Archives for posts with tag: barista

It happened and will certainly happen again – a regular customer turned up and asked for a latte to take-away at around 5pm. Being a regular, the barista mentioned that these beans are different from the ones served that same morning.

This wasn’t a blend of Brazil & Burundi but a single origin from El Salvador. Meaning that the latte will without a doubt taste different.

At that very point, the customer looked confused with a nervous smile on his face.

The barista could almost hear that little voice in the customer’s head saying: “what are you talking about…”.

There was (of course) that mention from the customer: “i am just after a latte”!

This type of customer was a drinker and not a taster. He just wanted a caffeine hit, a taste of coffee without caring about:

  • the roast profile,
  • the origin of the beans,
  • the taste and/or flavours.

Should people buying a coffee be more curious about what is in their cup/drink?

Those individuals might be really fussy when it comes to choose a wine to go with their meals. However, coffee is (sadly) seen and perceived as a hot beverage – as if all of them have a taste of…coffee.

Some could be surprised and eventually shocked, as speciality coffee is deeper than that.

It is not about being arrogant or pretentious about coffee. Being passionate (or an expert) when it comes to recognize the country and region is where all the difference is.

It is similar to what a sommelier does! Assessing the tasting notes and measuring the level of acidity, sweetness and body.

cupping matFor larger and full version click on the image

Filter coffee is starting – slowly – to become more popular than milky espresso based drinks. But, do people decide to have a nice latte because of the latte art or do they believe that black coffee is boring?

We could question whether they have ever tried an AeroPress, Chemex or V60?! Does this seem too complex?

These filter brewing methods will produce incredibly different drinks; the coffee extraction is surprising and it is not unusual to see people discarding their 15 year old cafetiere for a new device.

What does this mean? The drink quality can be a revelation. It is a bit like buying ground coffee and coffee beans which are then freshly ground on demand (either manually or automatically), or even cooking from fresh and having a ready meal. It works the same way.

If all beans were the same, why would so many coffee shops be selling two or three different coffees either blends or single estate!?

Here again, it can be compared with pubs and the various beer/ales: they all have a distinctive finish with more/less acidity or floral aroma!

This is the same with coffee beans! Without forgetting the peaberry – rare too.

The washing process is also something important to consider.

Coffee washing process

Coffee washing process

Caring about coffee is just natural, isn’t it? No one would like to have a lager served instead of a bitter and vice versa. Same rule applies for that caffeinated drink!

Another example with tea: Assam will bring something that Earl Grey doesn’t have and here people don’t say “it is just tea” – they are clearly after a specific taste and flavour.

When looking at a cappuccino, the espresso (which is the foundation of the drink) is then diluted with milk in order to give that smoothness.

The actual sensation after having had such coffee can make you feel “heavy” or full-up. This is because proteins contained in the milk will produce sweetness. Imagine combining this with a rich slice of cake. The sugar hit will have an effect on your metabolism.

When ordering a filter coffee why adding milk to a delicate liquid? There is no logic to do so.

Would you be ready to purchase a great tasty meal (whether fish, vegetables or meat) and spoil it with an additional ingredient which would destroy the initial point of having ordered such food? A person would buy a curry because of what it brings to the taste buds and pouring either tomato or brown sauce over it could be perceived as a major mistake, wouldn’t it?

This is why caring about coffee is something which has to become more natural/common and putting sugar away would in fact, help you to enjoy a subtle cup of coffee. Without forgetting that speciality coffee is not bitter due to the roast being medium rather than dark!

It is also important to understand that each beans have been hand selected to be in your bag. There is a reason why 250g of coffee can be over ten Pounds. The green beans required a lot of attention, labour and care too and there is a price to pay for quality.

Preparing a filter is similar to cooking – there is a recipe. It is about respecting proportions (ratio in this case) between coffee and water. It is not just about pouring water over a powder sitting in a filter.

Once all this is understood then… the consumer will appreciate each second – from the time the barista makes the drink to the last drop in the cup.

There are many ways to brew filter coffee – it all depends on your preferences.

The coffee will be different according to the device used to make that filter.

Today is a video by Kinfolk… indeed like the famous magazine of the same name – it is all about the AeroPress.

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