When you first visit a cafe, you want to taste the beans to see if they are roasted correctly and if they are of high quality. Coffees can mask the quality of their beans with milk and sugar and serve specialty drinks that no longer taste like coffee.
If this is your first time at a new cafe, here are the drinks you should order to make sure you’re getting quality, properly brewed coffee beans.
Drinks you should try and why
You can learn a lot about how a store is run and what you can expect from your cup of coffee by watching the baristas. Keep an eye out for them while they brew your coffee.
You will learn if they use the right technique and if they care about the coffee they serve. This is true for an espresso and a reverse side. By watching this you will learn a lot about the business in general as well as coffee.
Of course, that doesn’t mean watching your local Starbucks barista. Starbucks and many other coffeehouse chains barely train their staff. Most of these employees won’t know how to make a decent payout halfway through.
The best cafes will have specific training programs for their baristas and will have proper technique in all of their locations. There should be 4 basic skills taught to baristas.
- How to grind and brew filter coffee and make simple syrup for lattes
- How to make pourable coffee and pressed coffee
- How to make espresso drinks (Latte, Cortado, Cappuccino, etc.)
- How to calibrate and shoot espressos for specialty drinks
Different stores may specialize in different drinks. If they specialize in espresso, order the espresso, and if you hear they have great pourers, order the pourers. Some local stores can have a very high order volume, and they just don’t have the time or staff to make proper installments, but they do have some great espressos. Try to play on the store’s highlights when ordering to give them the best chance of impressing you.
Espresso or Double Espresso
It is not easy to extract the flavors from a lightly roasted coffee bean like an espresso. Many places make espressos that are unacceptable and unpleasant to the taste.
Lighter roasted beans are all the rage right now and are said to be brighter, but when poorly brewed they can lead to a sour face puckering experience. It is more difficult to prepare correctly and has a narrower selection window for brewing a balanced and sweet espresso.
If you are currently learning or want to learn more about espresso, this is a great way to compare different espressos to determine your preferred taste profile. When ordering espresso, there are a few things you can check.
- Look for a scale to see if your espresso is dosed correctly
- Check the bean hopper to make sure it is properly cleaned and that there is no old coffee oil and residue on it
Make sure you drink your espresso hot and freshly brewed. If you let the espresso cool, it will lose most of its flavor and aroma, removing much of the joy and pleasure of drinking espresso.
If you are in Italy, espresso is usually brewed at a 1: 3 ratio of espresso to water. About 7 grams of espresso will make a 21 gram shot. It’s less potent than in the United States where espresso is brewed at a ratio of 1 to 1 to a ratio of 1 to 2 where 20 grams of grounds can make 40 grams of espresso. Keep this in mind if you are traveling and ordering espresso around the world.
Coffee to pour
Poured coffee is a great way to judge the quality of a coffee. Only if a pour-over is listed on the menu for that specific cafe. If a pour-over is not listed on the menu, please do not order a pour-over to “test” how good the place is. You’re just setting everyone up for a bad time.
A pour should take about three minutes. If it takes longer, maybe they ground the beans too finely or the barista doesn’t know what they’re doing. If the pouring takes less time, the coffee may be ground too coarsely.
A well-made pour should be smooth and tasty. Pouring is the best test of a barista’s skills and if it tastes unpleasant you will know that he won’t be able to brew more complicated espresso drinks properly. You can also get a taste of their beans.
If you judge a store for its overall ability to offer great espresso drinks, great coffee beans, and skilled baristas, a cortado is the right drink to order. A cortado involves steaming milk, brewing an espresso, texturing the milk, and portioning it. You can also still taste the beans as the cortados only have a small amount of milk.
And if they ask you what size cortado you want, you know they weren’t trained properly and it’s probably best to cancel the order. A cortado is typically 1 to 1 steamed milk espresso with 2 ounces of each. There is no small, medium or large. These are just different types of espresso drinks.
There can be different variations of a cortado, but it’s usually an espresso and a little bit of milk with less milk than coffee most of the time.
The reason we order steamed milk is because of the great caramelized flavor that properly steamed milk gives to espresso. This is an important part of making great espresso drinks and cortados allow you to assess this without overpowering the other parts of the espresso.
Overall we all have our preferences when ordering coffee and we have drinks that we like the most. When you go out to a new cafe, you need to order one of the drinks listed above if you want to determine whether you want to keep coming back or not.
If you are not a coffee connoisseur, don’t worry, eventually you will find a coffee you love and keep coming back to. This is the most important part!