Archives for posts with tag: coffee culture

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.

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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

There are various stages before you are actually enjoying your fresh cup of coffee.

There is a lot of labour, time and patience behind a kilo of coffee.

This video shows you what is required to get to that wonderful roasted coffee ready to brew.