength the customer wanted. I actually went a bit weaker as I knew that if it was weaker than what they thought they wanted, then they wouldnt complain.

    The rest of the shot went into my little jug for iced coffees.

    I also recently had a customer just ask to have the coffee to be put in a jug on the side so as they could make it to their taste. I didnt find that offensive, as I think that it was the best idea yet. At least theyd only have themselves to blame if their coffee had been made too strong!

    You learn after a while what makes a coffee weak in different milks too.

    And I agree that most people think that "strong" actually equates to "bitter". We really experienced that at "Celebrate the Bean" the other month. So many people couldnt believe it when you explained that coffee should not have any bitterness.

    Im not offended when people want weak coffee. After all, my job is to serve them and do it to the best of my ability. Not just to please myself. Well, thats how I see it at least. Im more offended when the coffee mug or cup comes back with coffee in it because then I wonder what was wrong that they didnt want to finish their coffee.

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    Re: Ordering weak coffee

    Thanks for the replies folks. One of the reasons i posed the question was that if a customer asked for a 1/4 strength coffee and you poured a ristretto shot. wouldnt a ristretto shot taste just as strong to them? isnt it a more full bodied (im struggliing for a description on a ristretto) tasting shot? Believe me it is not uncommon to be asked by customers for a 1/4 strength shot.

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    Re: Ordering weak coffee

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg41 link=1210563767/0#11 date=1210591373
    Thanks for the replies folks. One of the reasons i posed the question was that if a customer asked for a 1/4 strength coffee and you poured a ristretto shot. wouldnt a ristretto shot taste just as strong to them? isnt it a more full bodied (im struggliing for a description on a ristretto) tasting shot? Believe me it is not uncommon to be asked by customers for a 1/4 strength shot.
    A properly extracted ristretto, cut short at 20ml, will avoid the acidity of blonding that tends to happen with a 30ml traditional espresso ... As espresso is the commonly accepted base of milk based coffees, the higher acidity level of beans in the blend will pre-dispose the bev as bitter to the customer.

    Weak? Cut the shot short ... thatd be the way Id prepare a weak coffee as the base for milk if any customer asked for such.

    Strength of taste, as others have said, boils down to personal perceptions ...

    Bitterness is not strong - just either mediocre beans, OR barista inaptitude in not purging/cleaning the groups from excess build-up of ground old gunk.

    & as Dennis alluded to earlier, question/probe the customer for an answer as to exactly what they want with their coffee experience ...

    you may change their idea of what strong/weak coffee actually means! ;)

    Tony

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    Re: Ordering weak coffee

    Yeah thanks Tony. Getting to know the customers experience is important. A lot of customers are confused because of inconsistent coffee from cafe to cafe.

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    Re: Ordering weak coffee

    Id just go a really short shot - if they dont like "strong" coffee its probably to do with some of the bitterness and so a ristretto would probably suit them best anyway due to it being a lot sweeter (as someone said before)

    Either that or you recommend a large :)

    a

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    Re: Ordering weak coffee

    Quote Originally Posted by scoota gal link=1210563767/0#10 date=1210587609
    And I agree that most people think that "strong" actually equates to "bitter". We really experienced that at "Celebrate the Bean" the other month. So many people couldnt believe it when you explained that coffee should not have any bitterness.
    Hate to point out the obvious, but coffee is BITTER! A good coffee should be sweet (extremely hard to coax out with espresso), have a good acidity and be bitter. Not overly or unbalanced. A good coffee will be balanced between these 3 aspects. Anyone who claims coffee isnt bitter needs to get a new tongue. ::) Those who do not like coffee are extremely sensitive to how bitter coffee is. Those of us who cup 20+ espressos in 30 minutes will find only some coffees extremely bitter and other extremely sweet or acidic. Our palates get used to this bitterness. I like bitterness is coffee, it can be a pleasant dimension to the coffee. Just as long as the bitterness doesnt present itself as ashy or burnt.

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    Re: Ordering weak coffee

    Quote Originally Posted by Wushoes - David S link=1210563767/15#15 date=1210602670
    Quote Originally Posted by scoota gal link=1210563767/0#10 date=1210587609
    And I agree that most people think that "strong" actually equates to "bitter". We really experienced that at "Celebrate the Bean" the other month. So many people couldnt believe it when you explained that coffee should not have any bitterness.
    Hate to point out the obvious, but coffee is BITTER! A good coffee should be sweet (extremely hard to coax out with espresso), have a good acidity and be bitter. Not overly or unbalanced. A good coffee will be balanced between these 3 aspects. Anyone who claims coffee isnt bitter needs to get a new tongue. ::) Those who do not like coffee are extremely sensitive to how bitter coffee is. Those of us who cup 20+ espressos in 30 minutes will find only some coffees extremely bitter and other extremely sweet or acidic. Our palates get used to this bitterness. I like bitterness is coffee, it can be a pleasant dimension to the coffee. Just as long as the bitterness doesnt present itself as ashy or burnt.
    Good point Wushoes - David S. I too believe coffee has a bitterness to it. Especially noticeable when you first start drinking it and especially short blacks. "Burnt" taste is the second most popular complaint, so i think bitter and burnt are the description the customers are trying to get across to me.(not my coffee by the way).

  18. #18
    Super Moderator scoota_gal's Avatar
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    Re: Ordering weak coffee

    Quote Originally Posted by Wushoes - David S link=1210563767/15#15 date=1210602670
    Anyone who claims coffee isnt bitter needs to get a new tongue. ::)
    Oh well, obviously I have to get a new tongue then... ::)

    Good coffee doesnt taste bitter to me. So going by what you say, I must not be drinking coffee! ::)

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    Re: Ordering weak coffee

    Hey scoota gal. To me coffee doesnt taste bitter anymore. to me it is the elexier of the gods.( is that how you spell that word?) only when i started first drinking short blacks i thought i could detect bitterness. Then again what is the best description of bitterness? is it like lemon or something. Maybe some of you cuppers out their could help me out here.

  20. #20
    mwatt
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    Re: Ordering weak coffee

    Theres good bitter and theres bad bitter.

    Bad bitter - over-extract a shot (try pulling 30ml in 60secs or longer, for example) and taste it. Very bad bitter, burnt bitter etc.

    I believe good espresso does have a bitterness to it (for starters it does contain caffeine, which is incredibly bitter). Just as good dark chocolate has a bitterness to it. Perhaps bitter-sweet makes it less confusing. Its a well-balanced bitter. Maybe people dont notice it when its balanced out by the sweetness and acidity of a good shot.

    I think I heard recently that a reasonable % of the population is bitter-blind, which is interesting, though Im having trouble digging up any references to support that.

    And then theres the subjective: if someone says it aint bitter, then, to them, it aint bitter! You cant just dismiss someone because they dont taste what you do.

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    Re: Ordering weak coffee

    Spot on Michelle. Every persons tastebuds are differnt.

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    Re: Ordering weak coffee

    Humans are a strange breed of cattle!!!

    Some of us a colour blind - cant tell red from green, some of us have a strange hearing problem - look at the music we think is great....... our sense of smell and what smells "good" varies....... so why would our sense of taste be any different!

    Our senses are "trained" from an early age...... "Look at the red ball"..... so our brain registers whatever we see as red.... and that is reinforced every time we see something and are told it is "red"...... but who knows if we all see exactly the same thing...... we have been conditioned to call that optical stimuli "red" - plain and simple....

    Some people find something sweet... "sickly"..... maybe that is unusual sensitivity to the sweet stimuli..... maybe it is as a result of conditioning from an early age..... who knows....

    I love dark chocolate.... the darker and purer the better..... i.e very little or no sugar..... there is a little bitterness there.... only a little to my palate - but to others "How could you eat that - its so bitter?"

    So whether it is from differences in our genetics, the way our senses have been "trained" or even in some cases - our desire to please others..... everyones sense of sight, hearing, smell and taste are different - or perceived as different..... and that isnt a bad thing - just something we have to be aware of!!

  23. #23
    Senior Member greenman's Avatar
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    Re: Ordering weak coffee

    Some days my initial first sip has a bitter taste but as soon as it reaches the back of my mouth and tongue the richer characteristics take over and fill my mouth with wonderful taste sensations.
    Overextracted espresso is another matter, it is bitter and burnt and not nice at all Jan!!!!

  24. #24
    Wine_of_the_Bean
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    Re: Ordering weak coffee

    Id like espresso without the crema. Often I find most of the off-tastes are in the crema itself.

    I dont find pure dark chocolate bitter, its more sour to me.

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    Re: Ordering weak coffee

    A lot of what we taste is determined by our sense of smell..... it "pre conditions" our brain to expect certain stimuli on our tongue to be activated (Ever seen the experiment when a blindfolded subject was give a sweet smelling odour stimuli and asked to eat an onion - they thought it was an apple!!!)

    So as there are more volatiles in the crema..... that stimulates your olfactory senses.... and you sense of taste gets skewed!!

  26. #26
    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Re: Ordering weak coffee

    My basic experience came when I started taking my espresso machine to work every Thursday before Easter and treating the staff to coffee and hot cross buns.
    Most people who said they wanted their coffee weak were quite happy drinking *my* DOUBLES, and often had two or three!
    My assumption from this was that weak coffee was wanted mostly because the standard coffee they had experienced was so bitter and over-extracted, and the milk over-heated, that they wanted less of that flavour.
    There were a few who diluted even my shots because they really wanted a weak coffee, but they were the minority.
    Greg

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    Re: Ordering weak coffee

    Quote Originally Posted by JavaB link=1210563767/15#24 date=1210636737
    So as there are more volatiles in the crema..... that stimulates your olfactory senses.... and you sense of taste gets skewed!!
    But there often does seem to be more bitterness in crema, even if the liquid below does not taste bitter. This is not olfactory, since bitterness is not an aroma, but tasted on the tongue. The volatiles that are released in the mouth dont prevent you tasting the bitterness, if its there. The reason the onion test works, is that the taster has their nose blocked, so they only sense the acidity and texture, which must resemble apple. Open your nose, and you will get a shock.

    Mind you, all this is dependent on an individuals sensitivity to bitterness, and their reaction to it, as well as their expectations about what their drink should taste like. If there were absolutely no bitterness in coffee at all, then I would find it too much like hot chocolate, or similar beverage. Even with cocoa, I like some bitterness to make it more intense, like bitter chocolate - or coffee. And there are bright bitters and dull bitters. And certainly Michelle is right about balance.

    But you only have to look at the long lines of people at outdoor events ordering very sweet hot chocolates with tons of milk and a marshmallow to see that most people prefer to highlight sweetness rather than bitterness, especially for comfort. If the milks done right, a weak coffee will naturally be sweeter.

    matt

  28. #28
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Re: Ordering weak coffee

    Mmmm,

    I love the Crema of a nicely poured espresso made with decent beans. Always seems more intense rather than bitter to my palate, kind of sizzles on the tongue and I cant get enough of the stuff. Mind you, if the shot hasnt been poured properly or less than optimum beans used, then bitter is probably too short a word to describe the taste.... :o :P

    Mal.

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    Re: Ordering weak coffee

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    I wouldnt say its because the coffees not extracted properly, or well. And its not necessarily bad, either. It just seems to be the case that any bitterness there is can be more concentrated in the crema, even when unnoticeable in the body of the espresso. Its something Ive often seen commented upon in the literature as an observation, rather than a criticism. Cant remember the explanation, but Im sure there is one.

    matt



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