In my conversations with patrons of this web site one thing has become very clear. It’s about time that Arizona Coffee step up to the plate and provide ratings with actual meaning. Up until this time I’ve been rather slacking in my attempts to rate the quality of coffee for one specific reason. Well, actually two. Time is one of them and I was afraid to do it. I don’t want to offend anybody and, well, it’s a big task. Yeah, I’m a nice guy and I would never want to say to the owner of a coffee shop that his coffee sucks, but unfortunately that’s been the case on occasion and I’ve just kept my mouth shut. So I’ve decided we need to do something about this and in conversations with people I think it would be well accepted. One person in particular told me that if I don’t do this, real coffee geeks wouldn’t find this site to be an authority on coffee. I think he’s right. We need to begin rating the quality of coffee, where the coffee is roasted, the quality and pour time for espresso shots, etc. I’d like to include coffee shop atmosphere in there somewhere as well. A good example of why I think atmosphere matters is because some coffee shops create the perfect atmosphere for hanging out. On Friday at about 5 pm I went over to the new Soma Cafe with a friend after work and ordered two doppio macchiato’s. Immediately I noticed something really cool: they have a bar. It was fun! I got to sit by as the barista prepared my espresso. I was able to ask him some questions, pick up some conversation with the people near me, and generally talk coffee. I can’t tell you how thrilled the barista was that I ordered a doppio macchiato. I got the feeling that all of his customers had been ordering sugar drinks. He was excited. So I think the experience of coffee really matters. Good, quality, fresh coffee is of the utmost importance. Where the coffee shop gets the coffee, when it was roasted, how the espresso shot is prepared, etc. I think many of these come with experience for a barista and so it will be important to visit a coffee shop repeatedly. So that’s what we’re going to do. But only on one condition. I won’t do this alone and whenever we notice a trend I want to ask someone to write an article (or I’ll do it myself) that explains proper technique. If we notice that several coffee shops aren’t pulling espresso shots correctly, we will do an article explaining how a master barista would do it. Hey, that sounds like a good article anyways! I think with this combination we could effectively create a renewed passion among the coffee shops in Arizona for quality coffee production. Moving people away from the sugar-coated coffee towards a finely crafted espresso shot that isn’t bitter. I can see it now! There will actually be a reason to improve quality. Consider this post a shout out to the coffee geeks of Arizona. We’ll have an official process to rate a coffee shop (still need to decided what that is) and a process for updating reviews, and criteria which we will rate shops on. It will be scientific. I like what Greg is doing with CoffeeRatings.com, an exacting espresso review site for San Francisco. Alternatives? There is something to think about though. The possibility of a democratic voting system allowing patrons of this site to register and rate their favorite coffee shops on a number of factors. With thousands of votes a truly exact vote could be established. Maybe a combination with readers choice and official Arizona Coffee ratings is the answer. Please leave a comment with your thoughts or contact me if you’re interested in helping out in some way. Thanks for listening!