company - education - coffee

Friday, June 08, 2007

Boston eXpresso


I have been thinking recently about how you don't see espresso that are meant to be enjoyed simply as espresso. A straight shot. Maybe a machiatto and maybe a traditional cappuccino.

You have a lot of either dark roasted or very earthy espresso that are designed to cut through milk leaving a less than desirable taste as a straight shot in most areas of the US.

Sure it's one of those things where business owners have to look at where the money is(big milk drinks), but I have always wondered about that. Seriously, the espresso out there is really quite wretched in most shops. Short of a complete revolution, how does that change?

I live in Cambridge and there are a handful of barista who can pour latte art at different shops. I can name on one hand the number of people who pull me consistently good shots, it's that small. Sure there is some latte art and fascination with the patterns, but truth is there are few really good shots to be had in this town.

This is where it gets weird though, at most every shop here in town you will get an espresso that brims over the top of the demitasse. It's not like these are small demis either, it's like trying to chug three and a half ounces of thin tasteless bilge water.

We call this the all too common Boston eXpresso.

Tosc's Expresso
I'm not sure this is an accident either. I typically hear:
A) It's to give you your money's worth by giving more volume(sure you get more volume but it tastes bad, so why bother) B) They think more volume will cut through the milk (a misconception as it simply doesn't) C) They were taught this by the roaster or were not trained at all by he roaster.

The part that bothers me it that it seems they are taught this way or are sold the coffee on some big up sell and then left to fend for themselves. It wouldn't be worth mention but there are some big time so called '3rd wave' roasters behind many of these local accounts that are paying top dollar to sell these coffees. Yet, I do not blame the cafes, I inclined to blame the roaster or companies who over hype their green quality, unrealistically romanticize the farmer, or simply talk about quality as if they are the absolute definition of the term. There are so many expectations that come with quality that I would think training should surely be one of them.

Then again, why pay for a great coffee if it falls flat on the cafe floor?

Really peaks your cynical nature doesn't it?