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How do coffee houses maintain consistency?


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I’m surprised about the consistent standard of the coffee (mainly Latte) I’ve had around the country. It’s led me to wonder how they manage to achieve it and what the main contributors may be?

I don’t think it’s the staff, but maybe the training is really good?

Do they condition their water?

Are their machines special in some way?

Are their beans different?

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Modern state of the art espresso machines, once set up, don't require any skill to pull shots. The only thing that can drift during service is the grind due to a number of factors especially heat which is why commercial grinders have onboard cooling. 

If you really want to test the levels of training and consistency, ask for a pour over - V60, Chemex or an Aeropress if they offer it. That will test how good the barista is. 

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Do any of them expect their baristas to dose, tamp and pull shots manually? I think all the Starbucks I've visited use bean-to-cup machines and even the milk steaming is largely automated. The beans are obviously roasted and blended to meet a fairly rigid specification.

If I were running an operation on this scale would I expect the machinery to be set up:

- for fixed dose/yield/shot times with fairly detailed monitoring of each shot.

- to be self-adjusting (e.g. tweak the grind slightly finer if the shot is running fast)

- to be sending settings and monitoring statistics back to a central location periodically.

If anything gets out of limits you send someone round to fix/replace bits as necessary.

Edited by Stox
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10 minutes ago, Stox said:

Do any of them expect their baristas to dose, tamp and pull shots manually? I think all the Starbucks I've visited use bean-to-cup machines and even the milk steaming is largely automated. The beans are obviously roasted and blended to meet a fairly rigid specification.

If I were running an operation on this scale would expect the machinery to be set up:

- for fixed dose/yield/shot times with fairly detailed monitoring of each shot.

- to be self-adjusting (e.g. tweak the grind slightly finer if the shot is running fast)

- to be sending settings and monitoring statistics back to a central location periodically.

If anything gets out of limits you send someone round to fix/replace bits as necessary.

So glad I rarely buy coffee outside...

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Nothing here...

 

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I used to work in Costa. Dosing grinders, strict bean freshness guidance (so many minutes ground, hours bag open and days bags stored on site) very regular weighing and adjusting of grinder based on weight in and out of the test shots until it's right. And all times automated on the machine, but grind and tamp barista specific. And lots and lots of training to go through. 

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Did someone say coffee?

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50 minutes ago, Akula said:

 

Or you could just ask for an Espresso from Starbucks/Costa , then you can taste.

Milk and sugar can hide a lot. 

 

I remember being told a number of years ago by someone working as a Barista in one of these places that the coffee bean blends they used were best enjoyed in milk based drinks. 


I also wonder where the espresso offer in these big brand high street places figure in total coffee sales.

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Full fat milk hides almost all sins and then factor in the crap that most people add on top of that and you could put instant coffee in most peoples latte and they wouldn't know the difference.

I reckon if you drank espresso from all these coffee shops you would have a very different opinion.

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22 hours ago, mctrials23 said:

.......I reckon if you drank espresso from all these coffee shops you would have a very different opinion.

In what way ??

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2 hours ago, Akula said:

In what way ??

I can make a very poor espresso at home which to drink "neat" would be quite unpleasant. When I change beans and the grind needs a dramatic change I will quite often have 2-3 shots where the espresso is poor as I go through the settings. If I put those poor espressos into a latte, they are totally fine and drinkable. The milk and the sweetness in it hides a lot of the errors in the espresso.

I've been to quite a few coffee shops and very few do really good espresso yet I have never had a bad latte. Some have been better than others but I have never thought "god this is awful"

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That's very interesting.

Clearly, the taste of the coffee is going to be masked by milk, if added. Worse if sugar also. The taste of milk is pretty universal, so the variation in flavour should, perhaps, be minimal.

When I first started making coffee from beans at home, one of the bags I enjoyed most happened to be a Starbuck's 'house' bean. I assumed they were fresher than the others i'd tried.

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On 05/01/2021 at 11:50, Marocchino said:

I also wonder where the espresso offer in these big brand high street places figure in total coffee sales.

I'd guestimate probably on the small/lesser side compared to milk based drinks; but i could be wrong.....i don't see many (if any) punters drinking espresso when i frequent/pop-by a coffee place in the UK......however whenever i'm abroad i do see more espresso drinkers.....i assume us Brits just want "more" in a cup/moneysworth, ergo those you see drinking a 1ltr chocolatey-wizzbang-sprinkly covered-fig infused-latte'accano 😵

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I was one of those rare people ordering and drinking a double espresso (with a glass of water normally) in a chain, I tried Costa and Starbucks but they were almost undrinkable (to my taste), Nero’s was the only one I could stomach, but espresso in the same shop varied in extraction, sometimes during the same day.
Yes, like DaveC I make better at home, but that was no help when we were out shopping (remember carefree days wandering through shops?) and Mrs Gee wanted to stop for a cake and a cuppa, that’s when you have to bite your lip and “take one for the team”, someone a lot wiser than I, said compromise is the secret to a happy marriage.....
There is a happy ending for my experience, a really good artisan shop opened just prior to the first lockdown and are hanging on by their fingertips, their coffee is excellent and like lots of others, I use them whenever possible, fingers crossed they survive.
 

 

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I travel a lot and used to like a Starbucks or so I thought! One day the guy who works with me said could we go elsewhere as he doesn’t like the coffee in Starbucks. I said really! How come we’ve been here loads?

he said the coffee tastes burnt. From that day all I can taste is burnt bitter taste from their coffee. Only been back about a dozen times in past 6 years. 
 

I used to enjoy a Coffee nation coffee on the road. I only really drink latte can’t seem to stomach neat espresso, or maybe i just haven’t tastes a good one yet. 

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