Coffee Savviness Ratings

Or: What Do They Know About Coffee Anyway?

Savvy is a measure of an establishment's awareness of and commitment to quality espresso-making. Do they seriously understand and care about coffee and the coffee business, or are they only serving coffee because it's expected of them? Are they passionate about what makes a good espresso - and the ingredients, equipment, and techniques necessary to achieve it?

Two establishments across the street from each other with the same coffee bean sources and equipment can differ dramatically in espresso quality. The more espresso-savvy establishment will often stand out because of better training, awareness, standards, and/or machine service.

One classic indicator of an American establishment with a low level of espresso savvy: the accompanying lemon peel. Many high-end restaurants are guilty of this, and no Italian visiting America understands why we do it.

Dr. Ernesto Illy - chemist, espresso connoisseur, and chairman of Trieste, Italy based Illycaffe - cites the use of lemon peel as one of his biggest pet peeves. He notes that the oil from a lemon peel is typically used to neutralize the bitterness of over-roasted coffee and/or an over-extracted espresso. By serving espresso with a lemon peel, an establishment is effectively suggesting that their espresso is faulty and needs chemical additives to taste properly!