Knowing the difference between a good and bad espresso can be a curse to many a former barista. Or so says a former barista in today’s Georgia Straight, a popular Vancouver free weekly: Straight.com Vancouver | Best Eating | Locals have much to learn about espresso.

The author writes that, “The espresso, as it is pouring through the machine, should squirt through in 20 to 30 seconds and have three clear features: at the bottom, the dark heart; in the middle, a deep brown body; and at the top, a thick layer of flavourful crema.” All basic stuff. But it gets interesting when she suggests, “a bitter-tasting latte should be sent back.” Who would pay for a corked bottle of wine, right?

The author says she sends back about half of her espresso drinks. It’s a habit I’m going to have to take up more often myself.

Also mentioned in the article is the Canadian National Barista Championships in Vancouver this weekend and an interview with Barrett Jones, an award-winning barista from Vancouver’s Caffé Artigiano — arguably my favorite place for an espresso in North America.