Random Posts

Some like it hot


Yesterday I was steaming. The drinks I was serving at my café apparently weren’t.

Please don’t get me wrong, there were, as there always is, some very lovely people in the place where I make coffee, such as regular TAMWAM (Take Away Medium White Americano) guy holding open doors when I was emptying bins. Or the guy who always tries to make me run his weekend charity race (I will!) making me smile as he ordered exactly the same thing again. Or the morning man laughing at me for forgetting he doesn’t take sugar. (My alarm goes off at 5.15, I was tired and I hadn’t had a coffee yet.) But let’s be honest, working in the service sector you do come across some very fussy customers and sometimes they can be hard to handle. Are customers always right? That certainly is a hot topic.

Being a trained barista serving artisan coffee, I am used to making people exactly the drink that they want. From decaf skinny hazelnut flat caps and soy hot chocolate (with syrup instead of powder) to espresso ristretto and regular lattes; I cover it all. But there is one request that I find difficult to deal with. “Extra hot.”

I don’t want to generalise, but lady, if you read this, what really is your obsession with the ”extra hot”? It will BURN YOUR TONGUE!

Good coffee shops serve their milk-based coffees at 64 degrees Celsius (or between 60 and 70) because that is when the coffee/milk mixture tastes the best. Go above 80 degrees and the milk will taste burnt and nasty (http://coffeeinfo.wordpress.com/best-milk-temperature-for-caffe-latte-or-cappuccino/). It won’t be worth the £2.50 someone is paying for their cup.

But fine, some like it hot and so to meet this challenge I preheat the cups by filling them with boiling water and leaving them on the side before I go on to extract the espresso shots and steam the milk. I leave the steam arm in the milk jug way longer than I normally would and I am keeping my fingers well off the sizzling metal surface. Milk temperature is close to 80 degrees but not above because I don’t want my customer to have a disgusting tasting coffee. If that was what I wanted I’d just give them directions to the closest tax dodging coffee house.

But for some people this still isn’t good enough. I’ll give you an example.

The other day I was pouring the hot water out of the cups and into the sink behind the counter when someone accidentally bumped into me (we are a busy shop) and I burnt my hand whilst doing so. Swearing under my breath, I continued to make the coffees for a notoriously difficult customer, topping them off with rosetta latte art and serving them with a smile. The red mark on my hand was killing me because I hadn’t put it under cold water, yet the response I got was chilling.

“They’re luke warm.”

Customer always right? I’d say some need to simmer down.

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