Personally, I love bagels. The pinnacle of all bagels is the toasted everything bagel with plain cream cheese.
I reserve the right to update this over time, but let this serve as the Bergstein Metrics of Bagelology.
1. Seeding Amount
I've seen bagels under seeded, but I have also seen bagels way over seeded (see: Panera and Dunkin Donuts). Seeding is critical to the flavor, don't blow it folks.
2. Slicing Equality
A clear sign of unprofessionalism is the equality of the bagel slices. No bagel deserves this discrimination. It's got to be ballpark 50/50. You start seeing some major issues with toasting and crunchiness as this number slides. Lopsidedness is also a crime against humanity. Measure twice, cut once.
Some swear by just the slice, others go for the quartering after the slice. My belief is that this model of a bagel is intended to be eaten as a sandwich. No bagel should be eaten purely in halves, slice-by-slice. It should be banned; borderline illegal. I prefer said sandwich to be quartered, such that one half is eaten at a time as a sandwich. Immediate points are earned for vendors who intuitively do this without request.
This is a make or break metric, closely tied to slicing. Overtoasting leaves a charcoal-y taste, where undertoasting leaves the bagel chewy and starchy. Hit the sweetspot: a little brown around the ring, crispy outside, not burnt.
5. The Schmear
The best bagel vendors are those who crank out their own cream cheese (like a boss). I have nothing against philly cream cheese, but vendors enter into a new realm of awesome the second they make it themselves. There is just something about fresh homemade stuff that really makes a statement.
Further, the amount of the schmear is also a make-or-break. A lack of cream cheese may dry up or not effectively complement the seeding. Too much cream cheese makes the bagel sloppy and unedible. Ballpark, strive for an even centimeter-high schmear throughout the entire slice of the bagel.
Must be made every morning, must not sit on shelf long, must not be frozen. Again, musts.
The most subjective and all-encompassing of other metrics; clearly the most obvious metric. Balance is the key here, across seeding, toasting, schmear, etc. Bagels can be disqualified for getting off the reservation by using exotic seeds in their seeding or by putting some completely off-based twist on this classic. Seeding often contains salt. This is one component that needs limited, too much salt makes the complementary coffee go down way too quickly and in masse quantity. Stick with what works, folks.
It must be a completely cooked, non-gooey middle. Points are earned if the bagel has a decent crust and soft inside (note: soft - not gooey). The rounder the bagel, the more difficult it is to nail the texture. Only premier bagel vendors should go for the round, fat bagels, as opposed to the flatter ones with rounded edges.
Leave me some love with what you look for.