The Barista Tips

The Art of coffee making is a well travelled topic and one that is never subjected to secrecy or tightly guarded in Pandorra chest, under lock and key. It has been well presented and communicated by practicing Barista/s and industry experts and through cultural differences and changes in technology, method of brewing and preparation begins escalating to a higher level. Although we all starts with the same basic, the same 'we' also starts to have our own best practices. Let me walk the talk and share some tips along the way. This is entirely for reference only and not to be mistaken as an expert opinion. After all, we have our own views and practices.

Last Updated on  15/12/13

1) Believe in G.O.D - You may have the best equipments, coffee and people but it all counts to nothing if you don't Grind On Demand!! Coffee beans release the most of it's flavor (Ed note- Volatile aroma compounds which is release and enhancing taste in a cup) especially after grinding. Coffee begin losing flavours immediately after grinding; volatile compounds are retained by melanoidins and polar polysaccharides within the cell wall. Once cell walls are broken, (through the actions of grinding)this volatiles evaporates.
So grind only when you are brewing. If all these explanations don't ring a bell, then just understand that excessive grinding can also caused wastages at the end of the work day. If you plan to keep it for the next day, i have no other advice for you! =)

2) Basket to Gasket, Finger to Ringer - This is the easiest phrase to remember an action that is simple yet most misunderstood. The basket to gasket is referring to the porter filter basket where coffee is tamped into while gasket here refers to the grouphead that hold your porter and brew the shots. Finger to ringer; Is the action of the Barista dialing the switches which introduces the water for brewing.

This phrase is a reminder that this action of lock and load is an immediate one with no delayed lapse in between. Leaving the coffee locked but not loaded even if only for 10 seconds is a frowned upon action.Even in WBC scores sheets, there r technical point for immediate brewing. Here, we try to avoid the coffee from burning or scalding. The group head is at least 98 deg to 110 deg and just like measuring milk temmp with our palms while frothing, what our hands can't bear, that is the treshold of the heat pain.if you wish to know if not practicing immediate brewing really burn you coffee or not, th simple test is to use all your fingers to touched the gasket for 10secs!! If it burns and hurt, trust me, do your coffee.

3) The 4 Enemies of Coffee- Roasted coffee are fresh produce without preservatives. They won't last long and every roasters worth their salt will advise you to brew it within a month of the roast date. Again, this brewing guideline is considered very conservative as many even recommeding consumers to brew within 2 weeks. Whether it is 7 days, 2 weeks or a month, the best coffee in the world will count for nothing should they, after being roasted are exposed to Heat, Oxygen, Moisture and Light. Once a bag of coffee is opened up, the risk of being exposed to one of these four is high. If we could of course finish an opened bag within the same day, that will be great and if not, i recommend to purchase coffee in smaller 250gm packaging to minimise the exposure. Storing the opened coffee in the actual coffee bag (with degassing valve) and then putting the whole bag in an opaque, air-tight container helps to extend the freshness a little.

4) Espresso Grinder- INVEST IN A VERY, VERY GOOD GRINDER PLEASE. IT DOES NOT MATTER IF YOU HIRE A BARISTA CHAMPION IN THE HOUSE, PROCURE THE BEST BEANS BY THE BEST ROASTER OR GOT YOURSELF AN EXPENSIVE, STATE OF THE ART SPIRIT, SLAYER OR STRADA ESPRESSO MACHINES. POOR GRINDER DONT ACHIEVE RESULTS. PERIOD!

5) Hire the Right People- Refer to my blog on this topic on the 12.04.13. People is important to build your coffee empire. The right people that is.

6) Trim the Rim- A Barista did everything right from grinding on demand, dosing and grooming the coffee grounds before tamping, then locking the porter filter into the group head with much grace. He or She did not wipe down the grounds sitting on the rim of the basket as well as that on the ears of the porterfilter. This action is akin to buying a good soccer shoes, choosing the right size that fits the foot shape and putting it on for a game but not bothering to tie the shoelace. Simple - the footballer trips on the lace and fall.

Loose grounds around the rims creates gaps in between the rims and rubber gasket. The gasket function in creating a seal when the porter filter is locked into the group head, and as soon as the water is introduced, brewing takes place with no leakages or loss of pressure, resulting in a good shot as well as preventing burns from the hot water escaping out of the seal.