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The Coffee at the French Laundry Is Great (Or Bad)

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Earlier this month, Thomas Keller and company made waves in coffee circles by introducing the most expensive coffee in the world to the French Laundry. The magic coffee, called the Panama Esmeralda Geisha, is apparently grown by three lone plants somewhere in the Central American mountains and sold at auction for $130 a pound. And the only place in the world to find it is at the conclusion of VIP dinners at the French Laundry and Per Se. Initial reactions to the coffee splurge were predictably glorious, but now some coffee-philes think it's all a cover-up ploy by Keller:

Problem is that the coffee service at The French Laundry is well, uh, severely lacking compared to the otherwise lofty dining expectations and l'addition. (For example, their espresso scored lower than the Starbucks at SFO.) So rather than get educated, train staff, and elevate the craft (if not also chuck their superautomatic Schaerer espresso machine for something less suited for an assembly line), they take the lazy short cut of espousing the merits of "the most expensive coffee in the world" on their menus.
While it's almost assuredly premature to tout the crumbling of the overexpanded Keller Empire predicted by some earlier this fall, we are fascinated by the prospect that Food Jesus may have taken a "un-Kelleresque" shortcut that sees spending trump quality.
· How do you know when your fancy restaurant still doesn't "get" coffee? [TheShot]
· Tasting coffee of the gods [NVR]
· Thomas Keller's World Domination Plans: Heavies Respond [~E~]

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