Allegria Espresso Bar

Madison’s Espresso
July 16, 2007, 12:40 am
Filed under: Espresso

A few weeks ago, I went to Madison, Wisconsin and stopped at a number of cafes to try their espresso. I got to four of the many, many shops in the area, ordering a single espresso at each. 

But before I pass judgement, let me say that this was a Sunday afternoon, so maybe their best baristas weren’t working, or they were but they were jaded because they were working a weekend and wanted me to feel their pain. Although, the girl at Espresso Royale seemed happy enough, so who knows?

Whatever the case, the espresso was simply bad. At all of the places. I was able to get each espresso in a ceramic cup, not paper, but still, what was held in that ceramic was a pale, thinned crema barely holding itself together on top of a watery brew. And if that wasn’t enough, the single shot espressos were all three to four ounces in size, and I didn’t have the heart to leave a barely touched espresso on the table, so I sat and drank and drank and… 

What was nice was that each espresso did get progressively better as we moved from shop to shop, or my standards were lowered to make me feel as though the trip wasn’t a complete failure, but we’ll pretend that wasn’t the case.

The best shot on this lazy Sunday afternoon came from Etes Vous Prets, or EVP on Mineral Point Road. But it was still a far cry from the double Sonnie pulled me at Metropolis in Chicago a few months prior. That was tasty.


7 Comments so far
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What were the other two places you sampled espressos at?

Comment by Jesse

EVP hasn’t been on Highland for a couple years. The west side one is now on Mineral Point Rd near Glenway. If any readers are looking for the location of your best taste test, they’ll be looking in the wrong place!

Comment by Robbie

The other two that my guide took me to were Ancora Coffee Roasters on Monroe St. and Michelangelo’s Coffeehouse. Besides the obvious, it was an overall fun time. I’d go back, but of course, try my luck with something a little more forgiving like a latte.

My mistake Robbie. They are indeed on Mineral Point Road (3809) even though the receipt says 518 Highland Ave. I had been told about their move too. Careless of me, but it’s been edited.

Comment by Allegria

EVP is one of the best places to just waltz in and get a shot. Stable set of baristas that know some stuff. I personally like their roast.

Electric Earth is one of the WORST places you could have chosen. Not even the OWNERS of that place know the first thing about espresso. They DO make some good cold brewed coffee though.

Barriques can pull a good shot, but like most places, you have to know the barista. This is important almost everywhere. I like the Alterra roast they use.

If you want a good shot, don’t just stroll in and ask for a single espresso. I’d never do that at a place I don’t know. Usually I quiz the barista to determine if they know what they’re doing. If they don’t, I order it short – improving my chances of getting something that doesn’t suck. AND, I’m not shy one bit about asking for a second pull. Once, it took the person 4 pulls to get something reasonably close to an espresso shot. 🙂

The Ancorra on King (which is closed on Sundays) has a few decent baristas as well. Oh, AND, they serve a tasty affogato in the summer. 🙂

Hey, keep on posting about espresso. If you can educate more people to appreciate the good stuff, maybe cafes will start actually paying attention.

Comment by Philip

Thanks for the comment, Philip. Barriques and Ancorra on King will be on my list of places to try next time. And I’ll protect myself with a few questions. I guess my expectations were just too high. I carefully watch baristas in smaller towns, and my thought process usually goes from “I can’t wait for this espresso” to “Hello, I’d like an apple cider, please.”

It’s nice to know people are reading this. I’m certainly encouraged to keep it up.

Comment by Allegria

Well, you would say that the espresso is tasty! But we are all standing around reading the blogs and i (annie) am very excited for our excursion to the cities for either amazing or awful espresso. It’s going to be a party! and i(bailey) look forward to being stuck in grounded all day knowing that the two of you are having a grand old time in the cities 😦 oh well…i will just be making god shots that you will never get to experience. and i (andria) will not be making god shots… i will be developing pictures (aka going on the computer for my entire shift)… but i will be thinking about the good espresso in the cities… find me something good. alright enough of this…. we “are going back to work”
p.s. we have all decided that you are the stud of grounded although todd is your only competition and he has a few years on you 🙂

Comment by Grounded (annie, bailey, andria)

Now that the excursion has come and gone, I can say that you (Bailey) and you (Andria) missed quite the trip. Annie was witness to my over-caffeine consumption (why didn’t you stop me?), and good times were had by all. Until next time, may all your shots be syrupy and rich.

Comment by Adam

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