How To Evaluate A Coffee Shop Before Wasting Your Money

Coffee ain’t cheap, ya know. And few things are more disappointing than forking out five bucks and a tip for a bad latte. Fortunately, there are at least five surefire signs that will tell you the type of coffee shop you’re walking into before you drain your wallet.


A picture is worth a thousand words, and before I even make the trip to a coffee shop, I’m scrolling the gram. I like to not only look at their general aesthetic but any pictures of beverages they may have. Is the milk velvety and creamy or hidden by whipped cream? Is the espresso watery or rich and full?


Once at the shop, my eyes dart behind the counter. Look at their syrups station. Coffee Shops that take the time to make their own syrups are more likely to demonstrate the same amount of care and attention to detail in all areas of espresso work.


If the steam wand is screaming or blenders are bone-crushing there’s a good chance the coffee shop isn’t third wave but second wave or, as I like to say, 2.5 wave. There’s nothing inherently wrong with blenders, but in a “Hot, Iced, or Frozen” coffee culture, they’ve developed a bad rep in the world of specialty.


Glance at the beans in the hopper. Are they black and oily (not so good) or dry and caramel brown (good)? You can also peak at their retail beans as well to ensure they only serve fresh. Look for a roast date — not an expiration date.


Personally, I’m not a fan of sizes like small, medium, large, and so gigantic it comes with a flotation device. I look for 8oz, 12oz and MAX. 16oz. This shows they’re honoring the bean by paying attention to appropriate milk to espresso ratios.

Now, whether your neighborhood just got a new coffee joint or you’re traveling through somewhere looking for a fix, you can walk into a shop and evaluate it like a coffee pro before spending your hard-earned cash.👍

What do you look for in a coffee shop?

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