So this week I'm nominating Caffè Nero for a cup of coffee so utterly failsome I don't think someone with a kettle and frieze-dried coffee could do worse. What's even more annoying is that this kiosk has a La Marzocco machine. La Marzocco are widely held to be one of the most competent coffee machine manufacturers in the world, so much so in fact it's La Marzocco's machines that are used for the World Barista Championships.
So why was it so bad? Well in this case the coffee tasted foul because the machine's not being cleaned properly. Coffee oils go rancid very quickly which means you've got carry out regular cleaning routines and keep the machine in top working order.
It's interesting that in this country we seem to be able to put up with bad coffee on a daily basis. From my experience I've got the point where I really appreciate good coffee. Now whilst I consider myself to be no more than an amateur home barista, to me majority of shots I brew taste better to me that the usual Nero or Starbucks. The differentiator for me is that if I brew a shot that's crap I'll discard it and start over. From watching baristas at work in chains they really just don't have the knowledge and understanding to be able to make good coffee which is obvious when you watch the espresso piss out of the portafilter at a rate of knots.
What's missing from the coffee chains is the passion. Just like anything, be it web-sites or coffee, to stand any chance of being good at something you've got to at least be interested in what you're doing. It's only in cafes like "Flat White", "Fernandez and Wells" in soho and "Monmouth" in Seven Dials that you can really find coffee made with passion. These people care that the coffee that you consume is made from great beans and that it's brewed to perfection by people that understand the chemistry behind the brewing process.
Coffee is an art form, from the grind to the tamp to the temperature of the water and consistency of the milk, each and every parameter has an effect on the result. Just like web developers; the very best developers I know have passion in spades, and they understand how to balance all of the aspects of web development to produce the perfect result.