I love reading people bitching about the poor quality of espresso they get in coffee bars.

I went to one of the top coffee bars in NYC last week and the espresso I got was terrible. I'm no longer going to coffee bars because I can make better coffee at home.

Some simple logic here...

How did you determine that it was one of the "top coffee bars"? Logic would indicate that it might not be. The reality is that massive percentage of "top" coffee business (according to the interwebs) are total crap.

Every barista (no matter how good they are) pulls a crap shot now and then. Did you try a second shot? If not... logic would indicate you should have.

Just because you got a bad coffee (perhaps an anomaly or perhaps it's a bad coffee business) doesn't mean all coffee bars are bad. This isn't even a logic issue. It's a reason issue.

At the end of the day I can't help but wonder if you're going into coffee bars looking for an opportunity to validate your decision to spend thousands of dollars on coffee equipment for your home and/or get a nice ego stroke (rather than looking to learn about coffee).


Gwilym said...

Some times I serve a bad shot. I do not intend to, I do not want to, I try very hard not to but sometimes it just happens. Gwilym

jason dominy said...

I miss your blogposts.

chris said...

Gwilym... thanks a ton. If you can't do it all the time I think we can accept than no-one can.

Jason... aww.... thanks.

Andy Ciordia said...

If they are such a geek about it they should have had some open communication about it. It bothers me when reviewers use broad sweeping remarks to pin a large opinion to.

Good to see you post as well. It's been a while. :)

Unknown said...

Nice deconstruction, and some valid points! I probably wouldn't spend money on my own espresso equipment neither...what a hassle to operate, clean, and maintain! Espresso from a shop is expensive, but you don't have to DIY!!!

BillLee said...

I am in cafe rococo (kirkland, wa) and discussing coffee.
In the conversation; i mentioned for two decades, espresso was so bad, in a new cafe, i was comparing worst espressos (since expecting a reasonable cup had become depressing).
One day i went into a cafe in the back of a bookstore in the owen's valley and had one of those espresso so good it changed my life. Saw my first reg barber in the wild and had a great conversation with it's maker (told me a question to ask predicting espresso talent).
Hey, i bet i know that guy, you where in bishop?...
And now i am on your blog and guess you are the guy who made that espresso.
Thank you!

chris said...


That's a GREAT story! So cool.

It might have been me - but only if it was back 6-8 years ago or so. Otherwise it would have been someone I know - but not me. Do you remember when this occurred?


caffe d'bolla said...


So true.

Sometimes I'm sure the shot is wrong, and I redo it. And every once in a while the customer winces... and I redo it.

If it was perfect every time, there would be nothing left to learn. And coffee without learning would be boring.

... I know you've read plenty of web drivel out there, and logic is often an anathema to self-absorbed basement baristas.

Another big "Yea" vote here for you to post more.