Back up career: barista

This week my colleague Phil and I finally went on our end of trimester team celebration, learning to make the perfect cup of coffee on a RedBalloon barista basics experience.

We’re both what you might affectionately refer to as “coffee snobs”. We don’t drink a lot of coffee, but that one-a-day has to be a good one. Otherwise, look out!

Writing that actually makes me think of my late Pop, Elvin. He would burst through the front door of Mum and Dad’s house and say “put the kettle on Din” (my Mum Denise’s family moniker), “Make us a nice cuppa”. To which I, ever the smart alec would reply, “are you sure you don’t want a crap one Pop?” 

So you can see that I have been genetically programmed to prefer good, rather than “crap” coffee (unlike our American cousins…)

Phil and I were pretty excited to learn about the history of this delicious drink, and the processes the fruit/berries of the coffee plant go through before they arrive in front of us, mixed with delicious 60 degree milk, in a glass, mug or cup – whichever blows your hair back.

It turns out great coffee is actually a bit of a science. Someone needs to write a memo to Starbucks about this. What we learnt is that there are so many factors going into a great cup of coffee, and therefore many variables – and if only one of these variables is out of whack, the whole cuppa will suffer (ooh, nice rhyming).

So, here’s the “Coffee Equation” we learnt (I’ve always been better with words than numbers, so bear with me)…

  • The ground coffee must be pressed with 18kg or force into the portafilter
  • It takes 7gm of coffee to produce a single “shot” of coffee
  • The water that runs through this coffee extracting the flavour and aroma (crema) into your cup, must be 92 degrees.
  • There must be 30ml of water running through the coffee grounds, therefore producing a 30ml single shot
  • The milk must be heated to 60 degrees

A piece of cake…

It was great fun playing around with the professional machines, getting the hang of foaming the milk first, and then graduating on to the actual coffee component. We made cappuccinos, lattes, flat whites, mochas, short/long blacks and short/long macchiatos. It really was a great way to spend three hours, and the highlight? Getting to sample my own handiwork of course!

I now have a new level of respect for baristas – while I found it fun and not too difficult getting the different elements right in the correct order, I wonder how I would cope managing multiple orders for different drinks in a busy and noisy café. And all of a sudden I wonder how all of those male barista’s out there manage to multi-task so well…

Looking pretty darn pleased with myself!

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