…a coffee shop journal…
There is something about that first brew of the day…..the shop fills with that sweet aroma that each and every customer craves that are coffee shop lovers at heart……even those that do not drink coffee are exhilarated by the aroma of fresh brewed coffee…for me my morning is not complete until I have had my perfect latte.
After everything is ready for the day….and…I am ready to begin to journal…. I begin the ceremony…. To make…. the perfect latte…
Most important…. in any great coffee shop… the coffee MUST be fresh…
First step ~ the grind ~the grind texture is a very important aspect of shot quality: If it’s too fine, it will result in a slow, over-extracted shot that can taste bitter and burnt; if it’s too coarse, it will be a fast, under-extracted shot with a weak and watery consistency and sour notes…
Second step ~the perfect dose~ the ground coffee beans that are put into the portafilter must be 14-18 grams~ we let our grinder determine that as it is set for a specific dose and then …
Third Step~ the tamp ~ this step ensures uniformity of extraction of the shot by leveling and packing the grounds to ensure equal, consistent water contact as it is forced through the coffee. The proper tamp method is to hold your elbow at 90 degrees, rest your portafilter on a level surface and then apply 30 lbs of pressure until the coffee has an even and polished look. If you ever watch your barista make your drink you have heard or seen each of these steps so far….
Fourth Step ~time the shot – this is a critical component of learning how to pull a perfect shot. We initiate the pull, set the timer and watch carefully. If the dose, grind and tamp are ideal, the first part of the brew will be dark, then turn into a golden brown/foamy mixture (the crema) that flows into the cup in a thin, curly stream that is just strong enough to hold together. The volume of water for each shot should be 1 oz …the brewing time we are looking for is between 20 – 30 seconds, so if the shot is running too long or too short we must check the grind, dose and tamp, and adjust it accordingly. If your shots are coming out unevenly from both spouts the tamp needs to be more even.
The perfect shot has a fine golden crema atop a rich dark brew that tastes sweet and smooth.
Let me make a few side notes here about our coffee shop…we use Batdorf and Bronson’s Dancing Goats blend as our espresso and Francesca our lovely espresso machine is a La Maazocco –we of course believe these are both the very best one can have! We train our baristas to be attentive to each and every one of these processes to insure our customers the VERY BEST coffee experience ….
So now we have the perfect shot …but alas …..the final step for the perfect latte
Fifth Step~the milk~while the shot is being pulled a pitcher of milk with just the right amount in it is put under the steamer ..a barista should never hear loud hissing just the calm churning of the milk the end goal is to have a shiny, creamy, sweet milk …and then…..
Final Step~ the shots are poured into the cup and then the creamy yummy milk is slowly poured into the cup, the weight of the milk which is now heavier…. drops to the bottom of the cup…. blending with the espresso it creates shades of brown, beige and cream~ it is this process that gives you the perfect latte right to the last drop and then at about half way filled I begin to gently move the pitcher back and forth back and a design begins to take place on the top just as it is almost filled I swoop the last drops of milk across the design and there it is… my morning love…. a perfect heart appears……it says good morning JoAnn …..what a wonderful life you have…..and where else would you want to be right now?…..ahhhhh the life of the barista~~~
Much of what I do in my life has similar steps…all steps leading to what ~~some may call perfectionism —or maybe it’s just a desire to do better~~ I simply call it doing the very best I can! I want each and ever customer to have an incredible experience…..with every sense!
I imagine this could drive some people crazy (just ask Rick or Shana or Zoe or Candice)…..but then again Rick is a bit of a perfectionist as well…one only needs to look at his art or many projects to see that…nothing is ever half baked in our lives! But it is never over cooked either…….
I spent a lot of time talking about the perfect latte but oddly enough .. I could write another page or two on how coffee grows and is roasted as well.
Did you know that there is only about 1 lb of beans per coffee plant? Small independent farmers own most coffee plantations and their entire family work them. The coffee cherries are picked by hand, washed, each cherry has 2 beans in it ( yes just 2) they are then separated from the skin of the cherry, dried , washed again, graded…..it takes weeks for the full process ..you get the picture and this is just to have a green bean which is then exported to US for roasting and then I could write another 2 or 3 pages on roasting the coffee ~ the equipment involved ,the roasting time, the temperature, of course they need good beans to begin with….. but the coffee bean is not my expertise I leave that to our expert coffee roasters Batdorf and Bronson and their incredible coffee plantation partners from around the world—but believe me when I say this……..
We call ourselves a specialty coffee shop and we are grateful for every person from the growers to the roasters…and finally to our trained baristas. The next time you come in our shop and look at our very artistic coffee board menu filled with lattes, cappuccinos, frappes, and too many flavors to name …and you say…
“I think I’ll just have a plain cup of coffee”
…I hope by my writing this and you taking the time to read it …. that you will know …..there is no such thing as a plain cup of coffee… even the daily brewed drip coffee itself has had numerous hands involved and they all take pride in their part ….
I believe there really is nothing ‘plain’ in this world …… hopefully people are all doing the very best they can… in every aspect of every thing they do……whether you bag groceries, make a product, provide a service, own a corporation, are a housewife or househusband, ditch digger, ballet dancer or circus clown there are always other people who have made what each and every one of you do, hopefully just a little bit better and maybe even a bit more creative……..here’s to that first brew of the day…….
about the author…JoAnn
I am an accomplished artist, designer and gardener with an admitted compulsion for natural intuitive healing and a spiritual connection with the earth. I am a lifelong serial entrepreneur, a creator of extraordinary ideas, and soon to be published author …..let the dreaming begin….