In the past three years or so, espresso bars have spread at a fast pace.

It is now a common meeting place for:

  • businessmen,
  • students,
  • OAPs,
  • young mothers with their offsprings.

The barista will have to produce the occasional babyccino with that dusty layer of chocolate sprinkles. The kind of drink which sounds very trendy but is nothing else than luke warm milk!

babyccino

Anyway, the customer is always right… apparently.

Coffee shops have to cater for everyone; they are the new public houses. After all, a coffee is cheaper than a pint of beer and you can drive after such beverage. Everyone is a winner.

Have you noticed how many coffee shops are blossoming in most commercial centres, High Streets and even narrow alleyways? They are literally everywhere.

Meanwhile, there is enough space for everyone to share a slice of the daily trade. They are all busy and smiling.

It is down to the consumers to decide which one is their favourite. This means that a Costa drinker won’t go to Café Rouge or Nero and vice versa.

Even two good friends might take different directions when it is time for their caffeine fix, and then meet up proudly after having been served with their drinks which will bring something special to their busy and stressful day.

But are our towns and cities saturated with cafés?

It is true they are so many but what is also important is to make the right choice before stepping into one of them. Having a nice shiny espresso machine and décor is one thing. But what about the coffee quality/origin and the type of roast profile?

This is what should attract the client in the first place and not the cool seats or free magazines.

Are some people missing the point of what makes a cup of coffee so special and unique?

Sitting in a crowded space with a hot drink and a generous slice of cake will unconsciously make that person part of a community.

There is also the question from a business point of view: should buyers be informed about what is in the hopper or should the barista just pull espresso shots back to back without asking questions in order to guide people towards a specific taste/flavour such a waiter/waitress would do with the wine list in a restaurant?

It is first of all important for the business owner to define what he/she is after. Running a shop with all the equipment is not cheap – especially at the start. There are as well several factors to consider; is it preferable to get a rented place or  go the extra mile towards freehold investment? All this without mentioning business rates.

Indeed, there is a cost to setup such business and making coffee requires not only certain skills and knowledge but also a capital – mainly when being a small independent. There is no room for mistake.

Speaking recently to a regular coffee lover, he was amazed and shocked to hear the price for a grinder such as EK43 and La Marzocco PB. Then to this add fine coffee beans, milk, cups and all the monthly bills/expenses such as staff wages, electricity or water.

Nevertheless, when all is correctly run there is an increase in staff and some places such as Kaffeine, Workshop, Notes or Caravan in London manage to open multiple units. This is without a doubt a testimony of success in a Capital city, where everything is expensive. BrewLab in Edinburgh is following this path too.

These are great entrepreneurs. But are they taking a risk when expanding in a Society where a lot of families seem to face a financial struggle?!

According to the popularity of the existing venues, there is a kind of pattern showing more demand and interest on different levels. Growth is what is needed for the economy of a Country and without those decision makers there would be no evolution.

Knowing the average amount spent per head is around five Pounds (coffee and cake) it doesn’t seem to be affecting the consumers’ budget, it is then natural to go forward by using the same recipe.

Could we reach a saturation level for such outlets?

Do we have too many clothes shops, restaurants, supermakets? Absolutely not! Consequently, coffee shops are safe too, aren’t they?

For the time being, people want their coffee anywhere and everywhere. It is also not unusual to attend coffee talks and classes to learn more about that “new” industry which is definitely breeding successfully.

A real paradox for the United Kingdom which was at a time known as a tea drinking nation!

Coffee is not my cup of tea - teapot

When or if you buy an AeroPress, you will see on the box the mention “espresso maker“.

AeroPress coffee and espresso maker

However, it is a bit unclear of how to make such drink with a device designed to produced delicate filter coffee.

Here is a video explaining it all.

 

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