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Coffee Bar Etiquette
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gaillaustx
Senior Member


Joined: 4 Aug 2012
Posts: 4
Location: Austin, TX
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Ascaso Duo Pro
Grinder: Ascaso I-Steel
Posted Sat Aug 11, 2012, 5:11am
Subject: Coffee Bar Etiquette
 

What would you do if you are served nasty espresso?

So Im not sure I have ever had a good espresso, my best experience being $bucks. Im making my own at home, Im a super newbie.  All of my shots are drinkable to me. A couple of them have been very exciting, flavorful, and interesting; to me. But after lurking here for awhile, Im not trusting my own judgment.  

So I went online to find the best coffee shop here in town, and after filtering through the reviews I found one across town, in an old neighborhood, sort of hidden from the main tourist crowd. I hoped to have the experience of tasting a good shot of espresso.

I went over there this week, around 9:30, thinking most of the heavy morning traffic would be gone, but still early enough for the better barista to be on duty. I watched him pull the shot. The water poured right through the filter, black as sin, no crme. Im thinking this is not right, but what do I know. What I experienced with that cup was awful. So bitter there was no flavor, no hint of anything right about it. The nastiness hung in my mouth for the whole ride home, about 45 min.

And it was $3, plus $1 tip. Really? What would you have done?
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GVDub
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Joined: 25 Jan 2008
Posts: 845
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Londinium I, Arrarex...
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Drip: Behmor Brazen, Abid Clever
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Sat Aug 11, 2012, 6:52am
Subject: Re: Coffee Bar Etiquette
 

Depends. In most cases, I would leave the espresso on the counter, undrunk, and leave no tip. If it's not a rush, I might let them know that the shot was bad (maybe it's a fluke). If they care about quality, they'll make you another. If they don't, they won't and that place (or that barista if I've had good coffee from that place before) gets stricken from my little list.

Usually, in a new cafe,  I'll watch for a while before ordering an espresso to see how the barista works and if he's grinding fresh for each shot or working from a doser full of rapidly staling coffee. I'll see if he's pulling directly into cups for shots or pulling into a shot pitcher then pouring it into a cup from there. Sometimes I turn around and walk back out the door without ordering anything.

I try not to be that guy who attempts to tell the barista how to do his job. He's got whatever level of training his employer provides and advanced that in accordance with his personal levels of curiousity and  interest, and belief in doing a job to the best of his abilities.

BTW, the regional forums here are a good source of finding places to go. There's a thread on Austin here with several places to try.
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franky
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Joined: 31 Oct 2004
Posts: 177
Location: Franklin, MA
Expertise: I live coffee

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Posted Sat Aug 11, 2012, 8:16am
Subject: Re: Coffee Bar Etiquette
 

I would just not go back. You are not going to change them into suddenly caring. Even a very polite discussion would just lead to rolling of their eyes about the know it all stuck up customer. I think about 90% of the coffee shops are like this, so just get make your shots at home.
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emradguy
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emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,753
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, 2 Macap M4s, OE...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Sat Aug 11, 2012, 8:41am
Subject: Re: Coffee Bar Etiquette
 

^+1

I think if the barista cared enough to make a good shot he/shed know how to do it and wouldn't serve you a sink shot.  Best just tossing it and going somewhere else in the future.   Sadly, I've thrown away or left undrunk too many a shot to count (mostly from restaurants with good equipment but poorly trained staff).  I do try to watch the barista in action before ordering at a new place.  It really tells me if I want to risk wasting my money or not.  If they know what they're doing, I often strike up a conversation to let him/her know they're making the next one for an informed customer.  I've found I tend to get better drinks that way.

Last night I was at an Argentinian restaurant.  We had to sit at the bar to wait for our table. They had a 2 group commercial machine at the bar area.  I think it was a La Cimbali.  I couldn't see the grinder from across the bar, and didn't walk over to check it out.  I saw a bartender pull a cappa.  The machine sits on the end of the bar (a pretty high one) and there was a cart in front of it, so he had to reach out and up, almost full arm's length, to get to it.  Also, the lighting was bad, so I know he couldn't see the milk as it was frothing.  The sound I heard during frothing made me cringe. Oh, I almost forgot, I never heard the coffee grinder through the whole process.  After our meal, when the waiter asked if we wanted any coffee or espresso, my wife and I both politely declined.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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gaillaustx
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Joined: 4 Aug 2012
Posts: 4
Location: Austin, TX
Expertise: I love coffee

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Posted Sat Aug 11, 2012, 9:55am
Subject: Re: Coffee Bar Etiquette
 

Thank you for your input. I'll remember to watch first the next time. He did grind the beans fresh for my drink, but something went wrong. Also the cashier is not getting my tip BEFORE I get my drink.

And great link to the local forum, I'll try those places too. Restaurants etc. come and go here pretty quickly, but there are several mentioned that are still here. That's a good sign too, I'm thinking.

Unfortunately the place I went to is #1. It must have been a bad day. I may try again.
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GVDub
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Jan 2008
Posts: 845
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Londinium I, Arrarex...
Grinder: Gaggia MD85, Dienes Mokka,...
Drip: Behmor Brazen, Abid Clever
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Sun Aug 12, 2012, 3:50pm
Subject: Re: Coffee Bar Etiquette
 

All my food writer friends say never judge a place by just one visit. It could just be an off night. Of course you mention that in the final review (something like "although inconsistent, XXX can scale the heights of culinary goobledy-gook with their Pan-Asian/Hungarian fusion cuisine, etc...), you need to go back just to be sure.
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emradguy
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emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,753
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, 2 Macap M4s, OE...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Mon Aug 13, 2012, 8:24am
Subject: Re: Coffee Bar Etiquette
 

That's great advice, and exactly why I plan to revisit Drip next time I'm in Dallas (time permitting).

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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JonR10
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JonR10
Joined: 26 Apr 2004
Posts: 10,376
Location: Houston, Texas
Expertise: I love coffee

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Posted Mon Aug 13, 2012, 11:07am
Subject: Re: Coffee Bar Etiquette
 

gaillaustx Said:

Unfortunately the place I went to is #1. It must have been a bad day. I may try again.

Posted August 11, 2012 link

I've never gotten a decent espresso at Triannon.  Try cafe Medici (!!!), Once Over, or JP's.

 
Jon Rosenthal
Houston, TX
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grumpybarista
Senior Member
grumpybarista
Joined: 19 Feb 2007
Posts: 220
Location: Detroit
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: LP Pub1
Grinder: Mazzer Mini w/ doser, NS...
Vac Pot: Yama 5-cup
Drip: French Press, aeropress
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Mon Aug 13, 2012, 11:27am
Subject: Re: Coffee Bar Etiquette
 

JonR10 Said:

Try cafe Medici (!!!)

Posted August 13, 2012 link

I second Medici. There are three locations: The Drag, West Lynn, and downtown. I've been to the first two with great results. I prefer the Drag.

Good luck.

Phil
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,499
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Tue Aug 14, 2012, 7:45am
Subject: Re: Coffee Bar Etiquette
 

I can't offer a place to go but I can say that you should let the barista know that you are serious about coffee and are looking for the best that they can give. If you are still served dreck, walk on by and don't look back.

When I did a round robin tour of the best spots in Seattle, I told the baristas the above and they went WAY out of their way to make the best shot possible. I even had one toss about 4 doubles while making sure that the machine was perfect. The coffee from there was a bit more bright than I was expecting and while I was drinking my Cap in the store, she worked even harder on pulling the shots and offered me her BEST effort when I was leaving, and it was good!

I have had the other coffee many more times though and like others have said, leave it on the counter and walk away.

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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