Archives for category: Art and Design

A few years ago, people were after a nice frothy cappuccino and it needed chocolate sprinkles too.

Then speciality coffee emerged – the espresso recipe and the drink presentation became different, all of this in order to deliver more taste and flavour.

Coffee education is getting better BUT there are still a few lot of efforts to make and patience is required. Not everyone sees/understands what is coffee and the importance to drink a certain way.

The barista is not here to criticize/ tell off customers but to help them to feel nuances in the shot freshly prepared for them.

The first thing that coffee buyers usually see is the barista and the menu board.

Watching someone making coffee seems very simple: you dose, you tamp, press a button, pour some milk in a jug and steam it. Once the espresso is ready, the warm milk is then poured in a cup – with eventually a latte art personal touch. So eaaaaaasy right?!

However, all this requires skills, knowledge and accuracy.

There are many tutorial online videos showing: how to use a tamper correctly or even the way to steam milk for a flat white. But this is not enough as the general public is becoming “addicted” to caffeine and wants to know and experience the daily life of a barista.

So, coffee shops have decided to setup some evening/weekend classes – taking a handful of “learners” who are after the buzz of making cappuccinos like a pro.

Coffee portafilter and tamper

Booking a barista coffee course is exciting because this is something special a bit like a treat. Some individuals decide to get this as a birthday present – it is so popular that in some places there is even a waiting list.

The class is usually divided in two parts. First, something about coffee history – the way it is harvested and how it becomes the brown bean in the hopper.

The second half is a hands-on workshop: dialling in, dosing & tamping then finally the milk…

What do participants get from this?

For most of them, it is a real discovery. It is not that easy and in fact it is difficult. Attention to details is needed to monitor the espresso shot and eventually adjust the grinder, but also to keep the quality and standard of the milk perfect, throughout the production of milky drinks.

Multitasking is required and one second of distraction can transform a latte into a cappuccino!

After attending such course, the respect towards the barista is greater, because there is this eye opening lesson which proves that making coffee is a real job and not just a game of pressing buttons.

Not everyone can turn up in an espresso bar and jump behind a machine to make a flat white. It takes time, like everything else every other job.

A barista (not a barrister as some people like to say), can be perceived as a person which doesn’t exactly know what he/she is doing. This is actually incorrect.

After a few hours spent at a barista course, people will start to get what it takes to make coffee. Imagine then, that repeating all this for 8 hours or more… not mentioning THAT person who has been waiting for a few minutes but is unable to decide which drink to order.

Being a barista is not just about beard, tattoo and looking cool!

Bearded hipster and christmas

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The other day a barista served a take away cappuccino to a customer. The comment we heard was “what is the point, I am going to drink it“.

It is true without a doubt, the customer will drink the hot beverage! However, latte art is an art made with milk. It is the finishing touch – the icing on the cake.

This particular person was a drinker not a taster: in other words didn’t actually appreciate the skill of the coffee maker. It is craft, it is handmade, it is unique and beautiful but it is never good enough for some.

Latte art - rosetta and tulip

Latte art – rosetta and tulip

A barista is generally ending the flat white, cappuccino or latte (even chai latte) with a rosetta, heart, tulip. What does this show and why?

It is a guarantee that the milk is perfect for the drink: having been stretched, spinned and texturised – it means that the barista knows how to produce a great coffee with just the amount of froth required.

Sometimes people seem annoyed by everything even if what they are waiting for is for themselves. Everything has to be fast and instant…but quality takes time.

The internet is never fast enough despite all improvement from 3G to 4G…it has to be faster. But what do people want?

Patience could be a forgotten word from the 20th century. Look around you when shopping or waiting for something. Individuals look frustrated and angry because the queue in front of them is not moving. However, when it is their turn they want all the attention and take their time to decide, pick and order. Is this not slightly selfish and inconsiderate?

Now, let’s imagine that when ordering a dish the vegetables, fish/meat, salad are just piled up on a plate without care. Surely, this would trigger a complain. So why, attention to detail when it comes to make latte art can be perceived as pointless but when the food is badly presented, it is then unacceptable?!

Would this mean that coffee is seen as a quick fix – or do real coffee tasters want it well served…even if that rosetta will go? Latte art is part of it, isn’t it? We could then ask whether packing birthday presents is also a waste of time, money and effort as this paper will be binned! Overall, it is about the visual effect and showing that there is a real dedication to give something crafted by one person for another.

Producing coffee for let’s say 10 hours a day can be seen as something rather easy and straight forward. But each time – for every drink – it is a new start.

It requires real skills, focus/concentration (yes indeed) and passion. The barista doesn’t just make A drink. He/she will prepare it for you – a bespoke beverage made to order with quality ingredients when it comes to speciality coffee! La crème de la crème!

Pouring Latte Art - close up

Pouring Latte Art – close up

Finally, it is not because you are requesting a take away hot drink that you will be served quicker – the queue is the same for everyone, unless you have decided to go to the express lane of a well known fast food. There is no priority for the paper cup queue as everything has to match the ethical way of making good coffee.

For more details about latte art competition visit SCAE UK page HERE.

Watch below this well made video by ChefSteps, showing how to make a latte.

Our thoughts and observations?

Not sure why the barista uses the automatic grinder on a manual mode – then pour the ground coffee from the glass into the filter basket?! This could have been done directly with the group handle as the scale is also in use…

Anyway…great video with a brilliant angle too. Lovely La Marzocco GS3!