Jet Fuel

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HB
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#1: Post by HB »

A few weeks ago I participated in a taste-testing of a new espresso blend for Counter Culture Coffee. Afterward Peter Giuliano and I talked about how a good cupper leads the evaluation of a coffee. For example, he noted the importance of avoiding negative statements (e.g., "It tastes bitter") because it invariably encourages more griping about what tasters don't like. The natural tendency to respond in negative taste terms is rooted in survival. We innately avoid many harmful substances simply because they taste unpleasant and as a happy consequence we live longer.

This primordial instinct is readily apparent in infancy. Most babies spit out anything that isn't immediately familiar and have to be taught to accept a wider range of foods in small increments. As we age, tastes we rejected as children become the elements of our most prized foods and drinks. Many "adult" drinks have bitterness that youngsters shun.

Peter thus suggested that all "negative" characterizations be put off until the end of discussion. The leader's responsibility is to clarify and amplify the participants' comments. If a taster says "I taste fruit," the leader asks "Which one?" If they reply "berries," the leader asks "Blueberry, raspberry, or cherries?" and so on.

This evening I was pondering Peter's advice. Somehow my thoughts turned to the polarity of our memories, that is, the tendency to remember most vividly the best and worse moments of our lives. Next I mused about Abe's thread The Best Shot You've Ever Had. And this led to my memories of...

The Worse Cappuccino I've Ever Had
February 2004

Where do I begin? If latte artist David Schomer were condemned to an eternity of torment at Satan's newly remodeled Burning Fires of Hell Cafe, the lady from Jet Fuel in Toronto would surely be the head barista serving him "cappuccinos" on the hour until the end of time. On the surface, the place had attitude in the positive sense. A Faema E61 Legend four group machine and a display of heavy lever Gaggias boded well for a real experience. Not wanting to risk two iffy straight espressos in one day, I played it safer (?) with a milk-based drink. The person behind the counter let rip on a pitcher of milk with screeching that audibly demonstrated the true origins of the cafe's name. Then she proceeded to scoop the airest, driest foam possible into a large beer pint glass.

Hmm-m, I figured this was her misguided way of recovering from a horribly gashed attempt at microfoam. I mean, you're not going to put that stuff in what I'm supposed to drink, right? Oh no, more was to come... she dumps more milk into the pitcher and repeats the same sequence -- three times. :-o

She then pours a shot overtop the frothy head of bubbles. At first I thought it was a cruel joke she metted out to American tourists. Alas we watched later in stunned bewilderment as she prepares drink after drink in this same twisted fashion. Oh poor citizens of Toronto, you have my deepest sympathies. I hope never to be faced again with such a horrid concoction. This establishment was a true poster child for everything that can possibly be done wrong to frothed milk. I kid you not, this drink would be the equivalent of pouring a warm ale from a height of three feet into a glass. I've been served (and inexplicably agreed to pay for) some bad cappuccinos, but Jet Fuel will remain etched in my mind as the cafe which established the low point of my cappuccino-drinking days.
Dan Kehn

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another_jim
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#2: Post by another_jim »

I hate to admit this, but I used to foam up that eggwhite stuff myself before I knew any better. Pouring in the espresso over it actually helps, since it wets the foam. It would have been even worse if she had just put the dried out milk foam on top of the espresso

King Seven

#3: Post by King Seven »

I was over in Toronto earlier this month and I popped in for a quick drink (someone on CG recommended it, as well as Bulldog - which was pretty good).

It was terrible. Someone from the shop had posted on the web saying they do art so I asked and they said yes and I waited.

Eurgh! Very strong coffee (I felt sick afterwards, which is saying something for a man who once had 25 espressos in an afternoon - that was a learning experience) and the milk hot and thin with evil foam on top.

Oddly enough - no art.

Even stranger - no tip from me.

Shame really.