Archives for posts with tag: milk

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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Living in the 21st century where so many things are allowed and tolerated but breastfeeding seems to remain a taboo.

Each mother with a newborn needs to feed the baby at some point during the day. Breastfeeding is the most natural way to do so. Meanwhile, some people are uncomfortable when a woman is naturally giving milk to her son/daughter.

How can this be such an issue and bring controversial debates, conversations and mainly… arguments!

It is important to clarify the following: breastfeeding is not related to nudity. It is motherhood!

Nudity is all over the internet and accessible to all, but no one seems worried or offended to see pictures of celebrities in bikinis or male models advertising their new collection of underwear. How can a mother giving her breast to a baby be perceived as rude and not politically correct?! The paradox being that people are not getting offended about huge billboards of women in lingerie. Or page 3 models – thankfully this one is over. Both of these displays of nudity are public,  yet rarely you hear a complaint.

Some mothers have been named and shamed, asked to leave restaurants and other public spaces because it was that time of the day where their little one needed milk!

Then, it is not uncommon to walk into an espresso bar and see a sticker on the door, informing the clientèle that this particular space is breastfeeding friendly!

Breastfeeding friendly sticker

Breastfeeding friendly sticker

It is as if, the view of a woman having her child drinking her own milk is making people feel uncomfortable. When the only thing she is doing is a mother’s instinct, which is about making sure that her offspring is happy and healthy.

Babycentre.co.uk has even published a clear article about feeling more confident when breastfeeding in public – full details available HERE.

What is more annoying; a screaming child who wants something to eat/drink or a quiet shared public space where everyone has peace and quiet? Surely the latter!

As another example: would you prefer to share a table with someone reading an adult magazine or a mother (breast)feeding a few weeks old baby? What is more acceptable – knowing that we are constantly bombarded by half naked pictures of men or women (no need to mention Kim Kardashian’s derriere which “broke the internet“)!

Have people lost touch with the real sense and values of life? Why could such thing go viral? Why follow the flock of irrelevant social media streams? Thankfully, some people decided to make a fool of the original image – no point of putting such image here,  as everyone must have seen it.

In some/many instances, the general public likes to make a point just for the sake of it. Even when the argument has no real foundation. It is all about getting in the press and stirring things. Almost like a tick on a check list: “did that and proud of it“.

Getting a new approach/vision of life should be considered, rather than being stuck in a virtual world where real and fake friends are mixed up – then starts from square one.

Breastfeeding is neither a fashion movement nor a hipster behaviour. It is part of the circle birth – life – death. Of course, some parents like to dress up their children in a cool manner and babywear outfits have changed in the same way as our lifestyles: colourful and easy going!

It will be difficult to actually change people, because there will always be some individuals against the fact that a baby needs to be fed anywhere and anytime… whenever it is necessary! All this is not new.

MAGNI, Giuseppe, (Italian, 1869-1956): Interior Family Scene with Mother and Three daughters by an Open Window

MAGNI, Giuseppe, (Italian, 1869-1956): Interior Family Scene with Mother and Three daughters by an Open Window

 

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 (http://grocycle.com/urban-mushroom-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