Joined: 28 Mar 2006 Posts: 154 Location: North of Auckland, New Zealand
Posted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 3:29 am Post subject: Bad Coffee?
I've just had a conversation with someone who has recently got back from a tour of Ireland and France, and he insisted that the coffee in France was absolutly terrible and ALL came from a machine rather than being made by a barrista. I tried asking him what sort of places he had been going to, and he said that they had been to many different places all in search of good coffee, but couldn't find a single place. I have to admit I never asked where abouts in France he went...but it struck me and my mum (who lived in France for several years) as being very very odd.
Mum did the classic shrug and said that we are very spoiled here with the quality of coffee...not that she drinks it...but it just sounds so very odd.
Please tell me the quality of coffee in France is not doomed!! I certainly hope not, I was looking forward to a lovely cup of coffee when I *eventually* get there!
EDITED: to fix a spelling mistake, in the process confusing people who make coffee with lawyers who practice in a court...doh!
I'm a recovering coffe addict and I don't drink coffee now , so I'm not the best person to comment...but I remember from my first visit a few years ago (when I was still drinking it) being really disappointed. And all my friends tell me that generally it's not great, often bitter & stale-tasting. An Australian friend noted how in Australia & NZ you often hear the beans being ground freshly throughout the day. You never hear that same sound in the cafés here. Possibly we are spoilt with the quality of coffee down-under?
Of course there are exceptions, and those cafés, once found, are really well frequented. When I was studying full-time in the 6th I'd go with the coffee drinkers in search of their morning coffee, and we tried 6 different places in the few blocks around our school before finding the one café they were happy with. At least in Paris you are never stuck for choice!
Joined: 29 Sep 2004 Posts: 97 Location: Paris, France
Posted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 9:36 am Post subject:
As with most things, personal tastes differ, and I have had as much bad & good coffee here as in the U.S. It seems to be the norm to start off with already ground coffee, (but according to Peet's coffee experts, that on it's own is not a bad thing). I have ONLY seen coffee being made in the "barrista" mode, i.e. one cup at a time, pressed through an espresso machine. The machine, the water, the type and amount of coffee in the espresso holder, all seem to make a difference. I have found that Cafés that serve Illy & Richard brands, have great coffee. After you try a few cafés, you are bound to find one that serves good coffee. Then you have to go on the baguette hunt!
Joined: 13 Oct 2006 Posts: 26 Location: Paris and Seattle
Posted: Fri Oct 13, 2006 9:54 am Post subject: It`s the beans, not the grinding
I'm a former coffee addict who drinks it when it is the common local drink or when I'm having a chocolate dessert. Otherwise, it's tea for me.
I grew up in NY, home of Zabars and their giant selection of coffees. When I moved to Seattle, Starbucks was as yet unborn but there were some small roasters there, plus Peet's in SF, to show me what good coffee beans look like and what good coffee should taste like. It wasn't what I was used to from Zabars. In fact, when I visited Zabars later, I realized their beans were generally pretty scrawny and underroasted.
Right now I'm living in Paris for a couple of months. At home, I drink tea from Mariages Frères. When I'm out, it's coffee. I agree that French coffee can often be less than great. Just check out the selection in most supermarkets - pretty grim. Even some of the bruleries beans look pretty pathetic. So in Paris, as elsewhere, the quality varies widely.
As for the grinding ahead issue, this can be somewhat of a tempest in a coffee pot. Freshly roasted beans ground a day ahead and kept in a tight jar can be better than beans sitting in an open bin for weeks and then ground just before brewing. Either way, the quality of the beans and their roasting makes a big difference. On this point, I have to say that I generally had awful coffee in Australia, freshly ground or not. So I stuck with tea there. Admittedly, this was 10 years ago, but I traveled there for two months and covered a lot of territory.
Moreover, I seriously doubt that anyone but a specialist (not me) could tell the difference in an exprès. The dark roast and high temperature extraction will hide subtle differences. This is why so many "French roasts" use cheaper beans. There will be a difference between really old stuff and fresher, and really cheap beans and top quality, but not from whether it was ground minutes or a day before.
How it`s packed in the cup for extraction can make a difference to. That will depend on the server and the machine, too. (I don`t use the Starbucks-invented word "barista").
Joined: 17 Jun 2005 Posts: 185 Location: New Orleans Louisiana
Posted: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:33 pm Post subject:
I must admit I enjoyed every single cup of coffee i had the three weeks I was there @ CHristmas such much in fact, that I have commented upon the uniform enjoyment to my coffee friends here in New Orleans (America's first coffee City ...we have been importing, and roasting beans a good century before those Johnny-come-latelys in Seattle laid claim to the title)
Tastes in coffee can vary both , individually and regionally, but I cannot say that I had a single cup that came close to the truly lousy mud you can get if not careful here
Randysea I agree that careful roasting of quality (or well blended) beans is the key....I have been to chain coffee houses famous for the almost zen tea ceremony like ritual they employ to each cup only to find that I thought the coffe had a burnt taste, probably due to the beans being "tipped" ie burnt on the inside... _________________ I would like a gin martini, straight up, olives on the side, as dry as my wit, as clean as my conscience.
and... as cold as my heart!!!!
I had been there two months ago visiting my relatives. They served Javaberry. It was indescribable. I drink coffee very often (may be too often), prefer only best brands and it's hard to impress me. But it was really good. This taste just had lured me to infinity. So noble and rich...
So I think bad coffee there is just a myth.
Joined: 28 Mar 2006 Posts: 154 Location: North of Auckland, New Zealand
Posted: Tue Nov 14, 2006 11:51 pm Post subject:
Having reflected on my discussion with him, I think I've worked out why he considered the coffee to be so bad...either that or he just lucked out big time or he just has whack/bad tastebuds Either way, he wasn't too keen to elaborate when I was asking questions, and I got the impression he just wanted to whine.
In New Zealand and Aussie, I know coffee has come a looooong way in the last 10 years or so, so I suspect we may be a bit spoiled. People are extremely willing to pay for very good quality coffee. Also, most coffee in cafes tends to be made by barrista's.
Having said that, we tend to drink coffee with milk, something I'm trying to wean myself off, but I wonder if this was a problem. I know milk in coffee isn't popular unless you're drinking cafe au lait.
Joined: 22 Oct 2006 Posts: 296 Location: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: Wed Nov 15, 2006 1:27 am Post subject:
If it's not too late to put in my two cents (pence? centimes? whatever)... I've lived in France twice (once in Paris and once in Tours, and have travelled around the country quite a lot) and I can honestly say that I only ever had one bad coffee... in Le Cafe La Nuit in Arles, and I'm sure that was because the people who run the place know they can get away with it as there will always be a steady stream of Van Gogh geeks (like moi ) coming in to gawk and soak up the atmosphere. I've always had good luck with coffee in Paris, and that's one of the things I most look forward to whenever I go.
That said, I have two Italian friends in Paris with whom I usually stay, and they'll both swear until they're blue in the face that you can't find decent coffee in Paris! So who knows... I think a lot of it comes down to what you're used to!
Rachel, I agree with you - maybe it is what you're used to, what you think is good coffee, and possibly luck of the draw in the cafés that you chance upon.
Since this debate started I've talked with a lot of people, and French friends (admittedly, all who have travelled) have told me that the coffee in France is not the best they've tasted. Certainly all my foreign friends in Paris (mainly Italians and Australians) talk about the struggle to find good coffee. And having just come back from Italy where I drank coffee (a rare occasion), all I can say is that that really is good coffee!
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