Whereas we’ve written an SF-oriented post on the common cues for recognizing a good or bad espresso, today’s WAtoday (Western Australia) features an article on how to spot a dodgy coffee: Perth’s Best and Worst Coffee.

We’ll simply quote it here:

Mooba Subiaco manager Hannah Cameron told WAtoday.com.au the top five ways customers can see that the coffee you are about to buy is not going to be top quality:

1) Beans are not ground on demand. Good baristas only grind the beans when they are needed. Ground coffee goes off in no time at all, if ground coffee is sitting in the coffee beans dispenser walk away now.

2) The shot is poured out of the machine too fast. A quick coffee is not a good coffee. Don’t be impatient. If your shot gets poured into the cup from the machine in under 10 seconds it won’t be good. The best take 20-40 seconds to filter through the coffee.

3) Don’t buy it if the barista does not use a clean milk jug, if they re-heat milk, add cold milk onto already heated milk and heat again or have a massive milk jug to heat heaps at a time.

4) If the bench is not clean, there are coffee grounds everywhere, the milk wand is caked in milk or anything looks unclean get out now.

5) If their machine looks like you could buy it for $100 don’t bother. Most top-quality Perth baristas use Synessos, the best machines in the world. If your barista used one of these you have a good chance that the final product will be tasty.

All milk-frothing moves with a Synesso need to be accompanied by silky saxophoneThe online version also offers a two-minute video with Ms. Cameron. Plus a soundtrack lifted right out of the hotel cable TV channel at the New Brunswick, NJ Hyatt Regency.

We pretty much agree with all of these points. However, we’d like to add a qualifier to the last one. Using a machine that looks worth about $100 is less of the cause and more of the symptom.

In the right barista hands, we’ve had very good espresso shots pulled from older refurbs or even cheaper machines. The real cue is a place that cares so little about their espresso quality that they cut as many corners as possible. This explains SF’s problem with La Spaziale machines: it’s not the machine that’s the problem, it’s the people who are buying them.