Last month I scoffed at a National Restaurant Association survey showing that espresso was “hot” among restaurant trends. In order for an item to be “hot”, isn’t it a pre-requisite that restaurants should at least be half-way competent at it?

In today’s news, the “NRA” announced a presentation at the annual hotel-motel restaurant convention this May that promises to help attendees “discover how to ride the espresso lane to bigger profits”: Drinks Media Wire – Andrew Hetzel of Cafemakers Proves Coffee is Hot at the 2007 National Restaurant Show. Apparently the restaurant business model here is to first make tons of money on espresso. And then maybe try to figure out what it takes to make a decent espresso. (Cafemakers is one among hundreds of coffee consultancies out there — with no clients in the S.F. area, btw.)

Oh, I’ve ridden that espresso lane alright. You pay a Golden Gate Bridge-sized toll for the privilege of crashing and burning down a muffler-ejecting strip of potholes: stale, pre-ground beans; overextracted “Mt.-Etna-in-torrential-downpour” flavor; clueless restaurant owners who cannot be bothered with machine maintenance and employee training…

It is worth noting that the top-rated restaurant espresso on is from A-16 with a respectable 13th place showing. So I suppose it is possible. But only if the restaurant cares about more than just the profit margins — which will only be fleeting.