Written on: 05/09/2007 by Laturb (1 review written)
Size of cups
Quality of coffee
Quality of staff/training
Quality of panini
The following is a verbatim copy of an email sent to Caffe Nero seven days ago. I didn't even get confirmation of receipt, let alone a response:
My wife and I have been great fans of Caffe Nero since you opened and would go out of our way to search out a bar, however, this year we have been made increasingly aware of reduced quality and a questionable marketing direction.
i) the starbucking of the size of cups; gone is the original small cup previously used that are standard in Italian bars; the new style cappuccino is merely hot milk with a 'hint' of coffee. I know we can always ask for less milk, but the previous smallest cup always gave great balance and flavour. Anyway, as a lot of the staff speak very limited English, explaining and getting what one wants is often difficult. I always have real trouble getting cappuccino 'senza' chocolate, even when I ask repeatedly.
ii) either the quality of the coffee has changed (for the worse) or the gramme weight per serving has been reduced!?
iii) who's supplying your panini now? In Cambridge last week, on inspecting the contents of a chicken version with a creamy white dressing (can't remember the name) there was a minute slither of tomato, even less of a pepper, a green leaf and two of the tiniest slivers of chicken imaginable. Also, given that the undermanned bar meant that the panino was in the grill for so long (we had to go looking for it). It arrived so hot and flattened that any flavour it might have had was ruined.
iv) extend the training period of your baristas. The average quality of the staff we encounter now generally wouldn't last 5 minutes in an Italian bar. Also, we see far too many assistant baristas manning your bars, with the resultant lengthening queues, grumbling customers and fractious staff. Also, a reasonable grasp of English wouldn't go amiss.
Overall, and although your branding has always claimed kinship with Italian bars, the similarity is becoming so distant as to threaten a visit from a trading standards officer. Tatler's 'The best espresso this side of Milan' is but hazy memory of better time's now past.