Tosti Gets Testy: Seattle Weekly Disses Cafe

Seattle Weekly coffee blogger Rose Tosti hast dobbed with her gilded pen a scathing exposé on her americano experience at Cowen Park Grocery, a mom-and-pop wine shop / grocery store / occasional purveyor of grilled Korean snacks just north of Seattle’s University District. Can you handle the flame?

The Umbria in my Americano at CPG was blond. Like a towhead. The initial flavor was sharp and shallow. Which brings us to the topic of aftertaste.

I’d never thought much about what aftertaste might actually be. A lingering flavor, certainly, but… well, why? And why is it so common for that lingering flavor to be different from the flavor it is lingering after? What is the cause behind that expression of unexpected lingering, the “funny aftertaste”?

Aftertaste, it seems, is not just a lingering flavor, but actually a whole new flavor. A substance – take coffee for example – once swallowed, leaves residue behind. Aftertaste is the result of vapors released from that residue: perhaps one reason that a strong aftertaste often feels more like a strong after-smell.

For example: though I have never in my life (not even once) tasted turpentine, that is what the aftertaste of Cowen Park’s Umbria “tasted” like to me. Resinous and acute, almost stingingly bright. Well varnished. Not what I look for in a coffee.

Dang, Rose Tosti! Here’s some good advice we’ve been told many a time, and we think it’s prudent for anyone in any situation like this: if you don’t like your coffee, don’t be shy about asking for another drink. This is true in so many situations. If you go to a place and order a burger, and the burger is burnt, or isn’t medium-rare like how you might like it, you should ask them to cook you a new one. You shouldn’t eat it, not like it, then write a feature about how it’s awful.

But who are we to tell Tosti what to do? Should sensory journalists poop on that which they deem dump-worthy? Sound off in the comments below!

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Comments

  1. nameTony says

    the “time-honored tradition” of food writing has several actual time-honored traditions, one of them being “go to where you’re reviewing more than once.”

    and how is someone supposed judge the qualities of an espresso in americano form? garcon, this pinot noir is terrible, and it’s ruining my red wine spritzer.

  2. says

    This blog is ripped out of context. The whole point of the Seattle Weekly column is to feature coffee shops that readers might (or might not) wish to visit. As such, replicating an actual customer visit as closely as possible and then sharing impressions seems a reasonable goal for the blogger.

    This is not about spitting one’s coffee in public, rather it’s the time-honored tradition of restaurant criticism.

    And believe me, Rose tends to be both more gentle and more positive than she could be… Seattle still does have some truly awful espressos.

  3. says

    Yeah, I was pretty excited when CPG renovated and added a cafe, but when I saw they were going to serve Umbria, I gave up hope. I was a good neighborly customer and ordered coffee there a couple times, but never again. Since they opened the cafe, Herkimer has opened on the Ave about 2 blocks away (legit, great coffee) and the Seven Roasters guy bought, renovated, and installed a coffee bar at the Boulevard Grocery, just a handful of blocks farther East on Ravenna.

  4. says

    have you ever fucking had umbria? it’s totally wretched. anybody who willingly orders it is inherently too stupid to judge the quality of anything.

  5. says

    As an avid espresso drinker, I agree with Tony. But what’s Miss Tosti doing wasting her pallate on americano in the first place? An inverted aeropress method brew would be a much more fairer way to evaluate. She should really know that.

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