Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The thing about trying to find a decent coffee in the country is...

So, I’ve had the experience of being in a country town and in desperate need of a latte, and all the milky goodness that goes with it. I’ve discovered there are just far, far too many people who have access to an espresso machine and think they can actually use it with some aplomb.

Exhibit A: Modern looking country café that does the worst possible espresso you can imagine. Except, you are so desperate for a coffee by the time you reach them that you will actually choke it down. You’ve tried to pick the most modern looking place in sight, in the hope of actually getting a decent latte. But *sigh* it comes out, as brown as muck. You try it, and then shovel in sugar in an attempt to drown out the taste of the burnt beans, burnt milk, etc.

Exhibit B: Country café that actually can make a decent (and I mean, it’s no artwork, but can be drunk as it should, without sugar!) coffee, and so will charge you $4.50 for the privilege. They have essentially no competition, so gouge those that do visit. Food Critic Andrew and I were at this decent looking café – which I had chosen on the basis that it was relatively busy and therefore must be “alright”. We ordered our lattes and had a great old time reading the paper and hanging around (in fact, we were waiting for a nearby bookstore to open. It didn’t; but that’s entirely beside the point). When I went to pay for our drinks, I mooned around the counter waiting, admiring the various biscuits and gleaning some forthcoming ideas, that you will no doubt see in this blog in the future. Then the bill! $9! For 2 lattes! I was so gobsmacked I actually paid it, and then walked outside looking slightly dazed. I thought it was a mistake, and checked the menu to see if they’d charged me for the wrong table. Oh no – they’re expensive, and they know it. No names, no court martials – but seriously – that is just silly! See what happens when you can make a decent coffee, and really don’t have any competition? The mark-up on a coffee is already insane – it really doesn’t need to be higher that $3 or so.

Exhibit C: Joe Blow with a coffee machine. Bad idea, going to these places. Food Critic Andrew and I were up and on the road early once and eventually found a town - and a bakery with a coffee machine. I asked for skim, he asked for whole milk. As she is foaming the milk, the girl says “I’m jus’ gunna do ‘em both with skinny milk, cause that’s what I had out. Is that alright?” A bit too gobsmacked to protest, we agreed. Then got in the car, tasted the coffees, and promptly had to release them into the wild. I never thought I’d ever say this – but if you’re in the country – there is actually a reason to go to McDonalds “McCafe”. At least they’ve been taught how to make an espresso properly – and have some sort of understanding about actually making what you ask for!

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