Archives for posts with tag: brew

It seems that a lot of people think that an espresso machine used by barista, makes cappuccino or latte by just pressing a button. This is not the case.

Same goes with how the coffee is harvested then roasted. Green coffee doesn’t smell like coffee… The coffee “bean” is actually the seed of the coffee plant, the pit inside of the coffee fruit (cherries to be more precise).

Coffee ready for harvest

Coffee ready for harvest

Suddenly, more and more people are switching from tea to coffee. As if drinking an americano, filter or flat white would make you part of this “exclusive” coffee culture, blending with connoisseurs and geeks. Meanwhile, being “addicted” to a daily coffee only makes you a regular drinker.

There is sometimes a real paradox when a man/woman comes into a espresso bar and asks a lot of questions about the house coffee as well as the guest in the hopper and eventually about brewing methods…but ends up drinking an extra hot cappuccino. This could almost be seen as a waste of time  – as we all know coffee shops can be extremely busy – and customers in the queue can be very impatient…simply because they need that coffee hit.

Asking for a cappuccino and deciding to change the order for a latte (or vice versa) is never an issue as long as the barista hasn’t started to work with the milk. Yes indeed, the milk is what makes the difference between the various drinks. Pressing the button on the espresso machine will only dispense the espresso shot (which is the foundation of the beverage).

A few customers don’t actually seem to know what they are actually drinking. For them it is a coffee with milk. The milk texture will be different between cappuccino, latte, flat white. All ingredients are the same (ground coffee and milk)…it is just the final touch which will actually change the name of the drink.

There is also the question about “what happens with the used ground coffee in the knock box“? In general a local business collects daily what has been used in order to re-use it as fertilizer/compost. It can be done by an organic farm ( or just a person who has an allotment/garden. And as the saying goes “what comes around goes around“…this is the perfect cycle. It is in most cases available to take or collect otherwise it would be lost and binned. Recycling is the way forward for most things including coffee pucks.

Coffee puck - espresso

Coffee puck – espresso

Coffee puck - aeropress

Coffee puck – aeropress

Keeping such thing would be pointless. It has to be used rapidly or it would dry out.

Whether you go to an independent coffee shop in London, Bristol or in a more remote location such as North Devon where the recycling system is in place thanks to Coastal UK… it is working like clockwork. Rather important especially with the coastline not that far and the beautiful countryside to look after and preserve.

Running a coffee shop is more intricate that people think. Too often, potential customers becoming then regulars see the life of the business from their side of the counter. Generally it is a warm and cosy place to hang out and socialize. But the team behind the counter has to be consistent and working rapidly but efficiently is the key to keep everyone happy. But there is more to it.

Making sure the grinder and coffee machine are correctly set up, in order to respect a perfect extraction ratio or the brew could taste awful.

Cleaning the group heads daily is a must, to avoid any residue of ground coffee.

Group Head Espresso Machine

Group Head Espresso Machine

What happens behind the scene of a coffee shop is all about preparation, organization and planning ahead for tomorrow. Having enough of everything but never too much. Coffee beans, paper filters for Aeropress/V60 pour over and milk are the top three items to have in stock.

Being a barista is usually perceived as a “cool job“.

Barista at work

Barista at work

It is also demanding because it involves standing, serving, cleaning, brewing using various means according to what is ordered and of course there is a big part of customer service as well. It is not just about pressing a button; guiding and advising undecided individuals whether a flat white would be better than a cortado or a latte. It is can be fun, no doubt!

Nevertheless, it can also be a hard and long day. There is no way to hide or to have an easy day because each drink is unique and different. The situation is almost like a live show where there is no room for mistake…without altering the quality of the crafted hot drink(s) to have in or to take away.

A barista will make the drink you are after (as long as it is on the menu) – the espresso machine will just provide the espresso.

Wanting a coffee is understandable but it is also about being patient until it is your turn, as rushing the order won’t help. It is obvious that people are always short of time either because of a meeting or a train to catch, but this is not a reason to put the staff under pressure. It is about time management and respect.

Getting the drink right is pleasing; for the person making it and for the one enjoying it. It is worth waiting for quality.

Latte art on take away cup

Latte art on take away cup

Coffee business is not just about London, Manchester or Edinburgh.

There is a real excitement and buzz around the world of coffee: from roaster to barista and caffeine addict as well.

Britain seems to have ditched the afternoon tea and biscuits for something more exotic with a coffee and a brownie (other cakes are available in general).

It is not rare to see people have two or three cups of coffee with some variations: espresso, filter (V60 or aeropress), flat white. All of these will bring something different to the palate and taste buds. Rather comforting and there is also this caffeine hit. If your barista is skilled enough the ground will be different between a clever dripper and a cafetière or americano.

So what is happening in the South West of England? Nothing related to cream teas this time or pasties, but the launch of something rather exceptional:


South West Independent Coffee Guide - launch 17/10/14

South West Independent Coffee Guide – launch 17/10/14

For more information read full article HERE.

It can feel like a private event but it is also open to the public as long as you turn up with an exclusive and limited ticket available from Eventbrite for just £9.99 (+ booking fee £1.25).

The evening will be at Extract Coffee Roasters in Bristol from 7pm.

…UK’s premiere of highly acclaimed US film A Film About Coffee will be screened as part of the VIP launch celebrations. Craft Brewer Wiper & True will provide a pop-up bar for the evening… it’s going to be quite a party…

A Film About Coffee poster

A Film About Coffee poster

But why is this all like a secretive ceremony happening in a warehouse? Some might say it is a kind of cult where only professional hipsters king/queen of latte art are allowed to turn up!? Absolutely not! It is simply the celebration of something new and unique with a lot of fun around it.

Coffee owners/barista aren’t pompous or boring people but more like open minded and witty. Just look at what takes place during UK Barista Championship: it is a competition about coffee and methods of brewing as well as creativity and knowledge.

Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood is a prime example as he gave a lesson regarding water quality and the effect on coffee.

Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood - All about water (photo by Kate Beard)

Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood – All about water (photo by Kate Beard)

What he said was and is really important if you are after that perfect cup of coffee – not missing the correct ratio and respecting the extraction time.

Making coffee is like cooking: you have some ingredients and you want/need the best – giving the opportunity to deliver high quality in order to release full flavour and maximum aroma to the drink.

Having the South West Independent Coffee Guide (SWICG) available soon, it means that there could be a lot of positive changes at the horizon. Could Cornwall and Devon become the new destination for a (coffee) road trip instead of crowded London with numerous Tube strikes?

Devon is already famous for its fabulous coastlines (thank you to recycle schemes) and beautiful seaside resorts – but this new book could drag even more/new visitors to the English Riviera and British countryside. Roasting coffee is not an urban activity as such. In fact, there is an interesting read published by the Food Mag – visit the dedicated page HERE.

The Westcountry is not that boring – and if this was the case why are there so many holidaymakers playing on beaches, trekking on Dartmoor or even Londoners taking a break in this part of England?!

This forthcoming coffee guide is without a doubt a win-win for this area of the United Kingdom but also for everyone involved in the coffee culture!

There are several ways to brew coffee.

Intelligentsia has probably the best and rather stylish videos covering many aspects of it.

In this particular case it is all about pour over.