26 January 2006

Share your espresso experiences

I travel a lot and stay in hotels fairly often. I also like espresso in the morning. In the US this leads to disappointment more often than not.

Many hotels don't serve espresso, but what really irks me is those that say they do but really don't. Instead they serve some kind of watered coffee drink with foamed milk. It tastes worse than regular coffee to me.

If anyone knows of hotels that serve good espresso please add a comment. Help me -- and all those other espresso lovers out there -- get off to a good start more often!

Please include:
- City
- Name of hotel
- DO or DON'T?

Some of my recommendations:
- DO: Any downtown San Francisco hotel is close to many excellent espresso experiences. I particularly like Cafe Bean on the corner of Sutter and Jones for ambiance as well as espresso.
- DON'T order espresso at the Doubletree in Redmond, WA
- DO order espresso in any Microsoft cafeteria
- DON'T order espresso at the Paris hotel in Las Vegas

Depicted here is an excellent espresso prepared by the Soulard Coffee Garden in St. Louis.

Please share your espresso experiences. Our taste buds thank you!

P.S. Do you see a ghostly face in my espresso or do I have Pareidolia?

Keep in touch! Sign up to get updates and occasional emails from me.

19 comments:

Mario Montero said...

You are Invited to taste a expresso in Guatemala or Costa Rica, the best coffee in the world....:)Did you tasted???...is a Unique experience....
Greetings from Guatemala

Eli said...

Dave, there's no work without caffeine, I'm with you 100%. I've got some vintage espresso machine pics posted on my site. If you see any of these in a hotel, you can be sure your espresso is going to be smooth. Another piece of advice, never buy if you can't see the grinder. It's gotta be freish, right? Always throughly enjoying CommunicationNation from Toronto, Eli...

Rob Poitras said...

The person making it is an important factor in the experience as well. However if they have a bunk process to begin with; then garbage in, garbage out. I can tell you the great spots in the East Bay and some places in Hawaii. Kahala Mandarin on Oahu has great espresso; actually everything there is great.

Anonymous said...

sorry to be picky but the photo isn't an espresso, since an espresso doesn't contain milk.

Anonymous said...

The first think I saw was the face and thought...does this guy have faces following him or what?! Ha, Ha :)

The Sunrise Hotel on the island of Lesvos in Greece....and great personalities too.

I enjoy Communication Nation v.much. Thanks.

Pat said...

DO have espresso in Italy, haha. Illy is one of my favorites. One of my favorite places to go is in the Campo di Fiori in Rome; a small, narrow place with a wooden bar right as you walk in on the right. Had my best Italian breakfast there with perfect espresso and a cornetto.

Ok, back to reality.

dave said...

eli, very nice pics and thanks for visiting!

mario, i hope i get a chance to take you up on that kind offer.

anonymous, i will argue the point -- that it is indeed espresso whether it has milk in it or not.

anyway to me it is. there are as many terms to describe espresso as there are people who make it.

rob -- i agree the person making it has a huge influence on the outcome. primarily: if they make it with care, it tastes better :)

as far as greece and italy, i hope i can get there soon!

anyone have recommendations in phoenix or oaxaca mexico (my next two destinations)?

Jerry Holtaway said...

As the ever-reliable Wikipedia suggests, there are espresso-based drinks such as latte or cappucino, but if you ask for an espresso, there should not be milk in it...or is this a case of 'creative license'"

Wiki
An espresso machine is used to produce the traditionally Italian coffee beverage called espresso.
An espresso machine forces water at 90 °C (195 °F) and 9 bar of pressure through a puck of finely ground coffee. This process produces a rich, almost syrupy beverage by extracting and emulsifying the oils in the ground coffee. An ideal double shot of espresso should take 20-25 seconds to arrive, timed from when the machine's pump is first turned on. This time can be tuned by using finer or coarser ground coffee, and by altering the tamping pressure.
An espresso machine also has a steam wand which is used to steam and froth milk for milk based espresso beverages such as the cappuccino and latte.

Aaron N. Tubbs said...

Aye, if there's milk, it's espresso-based, but not espresso.

I can't speak for hotels, as I've yet to find one with good espresso, but check out Espresso Vivace, Victrola, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, and Ritual Coffee Roasters in your travels along the west coast, and you won't be disappointed. It's worth getting up earlier and hitting these shops in the morning, versus trying to scrape by in a hotel. On the downside, once you've had good espresso made by somebody who cares a few times, you'll cry with stuff from an automatic machine.

Generally the staff in a hotel lack the experience/skill, fresh roasted coffee, or passion to make anything beyond passable espresso.

Catherine said...

Should you ever find yourself "on the road" and driving through Shelburne, in Vermont, you can stop at my brother's shop. Best expresso ever!

http://www.villagewineandcoffee.com/

dave said...

What should I get if I ask for an espresso with milk in it?

brian w. said...

Downtown Buena Vista, Colorado.
I had a fantastic espresso at Bongo Billy's, a little cafe in the downtown area. DO check it out.

---

And in Southeast Denver, Colorado on Evans St., just west of University Blvd, is Kaladi Coffee Company. Fantastic espresso there. Order a shot from the "M3". It costs more, but it's amazing.

Anonymous said...

Macchiato does the job for me: "steamed milk is put into the cup first, and the shots are added on top". (from wikipedia). As for where - Pani's in Newcastle (UK) is a fine cafe run by Italians. Good food, good coffee.

bfelice said...

It used to be that a latte was steamed milk and espresso, and a cappuccino was steamed frothed milk and espresso. (americano is espresso and hot water.) But the times they are a-changing and now if you order a latte you have to beg, specify 'no-foam, dry' and almost everyone still wants to sneak foam in there. I think the mega coffee chain may be behind this.

If you want to go deep into this:
http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=78789&mode=linear

And if you haven't tried it, check out Shaw's coffee on the Hill.
:O)

Anonymous said...

In NA we who are pure espresso drinkers are getting run-over by "baristas" who are brain-washed know nothings!. In the land of the original (Italy): a caffe - is a cup of espresso. No such thing as, to go, or single or double. You get a lovely cup of smooth espresso "un caffe denso e cremoso", without another word being exchanged. I could kill all these pseudo-coffee places that have to ask you ten questions...

A caffe (Espresso) Macchiato is a coffee "marked" with a dollop of milky/foam.

A latte macchiato is mostly warm milk "marked" with a little bit of coffee.
A "caffe latte"..it's TWO words folks if don't want to get the above, is a glass of warm milk with full shot of espresso.

Cappucino - is a smooth rich foamy pouring of whole-milk into a cup of espresso. again no fancy single/double/skinny/skim/balh-blah nonsense. and that's it. No other damm fancy smacy stuff. Oh there is one: and that is the lovely caffe correcto: espresso 'corrected' with a shot of grappa ( or brandy). To be enjoyed during the day or after a meal lunch or dinner.

Now in Vancouver there are some great places that serve Illy Coffee. I can't think of one hotel that serves it right...but there are a couple of places downtown that do it right. Cafe alto off of Davie on Mainland next to the chic boutique hotel, Opus Hotel, and Cafe
Artigiano near the Hotel Vancouver on Georgia and Hornby St. Enjoy.

Aaron Gerdes said...

Since you've mentioned you're headed to Seattle, I'll throw in my .02.

In the Seattle area, Neal Brown produces some amazing espresso beans. The barristas that pull the best shots are at the Cafe Allegro near the university (South location, at the College Inn). Great breakfasts too.

4002 University Way NE Seattle, WA. 206-634-2310

And here's a Google Map.

Seattle don'ts: Starbucks. :)

Joe Brown said...

Here are my favorites:
http://www.communitywalk.com/coffee

Most of it is in Seattle, where I live. But I added a few places in Atlanta & Jerusalem.

dave said...

Thanks Joe!

Pat said...

Help, Dying for a Latte in San Jose Costa Rica.

I am in the land of coffee but I cannot seem to find a latte. Does anyone have any idea where I can get one. The guest house where I am staying serves some bitter, strong brew that reminds me of those evil packets in motel rooms.

Pat (from Oklahoma)