How do you judge a cafe?

This is a question which has been buzzing round in my head for a few months which was brought firmly back to the surface today. Is it fair or right to judge a cafe on one drink or visit?

Here is whats going through my head:

Is one drink, espresso or not, something that you should use as a standard to recommend a cafe to a friend? Today I have visited quite a few cafes in London, Soho precisely -full post on the weekend tomorrow, and as a whole have liked what I saw/tasted. I’ve used that slash on purpose its not an ‘and’ thing! As a ‘Barista’ I know that not every shot of coffee I pull is the absolute best it can be all the time, in-fact it’s probably never the best it can be but as close as I can get it within the environment I am in. One of the things I would love to be able to do is taste every drink that I serve to a customer to ensure its quality. That’s not possible and I would probably receive a few slaps in the process of losing all my custom. I always try and taste as much as I can within reason because I know that at some point I’m going to need to tweak what I’m doing to keep the shot up there. I mention this only to highlight the ‘difficulty’. I know in the past I’ve recommended places to people on the strength of a shot (quality not flavour) and regretted it the next time I’ve seen them. On the flip side I’ve had a terrible shot in ‘x cafe’ and told people to avoid it only to try it again and get a great shot, seemingly consistently.

I think I need some kind of barometer with which to rate cafes! Although I obsess about shot quality, a Cafe isn’t all about that, much as it pains me to admit! Don’t get me wrong it is important just not the be all and end all! If you could get World Barista Championship coffee from a vending machine would everyone want to go there……no! If you had fantastic location with leather seats, a great community serving instant coffee would people totally ignore the place….no! Its a combination of all these things that makes a great cafe! The Staff, the sense of community, the decor, the food, the music, the location AND the coffee.

So back to my dilemma. Today I was in three very different cafes all in the same area, all with different appeals and in my opinion all good cafes. I know which one I would visit again and again but is that a fair recommendation after one visit and 1 shot in each. Discuss!

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2 thoughts on “How do you judge a cafe?

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