I [Faith] was going over some of the web reviews for Spruce Street Espresso and I came across this on home-barista.com:
by godlyone on Thu Apr 30, 2009 7:06 pm
The people working were very pleasant, but the espresso and technique was a little disappointing.
At Spruce st the woman working the espresso machine was very nice and I chatted a little coffee with her, but when I commented on the espresso being kind of bitter she said “can’t please everyone.” Although this is true, it’s not the best comment to make to a customer – needless to say, I won’t be going there anytime soon.
At Love & Madmen, the macchiato I had was a little bitter (better than spruce st. IMO), and when I commented on this, the barista offered to make me a nother shot – VERY Nice of her (shows cutomer satisfaction comes first). The second shot was less bitter, but still slightly so.
I talked coffee a bit with the barista and she was generally knowledgeable, but not an “expert.” She wasn’t aware of terms such as basket, naked portafilter, updosing, etc.
I asked her why she whacked the portafilter on the counter really hard after tamping and she said it was taught that way by counter culture reps. I asked her to make 2 shots – 1 with whacking and one without, but she didn’t want to (I understand, I was being a really annoying customer, but I was trying to teach her a little [which may in some people’s minds not be the right thing to do] )
Another thing to note is that both shops leveled the coffee and both were several steps on top of La Colombe.
However, neither shop comes close to chestnut hill (I know I sound like I work there, but really am just an extremely satisfied customer). Chestnut hill wins on both technique and coffee knowledge. No matter the topics, the baristas there have an opinion and an interest.
Needless to say, even though my friends think I’m crazy, I will take that 30 min train ride to chestnut hill (yeah, it’s that good!).
I’m going to bring a few friends next week to try to change their minds that all ‘spro is bitter.