Saturday, April 24, 2010

Fit For A King???

A "cappuccino" at King's Road Cafe.

The other morning, Marianne was telling me about her favorite coffee spots: Intelligentsia Silver Lake and King's Road Cafe. Hmmm, never heard of the latter before but then it came up in a couple of conversations this week as we were looking at locations, so I decided that I should go and check it out.

King's Road is a cafe with a food menu that looks pretty good, but they've got a reputation for coffee so I decided to order up my usual: cappuccino. I was a brave soul.

Sadly, there's no way to relate the event without sounding disparaging. Over the years, I've discovered certain tell-tale signs that cause me to not order, or order iced tea instead. Unfortunately, King's Road has all the tell-tale signs in spades.

As I stood there waiting for the couple in front of me to order (there was only three of us), I couldn't quite process just what that high-pitched whine was that didn't stop. It sounded like an espresso grinder, but it never stopped. That's right when the barista reached over the grinder to click it off - leaving a dosing hopper full of quickly staling ground coffee.

Choice of espresso machines is also a sign of how serious a shop takes their craft and product. Brasilia espresso machines are almost a guarantee of mediocrity. Then there were the crusty 32z milk steaming pitchers which the barista refilled by adding cold milk to whatever was leftover in the pitcher.

I could go on but to what end? My 12z cappuccino was about 4z of overextracted and burnt espresso and 8z of milk foam. Disgusting. One of the worst coffees I've had in years. It was so bad I threw it out and guzzled water to cleanse my palate.

The barista was nice enough. Friendly, no attitude and even poured a little latte heart on the couple's latte. He seemed like a good person, just a person who's been led down the path of craft 1995. It's disappointing to see cafes remain mired in the mediocre methods of old.

In a way, it's kind of sad. In another way, it's textbook study of what not to do as a barista. I'd write more about the poor practices I observed, but it hurts too much.

1 comment:

Wayne Alan Brenner said...

Ah, that's one of the main reasons I'm following this blog: You not only KNOW about coffee, you give a shit about it.

Glad to be miles & miles away from such a travesty as King's Road. Although I'm sure Austin (and, well, everywhere) is lousy with similar obstacles to good beverage, too ...