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Thread: reasonable or snob

  1. #1
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    reasonable or snob

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    Hi All, *

    OK, I need some help... Im finding myself becoming more and more demanding of cafes - especially in regard to their milk frothing/handling techniques. If this keeps up, Ill end up black-banning all of my local coffee shops.

    Im a coffee snob at home and wouldnt dream of doing any of the below to my guests but am I asking too much of cafes to not (in perceived order of evilness):

    1. When frothing for a latte, placing the jug under the wand and sitting it unattended on the machine tray for the duration of the steaming (rather than altering the depth as the milk expands and monitoring the temperature)

    2. steaming milk and serving one customer and then for the next order, checking the quantity of milk left in the jug, and if sufficient, giving it a few seconds of steam to reheat it and then pouring.

    3. putting a jug of left over steamed milk in the fridge, and then resteaming it after its cooled.

    Am I being too demanding and unrealistic? Is it likely that my favourite baristas are doing similar techniques when safely hidden behind a tall counter?

  2. #2
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    Re: reasonable or snob

    I think you need to seriously think about drinking espressi.

    Too many things can go wrong re: milk.

  3. #3
    Senior Member fatboy_1999's Avatar
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    Re: reasonable or snob

    Hi cwmoore,

    We are all demanding and sometimes unrealistic - welcome to the club!

    1 - Depends. Some places do this and it works OK. Where I go, they often will do this (but DO put a thermometer in to monitor temp) and the quality is still good.

    2 - Yuck. The quick re-heating is the issue with me. I have seen places do a 2nd cup with the same jug after a 20 second gap. The milk is possibly still in the right area of temp, but the barista should be doing correct amounts for the current orders.

    3 - Thats walking out territory for me. Big no-no.

    Good (busy) baristas might have to make a few short cuts, but there are some things that the good ones will not compromise on.

    Things I look for when Im in a place for the first time (or a new barista):
    Fresh milk in the jug for each steam (not a top up), and no crusty stuff on the rim or outside.
    Wand gets a purge and a clean after every jug steamed.
    PF gets wiped after each puck knocked out
    Grinder hopper is not full of ground coffee unless they are very busy.

    It only takes a minute or two to see this in places where you have a view. If I dont have a view, I normally wont order from them.

    Just my opinion.

    Brett.

  4. #4
    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    Re: reasonable or snob

    #1 is ok if the barista knows their machine, I have seen some great microfoam made that way.

    #2 & #3... Im with Nunu and Fatboy, either order black or run away screaming like the milk just did!

    ;)


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    Re: reasonable or snob

    I wouldnt judge cafes like I used to now Ive worked at a busy one.
    I do number 1 and can get very good milk, good enough to pour art easily. Off 2 and 3 though.

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    Re: reasonable or snob

    I see those things happen all the time too,. never bothered me before, but as I learned more about making good coffee,. I watch more closely in cafes and get put off more easily with the habits of some coffee making folk (cos theyre not all baristas let me just say).

    No3,.no way. I can handle No1 & No2 but only when a cafe is busy and theyre making coffee one after the other. One place I often go, the woman who makes the coffee does No1 and moves to the next machine and does the same,.she works on two group 3 machines and goes back and forth between both. I was put off at first, seeing this, but her foam was awesome. She obviously has found the perfect way to prop up the jugs because it works well. She also does No2 and again I thought ack!..but when I watched her for longer,. she did it only while there was a line of people waiting for coffee, ie..one coffee straight after the other.

    If I were to walk into a cafe and was the only one to order, I would hate to see these things occur however. 8-)


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    Re: reasonable or snob

    Can I ask for a clarification of no.3 please? I read somewhere, years ago, cant remember where, that it was ok to do this as long as you topped up with at least 2/3rds fresh milk. So 1/3 reheated, to 2/3rds fresh. Whats your thoughts on this practice?

    Or perhaps I misread and they meant 1/3rd still hot from previous steaming to 2/3rds fresh cold milk???

  8. #8
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    Re: reasonable or snob

    Theres a quick solution to nos 1,2 & 3 - Double espresso. Thats how I solve it. haha... ;) Sorry that wasnt very helpful; just couldnt help myself. If I noticed 2&3 going on, it does give note on what their other practices may be like.

    While on the idea of baristi practices; do you mind when a barista scoops up the leftover grinds in the tray(under the pf holder), or worse- the bench, to put them back into the doser (or straight into the pf) to make your coffee? I dont think its as bad as the milk thing, but I hate seeing it when its my coffee.

    Yeeza

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    Re: reasonable or snob

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill link=1201602645/0#6 date=1201661860
    Can I ask for a clarification of no.3 please? I read somewhere, years ago, cant remember where, that it was ok to do this as long as you topped up with at least 2/3rds fresh milk. So 1/3 reheated, to 2/3rds fresh. Whats your thoughts on this practice?

    Or perhaps I misread and they meant 1/3rd still hot from previous steaming to 2/3rds fresh cold milk???
    Ive had people tell me its ok to use 1/3 recycled to 2/3 fresh over the years but mainly for cafes to cut down on wastage, personally i just train people to do the right amount of milk.
    #1 is a technique i use all day every day, it allows you to get through the customers alot quicker and use two machines at once. its all about finding the magic angle, as you aerate milk it expands putting the nozzle of the steamer below the surface of the milk they trick is to have it angled so that it doesnt aerate too much or too little before this happens.
    as for 2# and #3: wouldnt dream of it!

  10. #10
    Senior Member fatboy_1999's Avatar
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    Re: reasonable or snob

    I dont mind excess coffee going back into the doser if:
    A - They are not just keeping a full chamber of ground coffee.
    B - It is just from levelling the PF.

    If it has hit the dregs tray (so named for a reason) or the bench, then I dont want to see it back in the doser.

  11. #11
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    Re: reasonable or snob

    Quote Originally Posted by nunu link=1201602645/0#1 date=1201603814
    I think you need to seriously think about drinking espressi.

    Too many things can go wrong re: milk.
    I know a lot of people who subscribe to the "milk covers over a multitude of sins" school of thought. I dont.

    Im inclined to think that if a place cant get milk right, the chances are the espresso will suck too.

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    Re: reasonable or snob


    I know a lot of people who subscribe to the "milk covers over a multitude of sins" school of thought. I dont.

    Im inclined to think that if a place cant get milk right, the chances are the espresso will suck too.[/QUOTE]

    Id have to agree with you there Michelle. If I go into a cafe you should be able to expect that its gonna be good practices all round.
    One thing though, Im glad no one is judging me on my ability to pull a shot from my ability (or lack thereof) to do milk. Being an espresso drinker Im a bit delayed on the milk front. My appreciation is slowly getting there though.

    YeeZa

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    Re: reasonable or snob

    Its also a case of I dont like the taste of coffee with milk. The furthest I would probably go is a doppio piccolo latte.

    Milk is a big worry. Most places surely heat the milk above 70C, but even places that heat the milk around 65C or less, yet recycle the milk can still give your tummy a nasty surprise.

    Food safety applies to baristi as well.

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    Re: reasonable or snob

    Quote Originally Posted by cwmoore link=1201602645/0#0 date=1201602645
    Hi All,

    OK, I need some help... Im finding myself becoming more and more demanding of cafes - especially in regard to their milk frothing/handling techniques. If this keeps up, Ill end up black-banning all of my local coffee shops.

    Im a coffee snob at home and wouldnt dream of doing any of the below to my guests but am I asking too much of cafes to not (in perceived order of evilness):

    1. When frothing for a latte, placing the jug under the wand and sitting it unattended on the machine tray for the duration of the steaming (rather than altering the depth as the milk expands and monitoring the temperature)

    2. steaming milk and serving one customer and then for the next order, checking the quantity of milk left in the jug, and if sufficient, giving it a few seconds of steam to reheat it and then pouring.

    3. putting a jug of left over steamed milk in the fridge, and then resteaming it after its cooled.

    Am I being too demanding and unrealistic? Is it likely that my favourite baristas are doing similar techniques when safely hidden behind a tall counter?
    Hi There,

    Ill just touch briefly on the points you have. Firstly, I will just say that I work in a busy espresso bar in the morning. From the time I roll the doors open at 8am until 11.30am to 12pm I do not get a chance to get off the machine. Im finding Im getting busier and busier everyday. This is quite good considered Im located in a Zone 1 industrial area....lots of white and blue collar and that I only serve coffee....no food to be had as it is not a cafe. More volume means I need to often streamline my work flow or find faster ways to do things so that I work as efficiently as possible without sacrificing quality.

    So here we go...my thoughts on your points you raised.

    #1 - I must confess, I do this. Only on a 1L jug. I know my machine well...how fast it heats milk and how to get perfect microfoam using this method. I prop my jug up on a 8oz take away cup or a 300mL jug. If I overheat the milk I simply restart. No point in pushing out bad coffee - even if I have a big line...its only an extra minute and a few cents of milk. People are willing to wait within reason. With the time I buy myself by letting the milk steam itself, I can take money from customers, take more orders or load up another handle and brew a shot.

    #2 - I never reheat milk....ever. If Im extremely busy and by myself and have run out of jugs (I have 3x 300mL jugs, 6x 600mL jugs and 5x 1L jugs) I simply tip whatever is remaining in the sink, quick rinse at tap and load fresh milk up for the next lot of orders. When I get my lull, I throw everything in the dishwasher.

    #3 - Again is simply a no-no. Not to condemn those who do it. They have simply never been properly trained in making coffee.

    I have no tall counter to hide behind. Only a few glass jars of tea which hide away 14 milk jugs, take away lids, saucers and spoons. This is the side I take orders, steam milk and serve on.

    So in summary, in my opinion, I think number 1 is okay. Number 2 and 3 are big no-nos, no matter how busy you are - there should always be fresh jugs and fresh milk. When you make coffee long enough, you figure out how much milk you need...to the last drop!

    Cheers,

    David

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    Re: reasonable or snob

    Quote Originally Posted by fatboy link=1201602645/0#9 date=1201667165
    I dont mind excess coffee going back into the doser if:
    A - They are not just keeping a full chamber of ground coffee.
    B - It is just from levelling the PF.

    If it has hit the dregs tray (so named for a reason) or the bench, then I dont want to see it back in the doser.

    The mind just boggles. I know people who put espresso coffee that has been on the grounds tray back in to the doser. :-[ :o

  16. #16
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: reasonable or snob

    Those few weeks last year when I worked in a shop with a commercial machine I had to do things I wouldnt do if I were in charge.

    However, the boss wanted it done his way and he was paying the wages.

    So, 1 he never did so neither did I have to (it was never really busy anyway).

    2 sometimes happened but less often the longer I was there.
    My problem at the beginning was that they had no small jugs so it took some getting used to on my part to try make one coffee with a 1 litre jug.

    3 see 2.

    I spoke to Hazel about it at the time and she said shed been forced to compromise on occasion too when she was working for someone else.

    Reality check guys - as an employee you have 2 choices.
    The boss way or find another boss.

    As a customer though, I too look for another place.

  17. #17
    mwatt
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    Re: reasonable or snob

    Quote Originally Posted by Thundergod link=1201602645/15#15 date=1201695499
    Reality check guys - as an employee you have 2 choices.
    The boss way or find another boss.

    As a customer though, I too look for another place.
    And if more customers do that, then maybe eventually the boss will get the hint, no?

  18. #18
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    Re: reasonable or snob

    Its always frustrating when you end up working for some one with little to no coffee knowledge that wants you to do things their way. A freind of mine at the moment works for a guy that wont let him flush the group heads or backflush regularly because hes worried about having to replace his seals to often!!!

  19. #19
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    Re: reasonable or snob

    I think the owner has more to worry about than just a part worth a few bucks...

  20. #20
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    Re: reasonable or snob

    yep

  21. #21
    Senior Member greenman's Avatar
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    Re: reasonable or snob

    I only have a coffee at cafes that I know produce a quality product, if in doublt I have an OJ or a black tea and wait until I get home for a decent java.
    At Epic in West Perth they have 600ml jugs and use a fresh jug for every drink produced from their Synesso.

  22. #22
    fabab
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    Re: reasonable or snob

    Quote Originally Posted by cwmoore link=1201602645/0#0 date=1201602645
    Hi All,

    OK, I need some help... Im finding myself becoming more and more demanding of cafes - especially in regard to their milk frothing/handling techniques. If this keeps up, Ill end up black-banning all of my local coffee shops.

    Im a coffee snob at home and wouldnt dream of doing any of the below to my guests but am I asking too much of cafes to not (in perceived order of evilness):

    1. When frothing for a latte, placing the jug under the wand and sitting it unattended on the machine tray for the duration of the steaming (rather than altering the depth as the milk expands and monitoring the temperature)

    2. steaming milk and serving one customer and then for the next order, checking the quantity of milk left in the jug, and if sufficient, giving it a few seconds of steam to reheat it and then pouring.

    3. putting a jug of left over steamed milk in the fridge, and then resteaming it after its cooled.

    Am I being too demanding and unrealistic? Is it likely that my favourite baristas are doing similar techniques when safely hidden behind a tall counter?
    Dont worry, you are not being unrealistic, I am exactly the same!

    1# There are times when I wont literally get off the machine for hours at a time, but I see no sense in leaving the milk to chance. Shot first, then milk. I use a small jug so I usually do 2-3 coffees at a time and then Im onto the next lot. The small jug heats the milk quicker and smoother which means my shot wont go stale or lose its crema, which also means I can get the coffees out quicker.

    2 and 3# I never ever reuse milk. I once worked in a cafe who would reuse soy milk over and over again. They wouldnt let me make coffee in their cafe (I knew what I was doing see, I wasnt a spoon user! I had a laugh), anyway I counted that they reused soy milk 5 times on my shift!!!!!! I resigned. ;D Also, good coffee connoisseur can tell if you have reused milk. Reused milk gives the coffee a heavy burnt taste (like when you heat milk on a stove and burn it so much you end up with a saucepan full of "skim") , and the coffee is usually half filled with froth! I had a laugh

    You are not alone, I have slowly blacklisted myself from cafe after cafe...glad to know Im moving soon! A whole new zone, yay!

  23. #23
    Senior Member greenman's Avatar
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    Re: reasonable or snob

    I had afternoon tea with my mum today, she had a capo which she would have been happy with, but I thought I would order a double espresso, cant make too much of a mess of it?? When it arrived at the table it was in a 180ml capo cup which was half full, even as a long black it had no grunt and the crema or lack of it was insipid, will I never learn not to slum it at these establishments.
    One the upside the cake was wonderful so it wasnt all bad............

  24. #24
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    Re: reasonable or snob

    businesses will cut corners to keep cost minimal...this isnt a great thing but some stores cant afford huge losses to waste...

    find a store thats all about "every" aspect of the coffee and quality of this drop...
    youre not cynical...youre not a coffee snob either(unless I am too)

    Generally roasters with an espresso bar are reliable.

    If they are good baristas they wont be doing those three things

    or reusing grounds for that matter...I guess it can be said that the owner is protecting whats in his wallet rather than having best interest in whats putting the money in there in the first place (customers and regulars/return customers)

  25. #25
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    Re: reasonable or snob

    I took my grandkids to one of those playhouse type setups they have these days with onsite cafe for the adults.

    When I made enquiries about prices etc they told me about the cafe and the great coffee they serve.

    When I arrived I was dying for a caffeine fix so went to order some lattes.

    Well, I took one look at the steam wand and nearly went for a Gordon Ramsey spit.

    Half the steam wand was coated in a thick brown scale or burnt milk buildup etc. On asking how often they cleaned the wand I was told after every coffee. I guess that means a superficial wipe with a rag.

    When I asked if they intended to clean the brown muck off the wand I was informed that if I didnt like it I could leave, I didnt and so I did.

  26. #26
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: reasonable or snob

    All that corner cutting is "false economy".

    Quality attracts more, and repeat customers.

    I was invited to dinner tonight at a Japanese restaurant to which Id never been before.
    When I got there 5 minutes after the agreed time, the husband of the girl whod organised it was there, but she was running later than myself.
    My wife had been out with her, so he and I both had to wait for them, but it didnt matter, because they were so busy hed been given a ticket to wait for a table.

    When the girls eventually turned up we still had a few minutes wait before we were finally seated.

    Long story short, the food was absolutely excellent!
    No wonder people were lining up and waiting at least 20 minutes to be seated.

    A few doors down was a Korean restaurant that had been empty as I made my way to dinner.
    It had one occupied table as I made my way home.

    I dont know why the Korean place was empty but I do know why the Japanese one was full.

  27. #27
    Senior Member redzone121's Avatar
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    Re: reasonable or snob

    I vote more CS ers to own and/or work in Cafes please !!

  28. #28
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    Re: reasonable or snob

    Hi,

    where is this place you are talking, I like to go there for a try.

    summercrema


    Quote Originally Posted by Remy link=1201602645/0#5 date=1201660270
    I see those things happen all the time too,. never bothered me before, but as I learned more about making good coffee,. I watch more closely in cafes and get put off more easily with the habits of some coffee making folk (cos theyre not all baristas let me just say).

    No3,.no way. *I can handle No1 & No2 but only when a cafe is busy and theyre making coffee one after the other. One place I often go, the woman who makes the coffee does No1 and moves to the next machine and does the same,.she works on two group 3 machines and goes back and forth between both. I was put off at first, seeing this, but her foam was awesome. She obviously has found the perfect way to prop up the jugs because it works well. She also does No2 and again I thought ack!..but when I watched her for longer,. she did it only while there was a line of people waiting for coffee, ie..one coffee straight after the other.

    If I were to walk into a cafe and was the only one to order, I would hate to see these things occur however. *8-)

  29. #29
    Senior Member benandfaith's Avatar
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    Re: reasonable or snob

    Quote Originally Posted by Thundergod link=1201602645/15#25 date=1209900707
    All that corner cutting is "false economy".

    Quality attracts more, and repeat customers.

    I was invited to dinner tonight at a Japanese restaurant to which Id never been before.
    When I got there 5 minutes after the agreed time, the husband of the girl whod organised it was there, but she was running later than myself.
    My wife had been out with her, so he and I both had to wait for them, but it didnt matter, because they were so busy hed been given a ticket to wait for a table.

    When the girls eventually turned up we still had a few minutes wait before we were finally seated.

    Long story short, the food was absolutely excellent!
    No wonder people were lining up and waiting at least 20 minutes to be seated.

    A few doors down was a Korean restaurant that had been empty as I made my way to dinner.
    It had one occupied table as I made my way home.

    I dont know why the Korean place was empty but I do know why the Japanese one was full.
    Was it Makoto (on Liverpool St I think) in Sydney CBD? If it was, Ive personally waited 45mins to get into that place! And all the while, theres a Korean place a little down the road and a Japanese sushi bar across the road that had plenty of space to spare...

    Alas, theres plenty of sub-standard restaraunts/cafes in Sydney - poor food, poor service... *sigh*

  30. #30
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    Re: reasonable or snob

    Quote Originally Posted by summercrema link=1201602645/15#27 date=1210724245
    Hi,

    where is this place you are talking, I like to go there for a try.

    summercrema


    Quote Originally Posted by Remy link=1201602645/0#5 date=1201660270
    I see those things happen all the time too,. never bothered me before, but as I learned more about making good coffee,. I watch more closely in cafes and get put off more easily with the habits of some coffee making folk (cos theyre not all baristas let me just say).

    No3,.no way. *I can handle No1 & No2 but only when a cafe is busy and theyre making coffee one after the other. One place I often go, the woman who makes the coffee does No1 and moves to the next machine and does the same,.she works on two group 3 machines and goes back and forth between both. I was put off at first, seeing this, but her foam was awesome. She obviously has found the perfect way to prop up the jugs because it works well. She also does No2 and again I thought ack!..but when I watched her for longer,. she did it only while there was a line of people waiting for coffee, ie..one coffee straight after the other.

    If I were to walk into a cafe and was the only one to order, I would hate to see these things occur however. *8-)
    This place WAS in Westfield Woden (Woden Plaza),..the only coffee shop right in the middle of the food court (island type -you could walk right around it). *Its funny,.. soon after writing that post youve quoted, we noticed the woman I was referring to wasnt there one day and instead two quite young and inexperienced young girls there. We thought maybe she was on holidays or sold the business (shes been there for as long as I can remember) and we bought coffee there twice more but were really disappointed so never went back there again and in passing,..I never saw her again there either.

    About 4 weeks ago (possibly even 5 or 6) we went there and the whole island coffee shop fittings had gone completely. *Boards around the area with signs that look like new coffee shop might be built in its place. *So it will be interesting to see what happens there.

  31. #31
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    Re: reasonable or snob

    I always find myself looking at the steam wand, is it clean or covered in milk. Whilst not an exact assurance of quality (either way), its a small indicator.

    One thing I dont understand, is the whole cleaning of the jugs between shots. Can I assume (that with the multiple jugs on hand) that you use 1 jug for an order, put it aside (or if time permits, rinse / clean it), use another for another order and so on?

    The local muffin break I used to get coffee from does sit the jug on the machine (with thermometer), they do top up jugs of milk, but they do clean the wand each and every time.

    Sen



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