Rating Guide

Ceremony

  • The Cashier – The step of ordering the espresso initiates your espresso experience.  Do it calmly with knowing confidence setting a non-verbal expectation that they have a discerning customer and need to deliver.  Here the engagement of the cashier or barista can set the tone for the remainder of the café visit.  We prefer delightful interest over edgy, aloof, or dispassionate mannerisms; and certainly despise indifference like a limp handshake.  Reciprocal light conversation can lead to the best of experiences.  When the espresso is ordered we expect that a heightened level of awareness is triggered and subtly conveyed by the cashier to the barista.  The sequence of events can dramatically impact the espresso if the barista and cashier are not in sync.  At many cafés the barista will take your order then send you along the queue to pay.  An espresso has a brief half life and should be consumed shortly after receiving it.  We consider it a tragedy to have the espresso sitting with the crema dissipating while funds are exchanged.  A thoughtful process will ensure that the espresso is not pulled until after the payment has been completed.
  • The Barista  – When an espresso is ordered, it is our belief that the barista must be alert to the magnitude of importance of this order.  It is not a casual endeavor; an espresso must uphold its integrity without the assistance of sugar, milk, or other flavoring agents.  Garnering the actions of the barista at the point of ordering is crucial to evaluating the result.  We think it important that the barista provide a level of recognition back to customer ordering the espresso, thus acknowledging the gravity of their next actions. Simple eye contact works, followed by concentrated effort to make the best espresso possible.  Take note of the technique and passion and soon you will begin to surmise and discern the artists from the pretenders.

Presentation

  • Composition of elements – The final act the barista performs is presenting the espresso to you.  This requires a composition of elements that will vary cafe to cafe and speaks significantly to the level of importance the cafe invests into serving a proper espresso .  Our expectation and preference is for the espresso to be served with a compliment of elements.   At bare minimum the espresso should be served with cup, saucer, and spoon.  The rating increases in value when the espresso is served with a seltzer water, biscuit or chocolate wafer; even a lump of sugar.  Once we were served with an artfully coiled lemon rind, sugar cube, and seltzer water; it was a delightful presentation that added aesthetic value to the overall ceremonial experience.

Essences

  • Visual – A crema having an opaque velvety consistency with some fine reddish marbling is our preference.   A reddish brown hue is particularly desired for coloration.  It is traditionally preferred to not have large or small bubbles visible.
  • Aromatic – Fragrances of spices, fruits, flowers, nuts, chocolate and others can make up the bouquet of the aroma.  The scent should be a pleasant foreshadow to the taste of the shot.
  • Flavor – A robust flavor enlivened from the initial acidity to the sugary tones of the finish.  It should be composed of the unique and pleasant characteristics that may come from a particular blend.  The flavor should provide a lasting sweetness.  One should not be left with a sour taste
  • Tactile –  A somewhat viscous character that flows smoothly across the tongue and palette and distributes the flavor uniformly is desired. The Crema is especially prized when it is consistent, thick and has stamina.

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