Another Confession of an ex-Barista

I don’t always drink the best of coffee. There, I’ve said it. While I’ve been a barista and I know better, I still don’t buy the most expensive coffee or head to the best espresso places.

The truth is that good coffee is (and should be) expensive when it’s done right. Good espresso is expensive, training baristas is expensive, and having consistently good drinks is expensive. When you see advertisements for a fifty cent cappuccino, chances are pretty good that you’re getting what you pay for.

And sometimes, that’s okay by me.

In truth, the coffee that I have in my cupboard right now cost less than $10 for the canister and it’s already pre-ground. I don’t make myself lattes every day (though I am planning on changing that habit with a new espresso machine once I find one that suits my picky needs and financial limitations). I use generic coffee creamer in my coffee as well as an herbal sweetener to add to the flavor.

That’s right; I’m your everyday coffee drinker. But knowing what I know allows me to make better choices wherever I happen to be. For example, if I’m not sure how good a place’s espresso is, I tend to order a latte. This allows even the sharpest and lowest quality espresso to be diluted by the milk, making it generally palatable.

I will avoid anything that requires more precision cappuccinos, brewed coffee, espresso shots. I will also avoid anything that has a flavoring in it, as these tend to be very sweet in places that aren’t familiar with making coffee properly and drinking these kinds of drinks will either put you in a sugar coma or will end up being thrown away after a sip or two.

Now, this isn’t to say that I don’t have good espresso from time to time. In fact, I’ve been pleasantly surprised more often than not. Many smaller coffee shops with lower prices are creating great cups of latte and mocha, but you just need to have faith and hope for the best.

On a typical morning, I really drink plain old automatic drip coffee. But this everyday habit makes those special espresso drinks all the more delicious to my refined palate. And still, I long for the kind of espresso machine that my old coffee house used to have but at $10,000, it’s not ending up on my kitchen counter just yet.