for the love of coffee

Voila, I finally finished my coffee course. It started six months ago, on the 19th of April 2011, and ended on 16th of September 2011. Pretty cool huh?

Actually, not.

There are two classes. The first one is learning the basic stuffs: the coffee bean, the coffee, the history of coffee, how to make coffee, the 101 lessons of espresso: frothing milk, grinding, tamping, dosing, cleaning, arting… And the second one is the practice session by yourself. Six months ago I attended the theory. Today I attended the practice.

I’d say, I was pretty good. I can make good espresso, with good crema, and froth silky, smooth milk. (*proud). I just can’t master the coffee art. IT’S HARD.

But it’s so much fun ;)

I’m on my way to buy a decent coffee machine (thinking of this one: Gaggia Baby Twin) and a not-so-decent coffee grinder (thinking of this one: Sunbeam grinder). If any of you have a better solution, please tell me before it’s too late.

I hope there will be at least one person who is a coffee freak (like me) among you who are reading this.

The steps of becoming a good barista:

  1. Coffee beans.
    Admit it, no matter how good your skill is, or how good the coffee machine is, the core ingredient is still the most important thing. No more instant coffee! (do you know that instant coffee actually contains 4x more caffeine than the proper one?). and remember, fresh is always the best! Coffee beans will lose its freshness after one month (considering you are storing these beans in an airtight container, and in a room-temperature condition, not in the freezer or the fridge), while ground coffee beans will lose its freshness after a few hours. phew.
  2. Grinding your coffee.
    It must be the perfect grinding. Not too coarse, not too fine. The problem with coarse ground coffee is that the espresso made will not be thick enough. Fine ground coffee overdid it, extracting every bit of the coffee and you can sense the bitterness of the coffee.
  3. Dosing
    Well, it must be the perfect dose. Same principle, too little, not enough espresso, too much, then you will produce bitter coffee.
  4. Tamping
    Must be at the right pressure. The optimal pressure is 5 KJ, which I don’t know how hard, but I usually tamp as hard as I can because I know 5 KJ is equivalent to 5 kg weight on you, and it’s quite hard to do because I’m a very weak person (this is true). and tamping should be done with stainless steel tamper. The plastic one would not do the trick.
  5. The golden rule: 25-30 ml extraction in 25-30 s
    How do you know you have made the perfect espresso? If you have been able to produce 25-30ml of espresso in approximately 25-30 seconds! Then, a layer of crema should have been made, and it’ll be a bit thick, and it should be able to hold sugar for a couple of seconds.And ehm, during my coffee course, I recorded this as a proof that I can do 25-30 ml extraction in approximately 25-30 s (*big grin!). Note: I knocked the stopwatch. That showed how nervous I was ;p.

  6. 28 ml of espresso extracted in exactly 28 seconds

    look at the thick, beautiful looking crema *grin =D

  7. Frothing the milk
    If you are like me, a coffee-milk drinker (the ones who fancy latte, cappucino, flat white, etc), then frothing the milk perfectly would bring you great satisfaction (plus, you can make a decent hot chocolate afterwards ;p). There are two steps in frothing the milk. One, is to bring the frothing wand just under the milk surface, and start turning on the pressure gauge. Then, the beautiful hissing sound should be present, and after 35 degrees or so lift up the jug so that the frothing wand goes lower, heating the milk. After 60 degrees, kill the power (I mean, turn off the pressure gauge) and put your jug down. Leave it to rest for a bit (the temperature will rise until about 65-66 degrees, which is the optimum temperature, above that the milk will burn).
  8. Working the milk
    Because I have studied the art of coffee making, it really troubles me when I go to a cafe and order my latte, then sees the barista doesn’t work the milk before he or she pours it to the espresso. The frothed milk must be swirled to produce a smooth, silky milk. This also keeps the air bubbles to come down.
  9. Coffee Art
    Okay, I’m still struggling with this one. But I promise I’ll get there. It takes practice, I know, I know lol.

    First art attempt: heart-shape and... something.

    Making heart-shaped art, attempt #2. Well, at least it resembles a ‘heart’
    Heart-shape attempt #3. I sprinkle chocolate powder first, but it looks like the milk is burnt. it’s not! ;(
    Ehm, cappucino failure. a… circle? with too much foam? lol.
    heart shape and… something. cyclone?
    heart shape: yet another attempt…
    rosetta first attempt. oh weeeeellll….
    “hmm.. the rosetta seems lonely… ok. add a heart lol.”
    well, I guess, my most successful coffee. a broken heart (so sad…)

Phew, those are my tips, but I’m no expert. They are just the basic rules, and somehow it really troubles me now if the barista is just not skilful enough (I have become very selective on my coffee lately… which is not good…). Starbucks? Gloria Jeans? I never enter those stores again. Not. *gulp. Good.

So if they say that “Behind every successful man there is a woman,” Stephanie Piro, a woman, actually says, “Behind every successful woman there is a substantial amount of coffee.” Which is quite…. half-true. =D.

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6 thoughts on “for the love of coffee

  1. Joko Budiman says:

    Now I know why some of the women I met in wet market always look grumpy. Must be too much cafeine. I believe the core ingrident in anything you do is always love. Dun laugh I am serious.

  2. Hello there! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I genuinely enjoy
    reading through your blog posts. Can you suggest any other
    blogs/websites/forums that cover the same topics?
    Appreciate it!

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