What makes a good coffee?
It’s made with love. If the cafe staff make coffee by just pushing a button on the machine, then there’s no love. A great barista cares about each coffee they make, one cup at a time.
After love, there are three main elements
- the right grind
- the quality of the espresso shot – the best shots are naturally sweet
- the texturising of the milk
What to order
To make comparisons I usually order a latte in Australia, as this is generally one shot, small glass with texturised milk. If I want less milk I order a piccolo, which should be made on a ristretto shot.
When I am overseas I have worked out the different rules. The cafe culture is changing and great places with attention to the quality of the product are emerging. It’s all about what you ask for:
- UK: A latte is a terribly weak milky coffee made in an oversized glass. Some cafes are now offering ‘flat white’ which is more like the Australian latte
- Europe: The cafe culture is changing. The terminology differs. Sometimes a Cortado will get me a combination latte-piccolo. But generally I point to the cup size and ask them to make to order.
When I have some spare time in a city I find that hunting out a great cafe is a fun way to explore the city.
There are a few ways. I like to use Beanhunter – but am wary of friends of a cafe bumping up the reviews. When I sort on ‘near me’ I usually look at the number of reviews, rather than just top rated.
Londons Best Coffee app is great for London, and there are surprisingly a wide range of cafes available.
Other than that, I google – barista, espresso, cafe, <city name>
An interesting coffee find?
I was in Vienna, and despite the reputation of the Viennese Coffee House, it wasn’t easy to find a cafe of the more 21stC style. So I googled, and found Caffe Couture about 2km from where I was staying on a spare afternoon. The barista had been a semi-finalist in the championships held in Vienna that year, and it was a great coffee. When went to pay the barista told me that they have no prices, people pay what they think the coffee is worth. It was my first coffee in Vienna. I sure hope €4 was acceptable.