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Date: 27 Dec 2006 20:13:53
From: gscace
Subject: Very interesting article on coffeegeek
http://www.coffeegeek.com/opinions/georgesabados/12-19-2006

I fear that it is true, unfortunately.

-Greg





 
Date: 30 Dec 2006 01:10:41
From: Jasonian
Subject: Re: Very interesting article on coffeegeek
I would be lying if I were to say that I did not find Donn's post
insulting on more than one level.

Not only was I insulted as a barista, but also as a discerning
customer.

I know a lot of shop-owners who think like you do, and the products
they put out are consistently some of the worst I have ever had.

"R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Find out what it means to me!"



  
Date: 31 Dec 2006 18:35:02
From: Donn Cave
Subject: Re: Very interesting article on coffeegeek
Quoth "Jasonian" <jason.haeger@gmail.com >:


  
Date: 30 Dec 2006 22:26:44
From: MartinA
Subject: Re: Very interesting article on coffeegeek
Hi Jason (-Ian?),

as a newbie (hi all) on this list and someone who has placed some,
hopefully not to cheeky, comments in this thread, a couple of comments
if I may.

I can well understand your reaction. As you say the whole issue of
quality coffee takes place on many levels. Customer taste and
expectancy, quality of craftsmanship, business interests, etc. You
happen to be someone who appreciates quality craftsmanship. I would
argue in real life situations when customer meets coffee, some sort of
compromise results. A great coffee experience is where coffee and
ambience are just the right combination.

For my part I am priily a consumer who enjoys great coffee.
Preferably Turkish with a bit of milk. And to really scare everybody -
goats milk. British cow's milk has a flavour that reminds me of dung far
too much...

In a previous post I said there's a pub with a reasonable coffee (on a
self serve machine that does only something like café creme) and a good
ambience. For me that works. Yes, I would appreciate a better coffee. Be
it cappuccino, late or espresso any of which I enjoy. But the unpleasant
environment, in my subjective preference, and lack of craftsmanship
often let me steer away from café.

Bringing in a pro barista would help make a better coffee. Though not
change the ambience. Do customers care? Some do, some don't. I have no
idea about percentages. Does the espresso in an iced drink sweetened
with a triple caramel matter? Where is the place for a quality espresso?
For me, of somewhat older age, not in a buzzing caf'.

If you have a café buzzing with 15-25 year olds, Saturday shoppers, etc.
what business decision do you make? Take a look at the more laid back
place around the corner that's near empty but does a great coffee.
They've just bought a licence to sell drinks to get by. I'd put in a
super-auto and a couple of students on minimum wage who are just as
funky as the guests. They'd all be happy with each other.

I am sure in other towns where the selection of customers is better than
in my little one. But for a place to require a well capable barista it
must have the customer potential. Customers who not only want the
quality coffee but can also tell the difference. Unless we are talking
seriously posh places where money is no matter. Only then is it possible
to pay a somewhat reasonable salary to a pro. Money isn't everything,
but it sure factors.

When the art and trade of typesetting in lead died everyone screamed and
saw the downfall of quality print. Guess, there are a few more typos
nowadays even in the major papers. And gram in small magazines can be
appalling - and I am not good.

I'm not a barista - but in general like my homebrew. Of course I am
looking for improvements - that's why I'm here.

Cherio,
tin


Jasonian wrote:
> I would be lying if I were to say that I did not find Donn's post
> insulting on more than one level.
>
> Not only was I insulted as a barista, but also as a discerning
> customer.
>
> I know a lot of shop-owners who think like you do, and the products
> they put out are consistently some of the worst I have ever had.
>
> "R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Find out what it means to me!"
>


 
Date: 30 Dec 2006 06:12:03
From: Donn Cave
Subject: Re: Very interesting article on coffeegeek
It's plausible that a brew+froth machine could replace baristas. Who cares?

It isn't a career type job, you aren't going to see old baristas getting
thrown out of their homes because they've been dismissed from their cafes
and can't find any other work.

It isn't a service any of us depend on. We have been ill served at the
hands of these baristas and avoid them whenever possible, true?

It isn't going to get any better anyway. Approximately 0% of consumers
care what the espresso tastes like, as long as it's properly masked by
the milk in their drink, so there's no real reason for espresso to get
better, whoever actually makes it.

The exceptions - the Espresso Vivaces etc. - will survive as exceptions
for the very reason that they aren't just a reflection of the ket
majority, so the trends driven by that ket are irrelevant.

For another perspective -- we dined recently at an Italian restaurant
that's fairly new in the neighborhood, and like the Neapolitan pizza place
5 blocks south of them, they serve a tiny ristretto after dinner (if you
order one, of course.) Quality is pretty fair, I wasn't hurting. Both
of these places use an ornate two or three group lever machine, don't
know what brand but the usual Astoria type levers, operated in full view
of the dining area, I believe by the bartender though I haven't always
seen it.

Since these espressos aren't diluted with milk, customers have to taste
the espresso and are likely to respond to quality differences. I have
read the stories here about atrocious restaurant espressos, but I'm here
to tell you that it doesn't have to be that way, and by what I'm seeing,
isn't that way around here. And if so, over time maybe Americans will
acquire a taste for espresso. Baristas included.

Donn


 
Date: 28 Dec 2006 19:23:16
From: Danny
Subject: Re: Very interesting article on coffeegeek
gscace wrote:
> http://www.coffeegeek.com/opinions/georgesabados/12-19-2006
>
> I fear that it is true, unfortunately.
>
> -Greg
>

Three outlets in my area use superautos. Every one of them says
"cleaning required" whenever I glance at the control panels, and have
done for many months :(

--
Regards, Danny

http://www.gaggia-espresso.com (a purely hobby site)
http://www.malabargold.co.uk (UK/EU ordering for Malabar Gold blend)



  
Date: 28 Dec 2006 20:58:08
From: MartinA
Subject: Re: Very interesting article on coffeegeek
Things don't change do they?

When I read the article, it made me think of the local Charucks (Wales,
uk) (and many others) with funky hip new agey setup: Nasty tasting
coffee because the machine is not cleaned.... Never mind other
mishandling in the creation of a drink.

And then there are tables littered with empty cups, food leftovers,
spills, etc. Never mind the noise because of the hard acoustic design of
the whole store. Unpleasant coffee in an unpleasant atmosphere....

A pub nearby does a pretty good coffee for half the price. Coming out of
some small fully automatic maker. Not superb but good solid standard and
well maintained. Free refills too. And comfy environment.

So until they bring out a machine that cleans itself and the cafe while
it's at it...

Possibly a reason behind this as an ex-charucks employee said -
chronically understaffed and on minimum wage. Is it any surprise that
when there's little going on everyone takes a rest rather than polish up
the place? Mind you the place is a busy as can be!!

It's worthwhile reading the other articles the same chap (George
Sabados) wrote up to give the issue some more context.

http://www.coffeegeek.com/opinions/georgesabados/05-03-2004
http://www.coffeegeek.com/opinions/georgesabados/02-06-2006

cheers,
tin

Danny wrote:
> gscace wrote:
>> http://www.coffeegeek.com/opinions/georgesabados/12-19-2006
>>
>> I fear that it is true, unfortunately.
>>
>> -Greg
>>
>
> Three outlets in my area use superautos. Every one of them says
> "cleaning required" whenever I glance at the control panels, and have
> done for many months :(
>


 
Date: 28 Dec 2006 07:22:41
From: Omniryx@gmail.com
Subject: Re: Very interesting article on coffeegeek
Having had a favorite great ahntee who was a theatre pianist/organist,
I appreciated the comparison. Aunt Sara always said that even when she
first entered the business (right out of a conservatory in the middle
of the depression) she realized that she was a white elephant in
formation. Many of the established players, however, insisted that
their jobs would be secure forever. Listening to her accompany
cartoons and soaps on the TV (with the sound down, of course) I
certainly appreciated a skill at least the equivalent of a highly
trained barista.

I think we once again have to remind ourselves that we are outliers who
persist in the quest for a standard of quality that most coffee
drinkers can't/don't/won't appreciate. Alas, neither we nor the
baristi will define the future for commercial coffee. While I confess
to an occasional indulgence in a Star*uck's sweet milk drink on a
blistering summer afternoon when I've missed my lunch, I rarely subject
myself to their espresso. I have, however, been socially trapped into
drinking enough of it to realize that the shops that are equipped with
the newer SuperAs make better, more consistent cups than those using
the older conventional machines--given that those machines are usually
run by gum-smacking teenagers with an ear out for the cellphone and
only a casual interest in the work at hand. Who knows what they might
produce if they used real coffee instead of granulated charcoal
briquettes.

I hope and pray that temples of coffee will always exist, just as
artisan vintners and distillers will always exist. Places where
dedicated and skilled women and men will continue to push the envelope.
For the mainstream, though, I suspect that the continuing evolution of
SuperAs may, indeed, k the end of the barista's dominance of the
commercial coffee culture.



shane wrote:
> I can see this becoming a trend also. 3 or 4 years ago the Starbucks
> cafe inside the Barnes and Noble here added a superauto. I noticed
> that the espresso was actually consistently drinkable. Not having to
> train or worry about inattentive PBTCs would keep things consistient.
>
> Bigger fear, what would this do to the world of prosumer equipment?
> Will machine makers still make old fashioned manual machines?
>
> Shane
>
>
> bernie wrote:
> > gscace wrote:
> >
> > > http://www.coffeegeek.com/opinions/georgesabados/12-19-2006
> > >
> > > I fear that it is true, unfortunately.
> > >
> > > -Greg
> > >
> >
> > yep. the balance between the number of bad shots being served by
> > inattentive pbtcs and a slightly lower quality being consistently served
> > is quickly being tipped in favor of the superauto. I feel myself being
> > sucked into that black hole. And I still think I have the best staff in
> > the state.
> > Bernie



 
Date: 28 Dec 2006 07:14:46
From: James Hoffmann
Subject: Re: Very interesting article on coffeegeek
It is an interesting article, and I think that technology will always
make achieving 75% quality easier and easier. There are steam wands on
the ket attached to traditional espresso machines that allow you to
dip the wand under the milk, push a button and it does the rest. The
wand adds a certain amount of air and a probe cuts the milk of at a
desired temperature. Cimbali have had one around for ages, La Spaziale
have one and I am sure others do too. The quality of the microfoam is
surprisingly good. Yet I don't feel like my position as a trained
barista is under threat. At the moment it is too rigid - you don't
have enough specific control over texture or temperature and the
machine can't adapt to that difficult customer.

Anyway - most superautos can be coerced into producing decent enough
espresso. Usually you have to use a lot of coffee per shot, but in a
milk drink (which is how most commodity espresso is drunk) it is pretty
good. Couple that with a wand that does most of the hard work and you
have a very drinkable capp, nice temp, nice texture.

However I think that those who post online as baristas, who care about
coffee and are interested in acquiring a skill will be around for a
long time. The baristas that will disappear are the ones for whom it
is a fill-in job, who are those just pushing buttons, often in large
chains.

I firmly believe that truly excellent espresso requires constant
adaptation in its brewing, and I am sure we will embrace technology
more and more (PID, pressure profiling etc..) to get what we want and
to try and serve something special.



  
Date: 28 Dec 2006 20:38:39
From: Barry Jarrett
Subject: Re: Very interesting article on coffeegeek
On 28 Dec 2006 07:14:46 -0800, "James Hoffmann" <kingseven@gmail.com >
wrote:

>surprisingly good. Yet I don't feel like my position as a trained
>barista is under threat. At the moment it is too rigid - you don't
>have enough specific control over texture or temperature and the
>machine can't adapt to that difficult customer.
>

...and people would never want to pump their own petrol, either.


--barry "former pump jockey"


   
Date: 28 Dec 2006 21:10:53
From: MartinA
Subject: Re: Very interesting article on coffeegeek
Pumping petrol??? Pumping coffee!!!

Forgot to mention that the well maintained fully automatic coffee
machine in that pub is customer operated. They just give you a cup.

tin

Barry Jarrett wrote:
> On 28 Dec 2006 07:14:46 -0800, "James Hoffmann" <kingseven@gmail.com>
> wrote:
>
> >surprisingly good. Yet I don't feel like my position as a trained
> >barista is under threat. At the moment it is too rigid - you don't
> >have enough specific control over texture or temperature and the
> >machine can't adapt to that difficult customer.
> >
>
> ...and people would never want to pump their own petrol, either.
>
>
> --barry "former pump jockey"


 
Date: 28 Dec 2006 06:35:47
From: shane
Subject: Re: Very interesting article on coffeegeek
I can see this becoming a trend also. 3 or 4 years ago the Starbucks
cafe inside the Barnes and Noble here added a superauto. I noticed
that the espresso was actually consistently drinkable. Not having to
train or worry about inattentive PBTCs would keep things consistient.

Bigger fear, what would this do to the world of prosumer equipment?
Will machine makers still make old fashioned manual machines?

Shane


bernie wrote:
> gscace wrote:
>
> > http://www.coffeegeek.com/opinions/georgesabados/12-19-2006
> >
> > I fear that it is true, unfortunately.
> >
> > -Greg
> >
>
> yep. the balance between the number of bad shots being served by
> inattentive pbtcs and a slightly lower quality being consistently served
> is quickly being tipped in favor of the superauto. I feel myself being
> sucked into that black hole. And I still think I have the best staff in
> the state.
> Bernie



 
Date: 28 Dec 2006 07:11:13
From: bernie
Subject: Re: Very interesting article on coffeegeek
gscace wrote:

> http://www.coffeegeek.com/opinions/georgesabados/12-19-2006
>
> I fear that it is true, unfortunately.
>
> -Greg
>

yep. the balance between the number of bad shots being served by
inattentive pbtcs and a slightly lower quality being consistently served
is quickly being tipped in favor of the superauto. I feel myself being
sucked into that black hole. And I still think I have the best staff in
the state.
Bernie


 
Date: 28 Dec 2006 01:32:46
From: CoffeeKid
Subject: Re: Very interesting article on coffeegeek

gscace wrote:
> http://www.coffeegeek.com/opinions/georgesabados/12-19-2006

Just a small update - for some reason, the initial publishing date was
wonky, resulting in the above URL. The correct url is

http://www.coffeegeek.com/opinions/georgesabados/12-27-2006

k



  
Date: 28 Dec 2006 09:54:05
From: Tony Verhulst
Subject: Re: Very interesting article on coffeegeek
CoffeeKid wrote:
> http://www.coffeegeek.com/opinions/georgesabados/12-27-2006
>
> k
>
Did I some how miss it, or was the make and model of this machine
actually not mentioned in the article?

Tony V.


 
Date: 27 Dec 2006 22:31:13
From:
Subject: Re: Very interesting article on coffeegeek

I also agree with what the future holds. And, as shall says finding
good espresso anywhere would be nice. I just wonder if these machines
will be able to stay tuned well enough over time, even a short time,
cuz you know these anywhere cafes won't be able to keep up with even
simple maintenance, they just won't do it.
That said, it's been a while since Mr. Sabados tried this "machine",
so there must be some around? Who's going to be the first to recommend
a good cafe that uses supers that produce at this level.
I sure don't know any



  
Date: 28 Dec 2006 07:11:22
From: Coffee for Connoisseurs
Subject: Re: Very interesting article on coffeegeek
I've already seen superauto machines that can equal a good barista, but
there's a way to go before they equal an excellent one. Even Rancilio are in
the act; they bought Swiss superauto maker Egro last year. The problem as
always is maintenance. You can replace x number of skilled baristas with
minimum wage button pressers and cut your wage bill down, but the weekly
call by the $200.00/hr service tech soon pushes the costs back up. Skip the
tech and your milk & coffee quality goes to hell. Ask Al.


--
Alan

alanfrew@coffeeco.com.au
www.coffeeco.com.au





 
Date: 28 Dec 2006 05:33:12
From: Marshall
Subject: Re: Very interesting article on coffeegeek
On 27 Dec 2006 20:13:53 -0800, "gscace" <gregory.scace@nist.gov >
wrote:

>http://www.coffeegeek.com/opinions/georgesabados/12-19-2006
>
>I fear that it is true, unfortunately.
>
>-Greg

I think it is true, fortunately.

Our beloved espresso shrines will continue to turn out their handmade
masterpieces for a long time to come. But, we (and by "we" I mean the
public in general) will finally have a decent chance of getting good
espresso at the 99% of coffee bars that never took barista training
seriously and never will.

Imagine walking into any random shop and expecting the espresso to be
good. Isn't that what most of us dream of (when we're not dreaming
about world peace, of course)?

shall