Good Times, Great Food, Repugnant Coffee

Well, I had a great day today. The little league team that I manage had finally won our first game! (They really played their hearts out.) Afterwards, my nieces came over and we (Me, my two kids and my two nieces.) saw another ball game. A great fun filled day was had at the ball field. Afterwards, we all went out to dinner, my wife, myself, my two sons, my two nieces and my parents. It was a great dinning experience, a pleasurable time was had by one and all. We patronized an authentic Italian pizzeria. I lived in Italy for a few years and I got to know this special type of pizza quite well. (It's the type of pizza that has a very thin crust and is served on a plate. You eat it with an knife and fork. It’s great!) The owner of the establishment is from Italy. He had this special wood burning pizza oven shipped over from Italy and built. He even imports the flour from Italy. A lot of blood sweat and tears went into this endeavor, and it shows. The ambiance was great, real lively a bit noisy, but the good “happy” kind of noisy. There were all kinds of people there and a lot of Italian being spoken. Anyway the vibe was fantastic, the salads were good, the wine was great, and the pizza was to die for. In short, everything was superb. We are all laughing, talking, joking, just having a good time in general. I was starting to feel like I was back in Italy. Then I made “The Mistake” I ordered an espresso... I assumed that since everything was “Italian”, (and so far everything was great, it really made me nostalgic for the "Old Country".) I thought that I should go for it and order an espresso, as I would in Italy. But Noooo! It was perhaps the worst espresso I ever had the displeasure of tasting in my entire life. It was a nasty, gnarly, repugnant swill. Jesus, talk about a buzz kill. This is a problem that happens more than I care to think about... You go to a fine restaurant, have a great time, pay good money, then at the end of the meal you order a coffee or cappuccino or espresso, only to have it suck out loud. It's very disappointing so say the least. When will the restauranteurs “get it”? They take so much pride in their food, in their chef, in their wine, their ambiance, their menus, hell, even their little paintings on the wall, but when it comes to the coffee it’s usually the untrained dishwasher or busboy who makes the coffee/cappuccino/espresso. This is the last thing we consume, the last thing we taste before we leave their establishment. When its mediocre it just lowers the dining experience a few notches, but when you drink nasty, gnarly, repugnant, sour, bitter, swill... Forget about it! It destroys the whole dining experience for me. It just pisses me off to no end! I have that “fucked up” taste in my mouth while I’m paying the bill, as I’m driving home and even an hour after I’ve been home. Not cool! This is very dispiriting and we have to put a stop to this!!! I had better stop right now before I really get going, It can get ugly. I’ll just leave it at that. Thanks and good night. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I am in the “Coffee Business” my name is Barney and I am the owner/roastmeister of Pacifico Primo Coffee Trading Co. and thats why I am so... pedantic about coffee. It’s my passion.)

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Comment by Stickman on January 9, 2008 at 7:58pm
I totally agree, you guys. There are these great restaurants - the equivelant of a third wave cafe - and everything is above average except the coffee. A meal for $120 per person, plus wine and they make a cappuccino on a Starbucks Barista machine! You'd think they'd drop a few bucks on a better machine and some quality beans or maybe hook up with a local cafe and get some training. How can we get this message qacross to the 'foodies'?

Keep the faith!
Comment by Steve Lanphier on January 9, 2008 at 3:46pm
I couldn't agree more, I'm a former chef turned coffee roaster and now importer but I rarly get coffee at a restaurant anymore-especially not espresso..I know it's going to be ugly and brutal (unless I know the hand on the machine) and I love a good pressed or filtered or Clovered coffee and most places brew at 1/2 strength at best leaving us with an insipid "caffeine delivery system" instead of a flavorful cup of coffee...don't get me started.
The problem is that most chefs have to absorb the coffee costs into their food budget which are razor thin at best and if they aren't passionate about coffee then they are going to get by as cheaply as possible. What they have to be shown is that every 1.00 per pound only equals out to 2-3 cents per cup, that and the fact that customers DO place a value on getting a good-tasting cup of coffee with their meal and actually count that into their decision making process when choosing where to go. As a former chef, caterer, General Mgr for over 20 yeras I heard this from customers many times when I worked for a place that cared about serving good coffee.
Cheers!

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