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How to Spot a Great Coffee Shop

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Latte Art

© Photo Courtesy Anne Nylander
Anne Nylander's Latte Art

Anne Nylander comes by her coffee fanaticism honestly, having grown up in Seattle during the golden age of Starbucks. She eventually left the Pacific Northwest to crisscross the country, seeking out amazing coffee shops and even becoming a certified U.S. Barista Championship judge. She now channels this knowledge into her company TampTamp, which consults for coffee cafés around New York and even offers barista classes called TampCamp. With so much experience drinking joe, I asked Anne how to spot the best coffee shop in town. Below, her top tips:

Long Lines: “Typically, if there is a line, it means the coffee is worth waiting for, and that the baristas are taking their time making each cup.”

Cleanliness: “Do people clean the windows, dust the shelves? If those things are clean, then the crew is likely also cleaning and taking care of the equipment, and that is the number one thing that can affect the taste of coffee.”

Grinding: “How frequently do they grind the coffee? They should grind for each order, so the grinder should be constantly going, or at least going every minute. That is a sign that your coffee will be fresh.”

Knowledge: “If you ask the barista a question, like where the coffee was roasted or what it tastes like, they should know. A good coffee shop educates its staff.”

Latte Art: “High-quality cafés use latte art as a training standard. The art doesn’t mean the drink will be great, but it indicates that they pay attention to the small things, and therefore the chances of it being a good cup of coffee are better.”

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