But tonight's entry isn't about Cafe Kado. I was out for ice cream with my youngest son as a reward for good behavior today. My wife suggested I take him to a new ice cream shop a few miles away "right next to a new cafe called It's a Grind." Lately I've been squirreled away at the office or home office and hadn't notice this new row of restaurants and shops; it sounded like a great idea.
The ice cream store and cafe are side-by-side. If you need wireless access, the Grind prominently advertises that they're your hot spot. It's a narrow shop with nicely decorated interior. A case of pastries fronted by curved glass greets you within the first 10 feet of the door, followed by a three group Faema. I peered around the corner to check it out. My son was far less subtle, skirting the "no fly zone" behind the counter to look up at the espresso machine (he commented, "Wow! That is really big!"). The barista politely shooed him away.
- "So, who is your roaster?" I queried.
"We're a chain and roast our own. It's microroasted to assure freshness. It's not burnt coffee like some other chains," she confided.
"Cool. So what kind of espresso machine is this? Is it an HX?" I posed as a trick question.
"What's that?" (red flag number 1)
"It means it's a heat exchanger. Do you flush before each extraction?" I offer helpfully. She nods and my hopes rise.
This conversation took place while I was in clear view of the working side of the three group, but I had to excuse myself for a moment to stop my spinning offspring before something got broken. By the time I returned, she already had locked and loaded, drawing the double into two small stainless steel pitchers instead of directly into the demitasse (red flag number 5). As we watch the blond, thin stream finish at 21 seconds (red flag number 6), she asks, "Are you in the coffee business?" I murmur something about a consumer website on coffee, nothing specific, as thoughts of how to politely pass on the espresso swirl in my mind. I think she may have heard me muttering about underextraction and incorrect temperatures because after she transfers the contents of the two pitchers into the demitasse, she comments that it looks better than the whitish color of most pours (red flag number 7). I recoil at the thought that this woeful sample represents a pleasant surprise for her, an extraction that on appearance alone would be rushed to the sink at my place.
Why why why... hope springs eternal, maybe it's not as bad as it looks. Indeed, it wasn't the absolutely worse espresso to pass by my lips, but it would share company with the major disappointments: Thin, slightly sour, hints of ash and wet cardboard. The barista hurried to other tasks moments after handing me the demitasse. She was nowhere to be found and my impatient charge was tugging at my arm asking for ice cream. I placed two dollars under the saucer and left the drink on the counter next to the cash register, to all appearances untouched.
Chris said it well:
My wife had no patience for my story this evening, simply saying "You're always disappointed. Why do you bother?" I protested there's a couple cafes in the city I like... and at least the ice cream next to It's Swill was very good (cappuccino chocolate chip and "Superman" multi-colored ice cream for about six bucks).Psyd wrote:I still tell folk that if they prefer the grocery store bin coffee then they have my sincere, green-eyed monster jealousy. Oh, to be back in the day when I could fall in love with a grocery store bean out of my Krups steamtoy. Life was much simpler then, and I loved my shots out of that thing as much as I love my shots out of the Astoria. I like the Astoria shots much better now, I just didn't have it then...