You will not see me ordering an espresso drinks
You will not see me ordering an espresso drinks from a bar, a busy restaurant, or a store, and I have several compelling reasons for this attitude. I’m not saying all these establishment need to be avoided, but by using careful observation you can avoid having a bad experience.
Most of these places do not use the espresso machine as it is intended but use it instead as a ploy to entice you into spending more money. They do not usually have a barista on staff, nor are their employees properly trained to use the espresso machine correctly, and safely.
The odd retail store that sells espresso drinks often does so because they see it as a money-making ploy as well. The odds may be better there than a bar or a restaurant, because the owner of the store has been trained, and they will train their staff to serve a decent cup, and they do tend to take pride in their espresso unit and may take better care of it, but it will pay to be need mindful of the staff to ensure that they are using correct safety protocols in how they treat the machine, the coffee, and the milk.
Here are some tips to see if these places are making worthy, and safe espresso.
- Check to see if they have an espresso grinder next to their espresso machine. If they don’t, then they are using pods. Pods are not bad, and from the bar or restaurant point of view it is the most cost-effective way to have espresso. They do not need to train anybody to be a barista. They just put a premade espresso pod in and push a button and make a shot. The downside of using pods is that they have a long shelf life, and I have seen many expired pods being used.
- If the unit is not in sight but is in the back of the house (i.e. in the kitchen), odds are a cook, or member of the wait staff making the espresso drinks, setting up the potential for your cup will sit and get old and cold while they wait for the rest of the order to be filled before bringing to your table.
- Look at the Steam Wand. If you do see the espresso unit out in the open. Take a long look at the steam wand, if you see dried flaky milk on it, stay away. It will make you sick. If you also see pre-steamed milk sitting in a steaming pitcher with a thermometer in it, just leave and don’t come back, and call the health department. That milk has been heated up and is now cooling down to dangerous temp that will allow all kinds of pathogens to grow and potentially make you ill. I have seen some places reheat milk rather than throw it away to save a dine. That is very irresponsible and demonstrates a lack of concern.
- If by chance they do have a grinder, and are grinding their espresso beans fresh, count how long it takes to pour the shot from espresso machine. If it is under 20 seconds the grind is too course, and the espresso coming out will be weak and watery. If it is over 28 seconds, then it is over extracted, and will be very bitter.
Hopefully this will help you to steer clear of having a bad experience.