After having taken a couple of fantastic coffee voyages, I'm pretty sure I know exactly how I'd set up my ideal caffè- right down to the big black square-rimmed glasses each barista would be forced to wear (if they wear glasses; eh, even if they don't). The most important criteria to evaluate, for me, would be the name, location, equipment, décor, and product selection. I'll spend some time going over the second and third items for today.
The location of my caffè is going to be the best indicator of its success. I'd like to situate my storefront in an area where I'd know the patrons really enjoy the pomp and circumstance of foodstuffs. Perhaps an area where there are a lot of wine-tastings per capita. Unfortunately, for as many coffee snobs as I'd attract, I'd also like to attract people that are just looking for a good cup of coffee. So, rather than hit them in the suburbs, I'd hit them where they work. Generally, this means downtown, where there's a diverse client base and a lot of foot traffic. I think I might seek out a commercial space located in a hotel that's perhaps near some professional schools or a hospital. I like the idea of having hotel patrons spending all of their leisurely moments at Caffè DPABLO19. Think about it... There's always some overnighters looking for coffee, and since they're from out of town, they can spread the word. I'd be world renowned.
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Speaking of renowned, my equipment would have to match my grandiose vision. I'm gonna geek out in this section because, for once, it's warranted. For drip, I'd set up a pour over station with several Chemex models on display. I'm a huge fan of how well-made their products are, although I would have gone with Hario if my vac pot hadn't had some serious issues. Speaking of Hario, I very much liked the specialized kettle I saw at Blue Bottle's kiosk in NYC. This Hario product would probably be my first choice, too. There are some issues with using a kettle, namely temperature stability. However, I think this can be avoided by simply using a thermometer. As a grinder, I'd be most comfortable using the Ditting because of their exceptionally large burrs and reliability. Mahlkonig is also an option here, although I've had a number of barista friends complain about their large commercial grinders (the VTA series in particular). Since Ditting and Mahlkonig are basically the same company, I can't really go wrong.
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For espresso, things get complicated. I'm partial to Mazzer for grinders because of their parts availability. The absolute top-of-the-line Mazzer is the Robur-E with its exceptionally large conical burrs (71 mm) and easy interface. I've gotten to see one in action in a caffè setting, so I know that just about any barista can pull a good to exceptional shot using this grinder. Personally, using my new (as in new to me; also known as very old and used) Mazzer Major, I've yet to experience a bad shot even though all the variables were off (tamp pressure, distribution, temperature, etc...). I'm sure the Robur is even better. I also like the lack of mess when using Mazzer's doserless funnels. As for an espresso machine, I want something beautiful. Forget functionality (my baristas are gonna be well-programmed robots). It needs to be the ridiculous centerpiece that makes all the bridesmaids jealous. On my Stumptown visit, I saw a Kees Van Der Westen for the first time in person, and it was that level of glamour I'd be looking for.
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The rest of the caffè will have a tough time matching up with the splendor of Kees's machinery...
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