Let me say upfront that I always prefer drinking coffee with someone else in a cafe, restaurant, coffee shop or wherever. Although they represent the most significant components, there is more to a good coffee experience than simply the taste, aroma and presentation of the coffee – the venue, the cup (!!), the people you are drinking coffee with, etc. But that said, there are many times that you will want to drink coffee at home and unless you have a very friendly and accommodating barista in your life, that is going to involve a coffee machine of some description.
Most people are not in a position to purchase a commercial-grade machine and so, having moved on from filter-coffee and plungers, there has been an amazing uptake of coffee machines that have specifically designed for in home use. I have had three such machines over the journey – a Saeco automatic machine, a built-in Miele automatic (I hope the people who bought my house appreciate that little bonus!) and my most recent purchase – a DeLonghi ECAM23.210.B (see image above – retail value approximately $1300 when I bought it about two years ago).
The good thing about this machine is that you can adjust the amount of coffee to be ground (beans are ground freshly each time) and the volume of coffee dispensed. Once you have programmed those into the machine, you can almost guarantee a consistency of strength and, depending on the brand of coffee purchased, flavour. Typically, for price and convenience, I purchase either Vittoria or Lavazza coffee from my supermarket.
And, here’s the crunch question – does it make a good cup of coffee? The answer is – yes, it makes a good cup of coffee. Not a brilliant cup of coffee but a good cup of coffee. On the existing Geelong Coffee 5-star scale, I would give it a 3.5.
That means that, by my reckoning, 18 of the 65 cafes I have visited to this point of the journey have provided a coffee experience that is not as good as the one I can have at home with my DeLonghi. Another 23 scored the same 3.5 star rating as my DeLonghi. That’s basically two-thirds of the cafes I have been to exceed the performance of my home machine – disturbing to say the least.
And here’s an example of what I mean. In the two photos that appear below, you can see the two cups of coffee I have had today. In the first photo, you will see the coffee that I purchased at Customs House on the Geelong Waterfront this morning. It’s hard to see from the angle of the photo but the coffee was served in a cappuccino cup. And look at the crema – or more correctly, look at the complete lack of a crema. That photo was taken within 20 seconds of the coffee arriving at my table, so there had been no chance for an existing crema to have dissipated before the photo was taken. In the other photo, a cup of coffee made by my DeLonghi machine – no human intervention, using standard supermarket-grade beans. Great crema and, of course, served in a tulip cup.
Coffee from Customs House
Coffee from my DeLonghi
It became apparent this morning, when that coffee was presented to me by the waitress – not only is there a severe shortage of top-line baristas in Geelong, there appears to be a serious shortage of people who even know about coffee. If I had been the waitress this morning, I could not have served that coffee to a customer. Whilst the taste was satisfactory, the presentation was poor. Imagine if your bacon and eggs was served with the yolks broken and running all over the plate. The chef would insist on re-making the dish before serving. Why can’t baristas and wait staff take the same pride in their presentation?
You can imagine that my review of Customs House won’t be that good but if you want to read it, click here
Geelong baristas – life your game!