Dodging Dodgy Coffee

So here’s a story out of Perth, Australia, about how average consumers can avoid buying bad coffee by spotting five simple things in a coffee shop. I like their list – it includes things like how long does it take for them to pull a shot, how clean is the bar, and my favorite do they reheat milk/add cold milk to a used pitcher and what does the steam wand look like. That last one just sends a chill down my spine. I don’t get how any barista anywhere cannot fathom how necessary it is to clean the damn steam wand. I was in the Newark airport a couple of weeks ago, just off a red-eye flight from Portland. It was six a.m. I had an hour before my next flight., and I just wanted a good cup of coffee. I get in line at the standard chain option and move slowly toward the counter. But before I place my order, thankfully, I spy the La Marzocco and its steam wand. The machine drew me to the stand to begin with. I was impressed to see a non-superautomatic, and thought “Hey, maybe I can get a good shot here.” My optimism, however, crashed faster than Toonces the driving cat as I looked closer and saw an age-old crust of burned milk wrapped around the wand like a python swallowing the Tin Man’s leg.

One glimpse of that and I couldn’t stand to even order a drip coffee.

There’s also a video with the story which I’m quite interested in hearing your reactions too. I’m all for mainstream media doing quality coffee education, but I’m not sure this video accomplishes that. What do you think?

About the Author

Ken

Kenneth R. Olson is co-founder and publisher of Barista Magazine the worldwide trade magazine for the professional coffee community. He has written extensively about specialty coffee, traveled near and far for stories, activities, and fun, and been invited to present on topics important to coffee culture. He is also an avid fan of the Portland Trail Blazers and the Washington Huskies. Go Blazers! Go Dawgs!