The overall feeling here is of a place long on attitude and short on product knowledge (pretentious menu descriptions notwithstanding), though I have no doubt that customers paying more for a simple cup of coffee than a sane person would pay for a full pound feel they’re drinking the very best.
Kevin Knox has penned a scathing piece on his negative experiences at Lamill Coffee, Intelligentsia LA and Peet’s Coffee and Tea. It’s well worth the read.
Some of it kind of sounds like a Yelp review, but from a reviewer who actually knows what he’s talking about:
The hot chocolate might as well have been Hershey’s given how overly-sugared it was – about as far removed from authentic French or Italian hot chocolate as one could imagine (and I say this having had the genuine article at Valrhona’s home city of Tain l’Hermitage).
But most of it (and the most cringe-worthy parts of it) hit close to home:
Tasted an espresso here as well and it was the usual Third Wave case of a very well selected and roasted blend brewed so as to be undrinkable except with milk (or by masochists). From the look and flavor it was the now-standard 20+ grams of coffee with a bare one-ounce yield: thick, bitter uber-ristretto that is the coffee equivalent of Herb Caen’s old joke about the ideal cocaine substitute (smear the inside of your nose with battery acid and burn a hundred dollar bill). It’s particularly sad to see state-of-the-art machinery and skilled baristas offering something so atrocious when a reduction of about 5 grams in the dose and a half-ounce or so more yield would produce something worth savoring straight, instead of drowning in steamed milk.
The hyper restricted, the uber-ristretto. The up-dosed, tight grind super-sweet mouthful of concentrated Sucker Pucker nothingness. We’ve all been there. Collectively, we could all probably talk about our experiences with this phenomenon in every great cafe in North America. It happens. It’s gonna happen. But you know what? Sometimes it can taste great. It’s not black and white. It’s not 2oz doubles or nothing. However, it’s our opinion that, purposeful experimentation not withstanding, a double espresso should yield more than one ounce of liquid.
His thoughts on batch brewing versus single-cup brewing is illuminating and we think it’s time that everyone reexamine their coffee offering programs in 2012.
Do you agree with Kevin? Should our uber-ristretto obsessed culture turn an about face and Knox it off already? Should we drop manual pour over only and bring back the batch brew? Is there room for both? Or do you think Kevin is just being obknoxious?