Are there bad coffee shops in and around Bogotá? That seemed to be the question a reader asked us. The person inquired about places we have not reviewed.
Michael: My wife and I hit coffee shops at least 300 days each year. Before a place occupies space on our site we visit it several times. And we constantly seek out new coffee venues. There are so many coffee shops in a city and suburbs of over 11 million people that it is difficult to hit them all. Then there are those places that just have coffee as an after thought to their main products and really do not even try to make it good. But yes, there are places that just do not measure up.
Very few things annoy me more than a coffee shop that rests its laurels on only one part of the coffee process then believe and markets themselves as the best thing since sliced bread. In our experience they are usually out of business within the year.
Sure some parts that we judge a good coffee shop by are subjective and variable such as service. That is why we usually attend several times and my wife and I discuss them. Sometimes the two of us do not agree on the degree of some of these subjective attributes. But there are those places offering neither one of us something positive to write about.
I’ll give you an example of a new one we recently tried. There are four locations in Bogotá with the same name. One is even a restaurant though they market themselves as a natural food store. We tested out their new location at the Sabana Norte Mall in Chia. The decoration is very good having great curb appeal to draw us in. Health food products for sale line shelves. Concerning whether what they display as healthy is unique and well priced is for someone else to determine. We were there for the coffee.
Though there were no other customers in the place the attendant gave the impression that taking our order was an interruption in her day. In addition there is no way the person is a barista. She fumbled her way around the machine eventually ending up with black brew.
Very disappointly she served the coffee in a clear plastic cup. It is well know that doing such does not just ruin the taste, but is also a possible health hazard. Seems kind of a stupid error to me to be done by a health food store.
When asking for sugar the employee presented organic sugar in a manner like she was doing us a favor. My thought was it is not so special, Juan Valdez puts out many packages of organic sugar at every one of their locations.
Graciela: We always enjoy a snack with our coffee. This time our order consisted of slices of two different cakes displayed in their showcase. Both turned out to be dry and tasteless.
Michael: While the place put much thought and effort into making the store visually attractive they missed with overall comfort. They used wooden stools instead of chairs. And even then the design was too short, in my opinion. Add to it that the table wobbled.
Graciela: Next came the surprise and not a good one. When we asked for the bill the amount came to an amount beyond double what we usually pay for similar items of even better quality at other coffee shops. When questioning the cost the young lady with a smug look on her face said, “The coffee is organic.”
Michael: Suppose I could have argued that any possible benefit of the coffee being organic was negated by sloppy preparation and being served in a plastic cup. But my mind calculated that such would have been a fruitless waste of my time. Obviously the attendant was not the owner and wanted to do little more than put in her time, get paid and go home.
My belief that the price utterly failed in comparison to what we received is not shared by all it seems. A few days after our experience we related the story to another person. “Well of course it has to cost more,” he said. “It’s organic.” Talk of what many consider to be organic and the often completely different government definition failed to elicit even the slightest shift in his conclusion. Covering the manual labor cost involved, whether the beans are organic or not, and the fact that a good cup of coffee requires descent preparation left him still entrenched in his belief that twice the price was deserved.
Graciela: Much of the coffee in Colombia is organic just by the very nature of what chemicals we can’t use compared to many other countries. And in looking at the entire process which includes picking, drying, and roasting I cannot comprehend a justification for more than double the price of the final product.
Michael: The above is just one example how a coffee shop falls short of warranting a review from us. We regard as important the time of our readers and do not wish to brother them reading about a place that will leave a bad taste in their mouth. While we realize that there are differences of opinion, our intent is to present you with the most viable option to enjoy Colombia and especially its coffee. But also realize that if we have not reviewed a coffee shop the reason might be that we just have not gotten to it yet.