How to Recognize Good Coffee in a Coffee Shop

Jun 24, 2024

When you walk into a coffee shop, there are a few details you can pay attention to in order to assess the quality of the coffee they make. Here are five key aspects to consider:

  1. Observe the working station
    Bar counters in coffee shops are often like open kitchens, providing a clear view of the cleanliness and organization of the baristas. A dirty coffee machine or greasy hopper are obvious signs of poor care and attention to the consequences that impurities will have on the final outcome, as well as probably denoting poor quality of ingredients and unprofessionalism. On the other hand, a well-maintained work station indicates attention to detail and respect for the customer.
  2. The milk
    A professional barista knows that milk, whether cow or plant-based, should be stored in the refrigerator and taken out only when needed to be immediately frothed. Pay attention to the milk pitchers as well: if you see only very large pitchers, it likely means the milk is being reheated multiple times. This can make cappuccinos less digestible and suggests a lack of focus on quality.
  3. Espresso preparation time
    When ordering an espresso, pay attention to the brewing time. Start counting the seconds from the moment you hear the machine start: if the brew takes between 20 and 30 seconds, it’s a good sign that your coffee will be of decent quality. Be wary of baristas who boast about their speed; if they brew coffee in less than 15 seconds, the quality of the beverage is often compromised.
  4. Staff Expertise and Passion
    Engage with the baristas about the coffee you are drinking. A knowledgeable and passionate barista will be enthusiastic and eager to share details about the coffee. If your question, "What coffee am I drinking?" is met with vague answers like "Eh, a secret blend" or "Dunno...," it’s a sign that you may not be in a high-quality coffee shop. Passion and product knowledge are key indicators of a good coffee shop. And that usually translates into a nice explanation of the type of arabica, they will tell you about where it came from and why they chose that brand.
  5. Indicators of Quality
    A coffee shop that offers good coffee invests in high-quality raw materials, training, and equipment. Such establishments are usually proud of their offerings and want to make it known. Look for terms like "specialty," "artisanal," or "single-origin" when you walk in. These words indicate that the café takes its coffee seriously and is committed to providing a top-notch product.

By following these simple tips, you can easily distinguish a good coffee shop from a mediocre one and enjoy great coffee whenever you want it.

How to Recognize Good Coffee in a Coffee Shop