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Barista Basics - Articles

Grind It, Baby - Eat Drink Magazine, May 2004

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Grind It, Baby

You can be a world barista champion, have AAA Grade Arabica beans, froth milk like a legend and be working on the most hi-tech Italian espresso machine but your coffee will taste awful if your grind is incorrect. Differences in the humidity in the air and atmospheric pressure mean that it will have to change almost every day.

If you are working on a commercial espresso machine and grinder, ensure that you are adjusting the grind on a twice-daily basis to ensure that your 30ml shot comes out in 30seconds (the 30ml-in-30seconds rule). Turn the collar on the grinder and make the particle size finer if it is coming out too quickly (for example 15 seconds) and make it courser if coming out too slowly (ie 45 seconds). A quick pour will yield a weak coffee with little crema and a slow pour will yield a strong, bitter coffee with a dark, bubbly and inconsistent-coloured crema. The water from the group will have spent just long enough to produce a beautifully extracted espresso if it has spent 30 seconds running through the compacted coffee and into your cup.

At home, it is a little more difficult to get the 30second pour if you are buying your coffee already pre-ground. The only way you can influence the pour rate is by altering how heavily or lightly you compact the coffee before you insert it into the group. If your espresso is pouring too quickly, pack harder, if too slowly, pack more lightly. If you want to get serious about your coffee you should invest in a grinder but make sure you are able to adjust the particle size of the coffee (read between the lines – don’t get a cheapie!).


Matthew Gee and brother David Gee run Barista Basics Coffee Academy in Artarmon, Sydney. Their purpose-built facility focuses on teaching people how to use commercial espresso machines and grinders as well as domestic coffee machines. They have just written a book on coffee entitled bean there, drunk that... and several instructional videos including one entitled Latte Art and Presentation Techniques. They also run a wholesale coffee company and own an espresso bar in Brisbane. web: ph: 1300 366 218


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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