A good café and how to recognize it [customer manual]

Awareness of good and quality gastronomy is increasing among the Czech public. Gastronomy is interesting and fun. Czechs are learning to cook, to discover new tastes and to seek out quality products. Zdeněk Pohlreich is probably the best-known ambassador of quality gastronomy in this country. His popular shows such as Yes, Chef! have taught the Czechs how to eat, cook and choose good food from good restaurants. In the same way, we should want good coffee in a good café.


You must have already found your favourite place with good coffee in your area. But how do you choose a café to visit without fear of disappointment, for example on a trip, on holiday or on a business trip, just somewhere you don't know? You might think to ask the locals or those who have already visited such a place. Nowadays, you can easily find this information on the internet, so you can already pick out specific cafes to visiton the way.


Mobile apps and websites that focus on sharing the experience of visiting dining establishments not only in the Czech Republic, but also around the world, can help you get a sense of what your visit to such a café might be like. The most well-known is the search engine Tripadvisor. You type in what city you want to visit a café or restaurant in and the app will immediately list themost popular establishments in that location. However, a popularity ranking doesn't necessarily mean the quality of a business' product and service. Usually, the businesses that rank best ontripadvisor are those that are sort ofaverage in quality.

Just like in Google reviews and Facebook reviews, the reviewers are all those who have visited the place, but feel free to include those who haven't. Therating of gastro-businesses in these popularity comparators is determined by the average satisfaction of everyone. For example, the café with the lowest drink prices and the largest portion of whipped cream for desserts may be the best café in a given location. You won't know right away that the coffee is undrinkable without sugar and the desserts are full of artificial stabilizers.


You'll get a quality review from a quality reviewer, someone who is knowledgeable about the quality of café service. You can askexperts or knowledgeable fans of good coffee on the internet at for advice on where to go. Most of them can be found on social media, for example in the Facebook group Passionate Coffee Lovers.


Perhaps the greatest guide to the Czech coffee scene is Lukáš Hejlík's Gastromap. It is available online, also as a mobile app, or you can buy it as a printed book. During his travels around the Czech Republic, Lukáš Hejlík has visited as many cafés as he has managed in his lifetime. In his gastromap he presents those that really caught his eye and should put a smile on your face when you visit them.


In case you go looking for good coffee shops abroad,European Coffee Trip will help you . This Czech-made project will guide you on your travels through European cities and advise you where you must go for a coffee.


When you want to discover places with good coffee on your own, apart from the look of the café, look for things that will tell you whether you should order coffee there at all. Try to peekbehind the curtain a little. That way you can gauge how the locals feel about coffee. So what should you look for?

The first sign, and what you'll notice as soon as you walk in, is the coffee itself. Some cafes have the roaster's logo prominently displayed on the outside of the cafe, so you can see from a distance if you can expect a quality selection of coffee. Unless they are a cafe focused on just one roaster, don't be afraid to ask the staff what kind of coffee they haveright after you greet them .


Get the answer, "we have good coffee," right away so you know where you stand. Ask about the roaster, but also ask about the origin and processing method. A good café has good coffee and knows it. It takes pride in its coffee. It is not a necessary raw material for it, but the main product. A good barista knows why, how and what he works with. That's why he is able to answer your question right away and introduce you to the coffee on the grinder. This creates confidence in the quality of the result and can motivate you to order right away.

If the coffee shop attendant is stumped on what to answer and all he knows is that he has coffee, beans in a slightly better version of "we have this... arabica and it's mixed... with this... well, with this other... robusta", then you'd better have a lemonade or go one house away. A barista who doesn't know what coffee he's working with probably doesn't know how to work with it or care for it. The result is likely to be burnt and ungood coffee, as long as there's plenty of it in the cup. This is how the typical Czech "pool" is sold, a kind of "preso" that has nothing to do with quality coffee. Well, maybe just the porcelain cup.


Good coffee is created under the hands of a skilled barista using quality beans roasted from a selection of coffees, withthe right preparation procedures and with the help of appropriate coffee technology. This process, like the entire coffee business, is closely linked to hygiene. Cleanliness is the key to gauging how much the café staff care about their work, the coffee and therefore you, their guest.


When we talk about the cleanliness of a coffee shop as a sign of quality coffee, not cleaning the dishes from the table after the previous customer left a moment ago is not a sin on cleanliness and thus on the quality of the coffee. This operational mess is understandable, especially at peak times, and the café staff will rectify it in no time. Rather,focus on cleanliness during the coffee making process - so look at thecoffee machine. The two most common signs of unhygienically prepared and thus poor quality coffee are:

  • a dirty steam nozzle on the coffee machine
  • a wet cloth used over the coffee machine, which dries on clean cups

Awell-trained barista alwayswipes the steam nozzle after whisking milk and keeps it clean all day. This is because he is well aware of the hygiene principles and the health-threatening consequences of old milk deposits on the nozzle. The same principles do not allow him to spread used dirty cloths on clean cups intended for the preparation of coffee for guests.


Inaddition to the coffee machine, the barista keeps clean and uses other aids for coffee preparation. Try to notice if the local barista even has a tamper and a coffee tamping pad on the work surface, or if he or she is strangely tamping the coffee in the lever with some plastic substitute on the corner of the bar. A professional barista will always require professional tools to do their job. If he doesn't need it, neither will his resulting coffee be the professional product you want to pay for.


Finally ,looking not only at the café and the staff, but also at the guestswill help you make your decision . Look at what they have on the table. Do you see a latte in a glass half made up of dry milk foam and the bottom part playing with all the colours, due to the flavouring of the coffee with different coloured syrups? That's probably not the right cafe for a coffee "connoisseur" like you. But if you see a beautiful cappuccino with microfoam and preferably decorated with latte art technique , you win and you can order.