Savvy eaters know that discovering great restaurants sometimes means following the best chefs after hours. But while Eric Ripert can turn a late-night-snack spot into an overnight sensation, would you trail your favorite top-notch barista to their go-to cafe after they finish a shift? Three baristas share their favorite spots.
'baristas' on Serious Eats
A professional barista does more than just prepare a cup of espresso. Here's what the dedicated "coffee sommelier" learns to give customers the best coffee experience.
Artisan coffee has flown south and landed on the beautiful shores of Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands. The Brasserie Market, a streamlined café geared towards the expat business people of the island's capital George Town, happily welcomed Barrington Coffee (BCRC) to its new home away from home. Barrington, located in the Berkshires in Massachusetts, is a true independent roaster consisting of eight employees and has been passionately roasting coffee since 1993. Owner of The Brasserie Market, Lisa Flowers, hired me to train her staff and act as her official consultant on anything coffee.
Fewer than 20 of these fancy espresso machines exist at coffee shops. One barista walks us through the experience of using The Slayer (much better name than The Impaler and The Beheader, no?) to see if it's worth all the fuss.
It might be the largest Starbucks I've ever seen—or at least it appeared to be. As the first LEED-certified store in the company, the intention is to pave the way for future locations. In typical down-home coffee shop style, they offer drinks "to stay." No prices on the menu board means you should come with at least five dollars and cross your fingers. Employees encourage a cup of Clover-crafted coffee, made with small batch beans ground to order and miraculously prepared to enhance the flavor profile.
Espresso is not all art and perfection. It can be hellish and frustrating when shots change speed at the drop of the hat, causing that delicious dark crema to turn to watery dirt with no warning. It's all part of the relationship with the manual espresso machine.