|Some proper-looking espresso. Photo: Erin Meister
It can seem like the only thing harder than navigating the labyrinthine menu at a coffee shop is finding one that's worth the hassle. Decoding the signals of a great café isn't always as hard as it may seem: click through for five easy things to look for when trying to determine if unfamiliar territory is the caffeinated friend or foe.
Five signs of a great café -- from silent lattes to barista interrogation -- after the jump.
Ask a barista on duty about the coffee. Can they tell you the name of their roaster, or where the roaster is located? (You'd be surprised how many cafés don't encourage their staff to know these things.) If they pass that test, ask a little about the coffee specifically, like where it's grown or even simply what it tastes like. If the answer is accompanied by an eye roll, hit the bricks.
Sneak a peek at the espresso and coffee-brewing machines. First, are they clean? Then, is there pre-ground coffee sitting around, waiting (and waiting and waiting) to be brewed? Ground coffee loses its flavor quickly, so look for a spot where they grind each batch fresh.
|Messes can mean inattentive baristas (and maybe mediocre coffee). Photo: Erin Meister
Take stock of how java-focused the place is. If coffee seems like an afterthought, is buried on the menu, or is made from "flavored" beans, consider grabbing a Coke instead.
Latte art can be great, but remember: Beware the deceptive rosetta!
|Caveat imbiber. Photo: Erin Meister
What else do you look for in a coffee shop, and what's your favorite haunt like?