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Archive for August, 2009

Elby steaming milk on the La Spaziale

Elbi steaming milk on the La Spaziale

Elbi is a barista at a wonderful coffee shop who we proudly supply coffee to. We have been working with this customer for a while and are proud of the results. Pretty much all the baristas who work there pour latte art on all drinks and the standard of coffee has significantly increased the last year.

We visited Elbi today when she was making some coffees and when I walked in without her knowing I saw lots of lovely cappuccinos being served. The standards of drinks that she served on her own where very impressive. Well done!

IMG00304-20090831-1308

Elbi mid pour

Elbi's rosetta

Elbi's rosetta

Pouring a double rosetta

Pouring a double rosetta

Beautiful double rosetta which tastes lovely as well

Beautiful double rosetta which tasted rich and smooth as well

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Before and after

Before:

9 am...

9 am...

and after:

...10.30 am :) what a beauty!

...10.30 am 🙂 what a beauty!

Who says looks don’t matter…

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Does it damage the espresso if you pull a shot directly into a cold cup?

Espresso on the left is a hot cup. The espresso on the right is in a cold cup and has a lighter crema.

Espresso on the left is a hot cup. The espresso on the right is in a cold cup and has a lighter crema.

Many baristas will tell you that an espresso goes bitter and gives less crema when it is going directly into a cold cup. So we decided to test the theory.

We pulled two single espressos from a double. We used 18 grams with a brewing ratio of 50% (espressos weighed 32 grams) and we had a 25 seconds extraction time. One espresso cup we pre-heated with hot water and the other with cold water.

The espresso in the cold cup appeared to have a lighter crema. The crema in both cups stayed for over 2 minutes so it didn’t seem to affect that too much. The colour was definitely lighter though.

We used a probe to test the temperature of both espressos. The espresso in the cold cup was 10 C degrees colder and was noticable when drinking it. The espresso in the cold cup wasn’t more bitter but it was more souer. Quite similar to pulling a shot with brewing water that is a bit too cold.

Interesting test and I think it shows that you should only pull shots in pre-heated cups. If you keep the cups on top of the espresso machine with the cups in an upright position then they should be warm enough to use.

Two single espressos

Two single espressos

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To tap or not to tap

34 grams of espresso made with 16 grams of ground coffee. This is a brewing ratio of just under 50%.

34 grams of espresso made with 16 grams of ground coffee. This is a brewing ratio of just under 50%.

Many baristas give the group handle a little tap in between the tamping. They do this to losen up the grounds and then they tamp again. I am wondering what this actually does to the coffee. Some baristas have theories that the little tap damages the puck of coffee and can create channelling.

I have been testing this theory with some scales, a timer and a bottomless filter with our La Spaziale S5.

I used 16 grams of the Absolute Espresso (10 days from roasting), with a brewing rate of 50% and an extraction time of 25 seconds. With the first 5 shots I tamped without tapping and with the last 5 espressos I tapped in between (press, tap, tamp).

During both methods I looked at the extraction which is very good to see with a bottomless portafilter. It seems that the tap in between creates slight channelling in some shots, but not in all. The 5 shots without the tap were a little more steady and created no channelling at all.

There is not a massive difference and I think most people wouldn’t taste the difference. By not tapping you are bit safer I think and it speeds things up as well. So if you ask me, ‘To tap or not too tap’ my answer would be not to tap.

Start of pour

Start of pour

Delicious!

Delicious!

Fresh Absolute Espresso

Fresh Absolute Espresso

Made with a bottomless single basket, 10grams of coffee, 7oz cup. Absolutely delicious!

Made with a bottomless single basket, 10grams of coffee, 7oz cup. Absolutely delicious!

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Cool pictures

Just some cool pictures from today:

Absolute Espresso cooling down from a fresh roast

Absolute Espresso cooling down from a fresh roast

Coffee beans at different temperatures. Great for training.

Coffee beans at different temperatures. Great for training.

Delicious Daterra coffee

Delicious Daterra coffee

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It still works

Hold the bolt still and turn the dial to calibrate the thermometer

Hold the bolt still and turn the dial to calibrate the thermometer

A while ago I wrote how you can steam water with soap and it behaves just like milk. Well, we still use it in the training and it is working really well.

We also use thermometers. Many baristas see the use of a thermometer as a thing amateurs would do. I think a thermometer is good and can give some really consistent results. How can a barista be more accurate then a thermometer day in day out of the year? There is nothing wrong with using a thermometer.

It is very important however to calibrate the thermometer so it is reading accurately. To do this, you need to put the thermometer in a glass with ice water. Then hold the bolt at the back and screw the dial until you have the correct temperature.

Milk or water and soap? Can you tell?

Milk or water and soap? Can you tell?

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The start of the pour

The start of the pour

So how can you practise consistency in espresso? Consistency happens because a barista understands what is going on when making an espresso. You need to understand something before you can be consistent at it. When the shot is not going the way  you like it but you don’t understand what the reason was then it is hard to improve on it.

During the training we always focus on explaining what makes the espresso taste a certain way. It is not exact science but there are some important factors that can lead to great consistency. In the end it is all a combination of things and this makes it pretty difficult to produce consistent espressos all day. But not impossible and with a bit of practise anyone can do it.

With consistency I refer to the quality of the cup. Not so much that all espressos are exactly the same (volume, shot times). I believe each shot is slightly different and you therefore should get the best flavour out of the coffee each time. Simply counting the extraction time doesn’t quite work.

A great way to test your dosing, tamping, timing and volume skills is to weigh the coffee. We did this yesterday during some training and I think it created a great awareness of espresso making. Plus it’s fun being called a mad coffee  scientist although it is nothing like that of course 🙂

Weighing the coffee

Weighing the coffee

We weighed the ground coffee and we weighed the espresso. We worked on a set brewing ratio of 50% for espressos and we focused on a 25 seconds extraction time. Does this make the perfect espresso? No not every time, but yesterday the coffee tasted beautiful with these settings and we were working on consistency in dosing and shots. I believe that you can’t put rules to coffee like that but once you have set some ‘parameters’ up you can achieve great results.

It still believe a barista should focus on one shot at a time. Dosing buttons are great tools as are on demand grinders but in the end it is the barista that makes the drink. And the more knowledge the barista has about factors that make the drink good or bad the better the espresso usually turns out to be.

Weighing the espresso

Weighing the espresso

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