mini-review: Allegro Coffee

Today a coffee craving struck me while I was at an outlet of a well-known, high end grocery chain. For the sake of nothing in particular, let’s refer to the store as Mole Dudes

Mole Dudes owns Allegro Coffee, which started as a roaster in Boulder, Colorado in 1977. Many Mole Dudes, including the one I found myself in today, have an Allegro shop within a shop in their stores.

I’ve had coffee at Allegro in other Mole Dudes a few times before, and it’s always been a resoundingly mediocre cup. I figured I’d try once more, as there wasn’t anything else nearby. I didn’t see a macchiato listed on the menu, so decided to go for a cortado, which, again, not awful but certainly not very good.

The coffee stand wasn’t at all busy, and I was able to stand to the side of the machine to watch the barista prepare my beverage. The machine certainly wasn’t the problem, as it was a commercial grade La Marzocco. I can’t vouch for the quality of the beans, but one immediate problem seemed to be the person making the drink. No care taken in steaming the milk or pouring it into the espresso. As I said, the place wasn’t being slammed so not a case of rushing because they were busy. I’m not convinced she knew exactly what she was doing other than by rote, and it was reflected in the outcome.

I’m not saying this to blame the barista. I blame the people who run the store and trained her. She was wearing the same Mole Dudes apron as everyone one else in the store, so for all I know she may be working her next shift in the bakery or produce. Same thing in other shops.

These stores have a big captive audience that isn’t afraid to spend (it’s known as Whole Paycheck for a reason). The company essentially owns the shop within a shop, and a big part of the grocery’s shelf space dedicated to coffee beans is given over to Allegro. That beauty of a coffee machine certainly doesn’t come cheap. A crying shame not to put someone behind it who knows what they’re doing and really cares about what they’re making.

It’s a wasted opportunity, which is a big surprise given the grocery chain and its parent Amazon are renowned for quality, innovation and service. 

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