Monday, 10 September 2007

Latte results

Well, I've mostly done it. Over the last week or so, I've been runnng a taste-test of Lattes from the main Brockley cafes* in the name of research and um, something to do. In my Not-Especially-Scientific-And-Completely-Subjective study to sample and rate every latte for sale in Brockley's increasing number of cafes, I used the following methodology:

1. Buy a regular size latte. (Big sizes are just wrong - if I wanted a milkshake I'd go to McDonalds)

2. Look at it. (Is the top smooth, thick and creamy or are we talking bubble baths and full-fat oil slicks?)

3. Taste it. (Is it the rich, freshly-ground bean taste that makes you open your eyes and go 'ahhhh...', or is it that mug of bed-time hot milk with the barest hint of coffee at the bottom - if only you could've stayed awake to reach it)

4. Think about how happy it makes me feel.

5. Rate the overall experience out of 10.

For me, that perfect latte is one where rich, fresh espresso flavours melt and merge into warm (not-too-hot), smooth and creamy (not-too-frothy), milk. When the combination is right, nothing else matters and the world is beautiful. Too often what you get is weak in flavour and over-milky, topped with a few sorry bubbles that sink and disappear into the emerging slick of milk fat just seconds after you've handed over your cash. A good Barista will tell you that the ability to make that perfect latte is literally an art (or should that be l'arte?).

The findings follow, in order of drinking...

Toads Mouth Too: Too much froth and not enough of the coffee taste. 6/10

{Cafe}Neu: Bubbles galore and little coffee taste. £2. Why the {brackets}? 5/10

Broca: A wee bit heavy on the froth and coffee could do with a bit more grunt; but nice price and blended well.£1 (small cup). 7/10

Matchbox (Brockley station): Made with care - great blending. Better coffee beans could bring this up to a ten. Worth missing your train for. £1.55. 8/10

Ecosium: Served me a double but must have meant been double milk. Not even the view of the Post Office could make me drink past the third mouthful. £1.70. 3/10

Brockley Kitchen: No, No, No! A dispenser with a Latte button spitting out brown, white then muddy water, will not do! (But I'm going back to try the breakfast). £1.30. 4/10

Jam Circus: A nicely presented glass of sickly brown milk; I'm feeling really ill. ~£1.70 4/10

Moonbow Jakes: Made with care; sightly over frothed but blended nicely.~£1.25 7/10

Overall, I'd say my Brockley Coffee experience was positive. It really is great to see so many more cafes offering the full range of espresso drinks, and as Matchbox have shown best in this study, making the effort to create that quality drink. In every coffee sampled though, I think there is still room for improvement in the quality and flavour of the beans. The difference in taste when fresh roasted beans are used as they do at Monmouth is what will make that good coffee perfect.

*I know I have left a couple of places out of the test but in all honesty I can't stomach any more milk. I've think I'm becoming lactose intolerant (in addition to being just generally intolerant).

1 comment:

Nick said...

A magnum opus!

Have linked to your story from Brockley Central.