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RobbieTheTruth

Starbucks/Costa/Nero/McDonalds etc

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I think most agree that the coffee from these places isn't to our tastes.

Why are they so poor?

Is it simply that they are using generic dark roasts, over-roasted to guarantee a uniform, consistent taste?  I'm guessing their equipment is good?

Are their brewing methods different to what the regulars on this forum strive for?

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Main reason is the bean freshness - difficult to maintain logistically in coffee chain multiple outlets. If you checkout Starbucks' web promo guff, lots of mentions of using Arabica beans, forging relationships with farmers (good) but no mention on roast dates of beans used in outlets (bad).


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Also, they make them really dark roasts, almost burnt, so that some taste can break through the gallon of hot milk they use in most of the drinks. If I have to use Costa I ask for the Old Paradise beans, or at Starbucks I go for the speciality single origin (they call it the "blonde roast" at the moment I think). I find them far more pleasant and palatable in small milk drinks (Cortado or macchiato).

Steve


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2 minutes ago, Steve_S_T said:

Also, they make them really dark roasts, almost burnt, so that some taste can break through the gallon of hot milk they use in most of the drinks. If I have to use Costa I ask for the Old Paradise beans, or at Starbucks I go for the speciality single origin (they call it the "blonde roast" at the moment I think). I find them far more pleasant and palatable in small milk drinks (Cortado or macchiato).

Steve

Starbucks have added a light roast to the menu and I was looking foward to trying it.

When I saw them getting it ready I saw the beans in the grinder and they were still very dark and shiny and I double checked that was their light roast.  It was more paletable than standard, but still burnt.

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This is probably an unpopular opinion but for some reason of all the big chains I find McDonalds coffee most drinkable. I know it has almost no aroma and no real flavour notes, Starbucks probably is brewed at a proper strength but regardless of all that, it just tastes so bad to me.

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Just think about it. Are their baristas properly trained and allowed to alter the grinder setting to dial in shots? Do they aim for consistent input or do they just use a doser grinder and get it in the right ball park? Do they tamp properly or just slap it against the tamper attached to the grinder? I like to think the coffee machines are cleaned at the end of the day but what about the grinder, and if not daily how often is it cleaned? 

Then you've got the quality of the beans they use, which you'd hope is commodity grade in the case of Starbucks given how they roast it (not sure about the others) as well as freshness.  


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I grab a coffee at Maccy D's and have to add sugar to make it palatable. I also add brown sugar when using the Costa machines at the petrol station.

Funnily enough, I rarely add sugar when making coffee at home with freshly roasted costa beans.

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The baristas in Costa are properly trained and although I don't call in very often anymore, the last time I've had their single origin in Bolton and York,it's been good in a milk based drink. The problem is all these chains know their market and that market is either going to want a milky drink, or a dessert with a hint of  coffee cutting through the spray cream and marshmallows. I'd imagine that sales of straight espresso are negligible, so aren't a concern, it's there only as a base for other flavours with their standard beans.

Another problem that Costa has compared to Starbuck's and Mcd's, is that they still make the drinks traditionally in most of their stores, so are at the mercy of the professionalism of their staff, with some branches being very good for a chain and others absolutely appalling. When I joined this forum around a decade ago, I used to scratch my head at the comments about Costa being crap, as the only two I went in regularly were fine. It was only as I started  visiting more branches, I realised how bad they could be.

As far as I'm concerned, the other chains are all dire and I wouldn't even bother, choosing a Costa vending machine over any of them.

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23 hours ago, cold war kid said:

The baristas in Costa are properly trained and although I don't call in very often anymore, the last time I've had their single origin in Bolton and York,it's been good in a milk based drink. The problem is all these chains know their market and that market is either going to want a milky drink, or a dessert with a hint of  coffee cutting through the spray cream and marshmallows. I'd imagine that sales of straight espresso are negligible, so aren't a concern, it's there only as a base for other flavours with their standard beans.

Agree! Most of their customers actually want a dessert. In the end, that's taste anything except coffee...

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On 11/06/2019 at 21:09, Rob1 said:

Just think about it. Are their baristas properly trained and allowed to alter the grinder setting to dial in shots? Do they aim for consistent input or do they just use a doser grinder and get it in the right ball park? Do they tamp properly or just slap it against the tamper attached to the grinder? I like to think the coffee machines are cleaned at the end of the day but what about the grinder, and if not daily how often is it cleaned? 

Then you've got the quality of the beans they use, which you'd hope is commodity grade in the case of Starbucks given how they roast it (not sure about the others) as well as freshness.  

I know someone that worked as a barista in a Costa, he told me he wasn't allowed to change the grinder.

I've generally found Costa to be better than Starbucks, now I realise how poor they are, I'd have to do something pretty bad to make coffee at home to Costa level now. The last Starbucks I went to I ordered a filter cofffee, thinking how wrong can it go, I under estimated how wrong it can go, it was undrinkable.


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4 hours ago, Nick1881 said:

..The last Starbucks I went to I ordered a filter cofffee, thinking how wrong can it go, I under estimated how wrong it can go, it was undrinkable.

Why, what did they filter it through, a pair tramps socks?


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I'm surprised the chains even merit discussion on any serious coffee form. The crap they produce unskillfully is undrinkable to me.

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My niece worked at Cafe Nero then Starbucks - in her words "both use mega shity  dark beans" and "starbucks just have a real crappy huge bean to cup machine for speed" that's  turned away from customer so you cant see how your drink is made without any skill involved, She also mentioned that both employers are "absolute cockwombles and wankpuffins with shity wages" - interestingly she found that locally customers at the Nero and starbucks often had long term enduring mental health conditions as it seemed to have taken the place of the local MH drop in centre that was closed in the cuts, quite genuinely she had a lot of time for these customers.

 

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My niece worked at Cafe Nero then Starbucks - in her words "both use mega shity  dark beans" and "starbucks just have a real crappy huge bean to cup machine for speed" that's  turned away from customer so you cant see how your drink is made without any skill involved, She also mentioned that both employers are "absolute cockwombles and wankpuffins with shity wages" - interestingly she found that locally customers at the Nero and starbucks often had long term enduring mental health conditions as it seemed to have taken the place of the local MH drop in centre that was closed in the cuts, quite genuinely she had a lot of time for these customers.
 

That made me laugh and a bit sad at the same time.
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A friend managed to get a reasonable ( well, drinkable, tasting of coffee and not needing lots of sugar) coffee at Starbucks, he asked for a white americano  made using their coldbrew concentrate rather than espresso. It surprised the staff for somebody to want that, but they obliged.

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9 hours ago, Rhys said:

Why, what did they filter it through, a pair tramps socks?

Must have, with burnt beans and then boiled the tramps urine. 

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13 hours ago, Nick1881 said:

I know someone that worked as a barista in a Costa, he told me he wasn't allowed to change the grinder.

I've generally found Costa to be better than Starbucks, now I realise how poor they are, I'd have to do something pretty bad to make coffee at home to Costa level now. The last Starbucks I went to I ordered a filter cofffee, thinking how wrong can it go, I under estimated how wrong it can go, it was undrinkable.

I've also made the mistake of buying a Starbucks filter coffee. I think they must have used an espresso grind of their darkest beans and boiled it all in a pot for 3 hours. It just tasted like ash...! 

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I find Costa the best of the bunch.

Used to have a Starbucks before going to the office every morning - but since creating coffee at home, really cannot stand the taste of their beans anymore.

The only time I find Costa doesn't taste 'okay', is when its rush hour and the coffee chap is creating the drinks at a million mph!!


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Posted (edited)

After I graduated I was looking for a part time job for a bit of pocket money prior to buggering off backpacking (thanks credit crunch...). 

Had the pleasure of interviewing at both Costa and Starbucks. The interviewer at Costa was keen to stress that I'd be clearing tables and restocking the drinks - said they took the coffee rather seriously, and only trained batistas were let near the machines. When I asked the lady at Starbucks if I'd be making coffee as a bloke off the street... 'yeah, it's dead easy, you just push the button'.

Needless to say, my career in the fast paced world of coffee retail did not take off...  I ended up stacking shelves at Sainsbury's 😭

Edited by 2cups

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Truer words never spoken. A cartoon I did well over a decade ago.

http://coffeetime.wikidot.com/blap-26-becoming-a-qualified-barista-humour

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20 hours ago, 2cups said:

After I graduated I was looking for a part time job for a bit of pocket money prior to buggering off backpacking (thanks credit crunch...). 

Had the pleasure of interviewing at both Costa and Starbucks. The interviewer at Costa was keen to stress that I'd be clearing tables and restocking the drinks - said they took the coffee rather seriously, and only trained batistas were let near the machines. When I asked the lady at Starbucks if I'd be making coffee as a bloke off the street... 'yeah, it's dead easy, you just push the button'.

Needless to say, my career in the fast paced world of coffee retail did not take off...  I ended up stacking shelves at Sainsbury's 😭

You're just trying to show off there. Hark at you, with your  fancy London jobs. ☺️

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