I love coffee, and I have to admit, I'm an addict. Missing my morning cup brings on a headache by afternoon and a bad coffee makes me insanely grumpy. My beverage of choice is a caffe latte. I'm sure some coffee purists will probably stop reading at this point but I find the milk adds signicantly to the whole coffee experience - at least when it is done right.
My current favourite coffee bean - the one I grind every morning for my wake-up latte - is an Ethiopian Yergacheffe that I source from The Perfect Cup [Note: I wouldn't recommend visiting their website as there is no way to turn off the annoying voiceover].
So what makes a good coffee? It's probably easier to describe what makes a bad one. My biggest complaint is overheated milk. If I can't drink the coffee when it's handed to me by the barista, it's too hot. Ideally the milk should be frothed to about 65°C (150°F). At this temperature the coffee is drinkable and the milk and espresso flavours well balanced. The milk is also of a good thickness and texture. As the milk gets hotter it gets thinner, the froth gets coarser and it just doesn't blend as well with the coffee. And then there are the people who actually manage to scald the milk. There is a special place reserved for them...
My second complaint is with over or under-espressed coffee. This happens when the coffee is ground too fine (for over) or coarse (for under). When the coffee is too finely ground the water takes too long to get through it and you end up with coffee which tastes burnt. When it is too coarsely ground the water seeps through it too quickly and you end up with a weak, tasteless coffee. Ideally the coffee should be ground so that it takes about 26-28 seconds to espress a shot (30ml) of coffee. A perfectly espressed coffee has a rich crema on top which doesn't dissipate over time.
Get those two elements right, make a nice pattern in the crema using the milk (see the pictures to the right), and you're well on the way to making an excellent cup of coffee. The cafés listed to the left are places where I think they have mastered this art.
You can access our reviews from the list below or the Locations... menu to the left:
In Melbourne, Australia
- Brother Baba Budan (359 Little Bourke Street). Hard to find but worth it.
- Seven Seeds (114 Berkeley Street, Carlton). Great coffee, tasty muesli.
- St Ali's (12-18 Yarra Place, South Melbourne). Tasty fresh roasted coffee.
In Adelaide, Australia
- The Coffee Barun (2a, 221 Main North Rd, Sefton Park). Great coffee in an unlikely location.
- Bar 9 (91 Glen Osmond Road, Eastwood). Close but no cigar.
Elsewhere in Australia
- Pigeon Hole (93 Goulburn Street, West Hobart). The best coffee in Hobart?
- Bay Coffee Roasters (Shop 2, Neutral Bay). On site roasting coffee.
- Artisan Roast (57 Broughton St, Edinburgh). The best coffee in Scotland?
In New York, the USA
- Zibetto (1385 6th Ave). No frills espresso Italian style.
- Jack's Stir Brew (138 West 10th Street). Unquestionably the best coffee in New York.
Elsewhere in the USA
- The Blue Bottle Coffee Company (Ferry Bldg, 1 Ferry Bldg, San Francisco). The best coffee in San Francisco.
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