“Science is very good at finding cause and effect,” Dr Fekete says. “You make a perfect cup or a perfect roast, but it’s a bit of luck, a matter of trial and error. By doing coffee science, we’re taking some of the guesswork and mystery out of making good coffee.”
I wonder if they have any vacancies for field testers?
“Well, baristas aren’t the smartest of people.” It’s something I overheard at a cafe a couple of years ago. Something that was said within earshot of the barista. Just how smart was that person then, I wonder? It could almost make the grade as a horror story that a barista might tell, except, unfortunately, there are tales far worse to be told.
Baristas know there’s always a customer in line who thinks he has beaten the system by ordering an Apple Pie Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake Macchiato off the nonexistent “secret menu.” And there’s another who, during the morning rush, orders six different Frappuccinos. And of course, there’s always one guy who is excruciatingly specific with his order: non-fat, no-whip, 140-degrees, three-and-a-half-pump caramel latte with exactly one inch of foam.
I must go to the wrong cafes. I’ve never found buying a cup of coffee to be expensive, time consuming, or disappointing. Nor I have encountered baristas who think they are better than their customers. Most are way too busy working to have such… lofty ideals. Like I say, maybe I go to the wrong places.
The contemporary consumer ritual of fancy coffee isn’t for everyone. It can be expensive, time consuming, and all too frequently disappointing. It demands you buy into its flimsy conceits about baristas as highly skilled craftspeople and coffee as an almost impenetrably special flavor experience. The implicit message is if you don’t like this fancy coffee, if you don’t think it tastes good, you can probably chalk it up to your lack of sophistication.
The cafe is full of people such as yourself, staring intently into the screens of their laptops, and looking productive. What’s the bet you’ve wondered what they are doing? Los Angeles based entrepreneur Tristan de Montebello, and his friend Andrew Parr, decided to find out. They simply started asking others at the cafe they were working from, what they were doing.
I was once asked what I was doing at a cafe one morning. The person enquiring though was not actually interested per se, rather, he was looking for a way to conclude the clearly awkward first date he was on. I think the woman he was with was also about to ask, but he jumped first.
Red Lights, a collection of photos taken by Blaise Arnold, of cafes in and around Paris. Is it just me, or do some of these coffee houses look familiar? I’m sure I’ve seen a few of these places in films set in Paris.
But now the market is getting even more crowded, as convenience stores such as 7-Eleven offer 1,000 won (87 cents) cups, and smaller players are feeling the heat. “We declared an emergency situation, gathered all employees eight times to debate strategies,” Moon Chang-ki, CEO of mid-priced coffee chain Ediya, the country’s largest operator by location with about 1,800 stores, told reporters recently. “If we sell at that price, our store owners won’t earn any margins.”
I sometimes wonder if this will happen in a place like Sydney. You can walk along the main streets of some suburbs and almost every other shop is, it seems, a cafe.
People not only collect the lids of takeaway coffee cups, well, I’m pretty someone, somewhere, probably does, they also study them, that’s something known as visual literacy, being the taking of an interest in the design of all the objects, no matter how insignificant, around you.
A sign of things to come? A McCafe, in the Sydney suburb of Camperdown, has shrugged off its McDonalds-ness by way of a very contemporary makeover, in a possible attempt to attract a more hip, hipster, crowd.
Late in December the McCafe next to Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital changed its name to The Corner, removed all the Golden Arches and started selling kale salads and tofu. It’s Macca’s response to consumer demand for healthier food and quality coffee and it’s the first of its kind in the world.
Located a mere fraction outside of the City of London, at 139 Brick Lane, the Cereal Killer Cafe is a dining establishment that only serves breakfast cereal. The only such place in the UK apparently. How about the world?