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Barista Basics - Articles

Cutting Edge Espresso - Bean Scene Magazine, Issue 8, 2005

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Appearing in Bean Scene Magazine,

Issue 8, 2005


Cutting-Edge Espresso


          The old v the new in espresso





There are a lot of people out there in café land who use outdated espresso techniques. Getting up to speed with modern trends in espresso is paramount in running a successful espresso bar. It will win you customers and increase your profits write David Gee and Matthew Gee.





A lot has changed in the world of coffee in the past ten years. Education and awareness will help to change outdated techniques but unless you are willing to change, you will be like the poor kid at school who listens to a 1990’s Sony walkman on his way home rather than a much better and cooler Apple iPod. We train thousands of people each year – our own staff, own wholesale coffee customers and members of the public who come to our courses and many people come in with preconceived notions of how the perfect coffee is made. Some swear black and blue that their customers love frothy-tops on their cappuccinos. Others want to know how to layer caffe lattes (layering went out with Miami Vice – didn’t they know?). Others want to froth milk like they’re milking a cow (you know the old up-down motion that we witness people doing sometimes?). In this article we explore some of the old v the new in espresso techniques in an effort to put you on the cutting edge.



Trying to make espresso without the correct tools is like trying to build a house with your bare hands – eventually you will get the job done but the finished product will be extremely shonky. With espresso not only is the finished product shonky but the more you make, the more inconsistent they become. We’re talking here about baristas using thermometers to froth their milk, spatulas to help them pour their milk, timers to periodically time their pour, tampers to compact their coffee and stencils (on occasion) to help create interest with chocolate powder on top of their cappuccinos, hot chocolates and mochas. We willl look at each tool now in turn and explain their relevance to the coffee-making process:

[1] Thermometers – these are placed near the handle of your 1-litre jug, facing you so that you can see the dial easily during the frothing process. You are aiming to achieve a temperature of 65 degrees C which actually means turning off the steam wand at 60 degrees C as the dial will wind up slightly after you have finished frothing your milk. Using a thermometer will ensure consistency in the temperature of your milk. You cannot get this without one. Picture a café that doesn’t use thermometers. Poor old Mary who walks in at 11am each morning to get her weak decaf flat white gets a luke-warm coffee one day, scalds her mouth the next day, gets a coffee the next day that feels almost OK but a little on the cool side and on the next day gets a coffee that she needs to wait five minutes for before she drinks it as it is just too hot. The reason that her coffees are all different temperatures is because four different baristas prepared her coffees on these days.

This particular Mary obviously has the patience of a saint because if it was us, one bad experience with the temperature of our coffee and we simply don’t go back to that café. And there are lots of people like us. The solution is simple – use a thermometer and everyone gets it right every time.<


Using the correct tools for the trade



Effective Barista Training, Tea and Coffee Asia, first quarter 2006
Coffee The Australian Way, Tea and Coffee Asia, fourth quarter 2005
In the End, It's All in the Blend, Bean Scene, Issue 10, 2005
Tools of the Trade, Bean Scene, Issue 10, 2005
The Starters Guide To Coffee, Bean Scene, Issue 9, 2005
Cutting Edge Espresso - Bean Scene Magazine, Issue 8, 2005
Postcards from Seattle - Bean Scene Magazine, Issue 8, 2005
Making Great Coffee At Home - Loreal's Club Matrix Magazine, Issue 2, 2004
Buying a Home Espresso Machine - Loreal's Club Matrix Magazine, Issue 3, 2005
Australians v Italians: Who Makes Better Coffee? - Bean Scene Magazine, Issue 6, 2004
The Decline of Tea and the Dethroning of the Flat White - Bean Scene Magazine, Issue 7, 2005
Coffee Indulgence - Loreals' Club Matrix Magazine, Issue 4, 2005
Coffee Appreciation
How to be a Gun Barista - Bean Scene, Issue 5, 2004
Affogato with a twist of Mocha - Australian Table, May 2004
Hygiene in the Café Environment - Bean Scene, Issue 3, 2004
Grind It, Baby - Eat Drink Magazine, May 2004
Coffee Myths, Dispelled!, Bean Scene, Issue 4, 2004
Coffee Art - Eatdrink Magazine, June 2004
Questions: Hospitality Magazine, May 2004


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