How do fancy restaurants make their coffee?

Discuss flavors, brew temperatures, blending, and cupping notes.
Smith

Postby Smith » Apr 04, 2019, 12:15 am

Not sure, If anyone else knows what I am talking about...but for whatever reason it seems like every fancy restaurant I've been to has good coffee, but a very different cup of coffee from anything I've made at home or got at a cafe. I'm thinking of that super smooth, low acidity, slightly sweet cup. Contrasted with a pourover or even a big batch brew at a specialty shop it doesn't have the same level of complexity -- but it is extremely drinkable. Are they sneaking in some other ingredient to smooth out the coffee, or are they doing something weird while brewing?

Does anyone else know what I'm talking about, or am I just crazy?

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another_jim
Team HB

Postby another_jim » Apr 04, 2019, 12:34 am

It's a good observation. Many restaurants, even good ones, have poor coffee; but when they do not, they tend to be like you describe. In this, restaurants are more traditional than cafes and home coffee lovers. They serve what used to be called "after dinner" or "demi-tasse" blends. The classic recipes are medium-light to medium roasted South American, Ethiopian, or East Afrcian coffees, combined with medium-dark to dark roasted Indonesian coffees. This produces a heavy bodied, sweet, low acid coffee with very complex caramels and dry distillates, but not much of a top end. If you go to a good Viennese cafe, this is what you'll get, since they invented the style.

Cafes and hobbyists, in their brewing, tend to favor a style that began in the Baltic and North Sea countries, using lighter roasted Central American and East African coffees where the complexity is all in the acidity carrying flavors, so you get a drink more reminscent of wines.

Italian espresso began as an inexpensive mass market coffee, so the actual coffees used were, in most cases, not close to either of these two. When espresso caught on as a up market drink, the initial blends were more like the Viennese, after dinner blends. Recently, however, they have transitioned to the light roasted high acid style.

But most affluent people know little about coffee, and are not into the latest trends; so good restaurants are much better off serving the tried and true old school Viennese recipes.
Jim Schulman
★★ Quite Helpful

chipman

Postby chipman » Apr 04, 2019, 1:06 am

Many fine dining restaurants couldn't care less about their coffee. Many use Nespresso or other pod machines.

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guijan12

Postby guijan12 » Apr 04, 2019, 8:04 am

I was in restaurant Batelina (Banjole, Pula) in Croatia, last summer.
A fantastic fish restaurant, not with a star, but honourably mentioned in the Michelin guide.

To my surprise, they served the coffee in a Bialetti Moka pot (at that time also my DD).
It was a treat! :D
Regards,

Guido

Moxiechef

Postby Moxiechef » Apr 04, 2019, 8:07 am

Are you talking about drip or espresso?

Espresso? As ChipMan said, most use pods or capsules. Once I tried a La Marzocco Swift(the dual bin and self tamper) and a Rancilio. Training and managing it was beyond a nightmare. Try running an espresso bar with 20 baristas on bar at a time!! Pod/capsules, though they suck, they suck less than fresh beans with a gushing 12 second pour time!

Drip? Bunn or Fetco batch brewers. Most of the time they are not calibrated extremely well. As for the beans, Jim's right, find that super sweet, non-offensive blend that doesn't speak volumes but is just a good brew. Unfortunately, most restaurants never use timers, so depending on when you order your cup, it could be 10 minutes old or 3 hours.

And then there's the restaurants with a passion for it and take it to the next level. But those are few and far between. So much time can be spent on a product that you sell $100 a night of, versus $10,000 a night of food.

Iowa_Boy

Postby Iowa_Boy » Apr 04, 2019, 8:47 am

another_jim wrote:It's a good observation. Many restaurants, even good ones, have poor coffee; but when they do not, they tend to be like you describe. In this, restaurants are more traditional than cafes and home coffee lovers. They serve what used to be called "after dinner" or "demi-tasse" blends. The classic recipes are medium-light to medium roasted South American, Ethiopian, or East Afrcian coffees, combined with medium-dark to dark roasted Indonesian coffees. This produces a heavy bodied, sweet, low acid coffee with very complex caramels and dry distillates, but not much of a top end. If you go to a good Viennese cafe, this is what you'll get, since they invented the style.

Cafes and hobbyists, in their brewing, tend to favor a style that began in the Baltic and North Sea countries, using lighter roasted Central American and East African coffees where the complexity is all in the acidity carrying flavors, so you get a drink more reminscent of wines.

Italian espresso began as an inexpensive mass market coffee, so the actual coffees used were, in most cases, not close to either of these two. When espresso caught on as a up market drink, the initial blends were more like the Viennese, after dinner blends. Recently, however, they have transitioned to the light roasted high acid style.

But most affluent people know little about coffee, and are not into the latest trends; so good restaurants are much better off serving the tried and true old school Viennese recipes.


Really interesting! Jim - what would be some examples of those Viennese blends?
Locally, I have seen a lot of Intelligentsia Black Cat served.

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HB
Admin

Postby HB » Apr 04, 2019, 9:58 am

To our valued membership: Be aware that the OP is a spammer. Other threads of the same question showed up yesterday on Reddit here and Coffee Forums UK here. Normally, I'd delete the thread, ban the user, and move on. But since there's some good discussion, I've only banned the OP.

For those who are wondering why spammers would bother, it's a "soft spam" technique where the poster asks what seems to be a reasonable question, hoping to prompt a discussion. A few weeks later, they return and edit their post to include a "payload" link to the site they wish to promote in search rankings (e.g., an e-commerce site who's paid them for incoming traffic). This strategy often flies under the radar of typical moderating oversight since the payload link isn't included in the original post.
Dan Kehn

pizzaman383

Postby pizzaman383 » Apr 04, 2019, 10:15 am

Iowa_Boy wrote:Really interesting! Jim - what would be some examples of those Viennese blends?
Locally, I have seen a lot of Intelligentsia Black Cat served.

I , too, want to know of some examples.
Curtis
LMWDP #551

Phaedrus

Postby Phaedrus » replying to pizzaman383 » Apr 04, 2019, 10:25 am

Me three. And thank you spammer (and Jim of course)! I would have never known about Viennese blends otherwise.

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another_jim
Team HB

Postby another_jim » Apr 04, 2019, 12:15 pm

OK. First off, these coffees are meant to be served at an 8:1 to 12:1 water to coffee brew ratio; think Mochapot or Aeropress, although when I was growing up (Munich, same coffee culture as Vienna), it was filters. The preferred additive is "Schlag," whipped cream or heavy cream.

The classic version is Mocha-Java, which can be any Yemen or Ethiopian in a medium-light and any Indonesian in a medium dark roast. An alternative for the darker roast are Kenyan SL28s or Rwandan bourbons. Gilly's in New York sold a Colombian medium and Kenyan dark version to the mid town hotels; maybe they still do. Guatemalan bourbons, especially Antiguas, can also work for the darker roast, although you'll need on with a heavy body. You are looking for a distinguished roast taste, spicy, caramelly, and complex. If you're into whiskeys and exotic oak aging of all kinds, you'll know what I mean. This means the ideal top end coffee should be mildly fruited, but not very acidic (think of the mash in a whiskey).

There's a small difference between this style and the Seattle espresso blends from the aughts: the espresso had to have a lot of naturals, usually Brazils, to make for the thick crema. I'm guessing a blend of medium light Brazil and medium dark semi-washed Sumatra could go both ways. Black Cat used to be a Seattle style blend, but it's third wave blend now.

The proportions that will work best depend on the power of the lower end. Sumatras are very muscular, and probably only need 25% to 40%. The others are up at 50%. Notice these are always post roast blends and plan your roast batches accordingly. If you single dose, you can mix the coffees for each serving until you have the proportions down.

... I got suckered by a spammer :oops:
Jim Schulman
★ Helpful