Simple and minimal, but at the same time full of options: It’s the specialty café paradox. Specialty cafés like to keep it basic when it comes to their caffeinated options. The capsule wardrobe of menus, if you will. After all, that is part of the specialty philosophy: appreciating the complexity of a simple, freshly brewed cup of coffee. That’s right, complexity. The vast amount of flavours found in a simple cup.
1. Espresso VS Filter
Pretty straight forward, the main distinction. Now careful, different beans are used for each. If you must absolutely try the Ethiopian, check whether its under the filter or espresso drinks.
2. Home VS Guest Blend
This one is very easy to miss. Some cafés will make it obvious for the customer that they have a home and a guest blend, but this isn’t always the case. Here’s how you know: If they have two or more grinders next to each other, they offer a variety of blends (these are all espresso, beans for the filter are usually ground in a separate grinder). Don’t let the name fool you, a Guest Blend is just a way to say “alternative type of beans”, but it may very well be a single origin.
Forget the “tall” “regular” “venti” jargon. You’re in a proper coffee zone. The fairies behind the counter have gone through hell and back to create the ideal recipe (that includes water:coffee ratio) for each type of coffee and brew method. After all, a cappuccino is called a cappuccino because of that specific coffe:milk ratio. The only acceptable size twist is if you ask for a ristretto or lungo, promise that you wont get a frown in return.
Same concept as “size” applies here. Coffee tastes different at different temperatures, so after a bit of trial and error, the baristas will stick to a certain temperature. That goes to both milk and water temperature. Conclusion? Add “extra hot” to the list of no-nos.
Specialty café’s biggest asset is its people. A group of professionals that have dedicated their lives to making better coffee. Sure, it takes 30 seconds to extract a shot of espresso, but there’s steps involved before pressing that button. Cleaning the porta filter, weighing every shot, rinsing the group head… I could go on. Oh, and if you’re in a hurry, maybe don’t order a pour over.
6. Try something different- the only way to start appreciating different varieties, origins, and brew methods is to keep an open mind. A Kenyan on the V60 might have neither the consistency, nor the flavour profile that you’re accustomed to, but rigid expectations never did anyone a favour.
Specialty’s mission is to promote inclusivity