Monday, August 28, 2006

Photos From Guatam

Recently Guatam Ks (Current Indian Barista Champion) sent me some pictures from his trip to Australia. I had the opportunity to show him around some of my regular haunts when he came to Melbourne.

I have posted them on my flickr account here

Sign posting preparation of a great coffee

Recently I wrote an article for Bean Scene Magazine, the focus being on how cafes can ensure their customers are made aware of the efforts they go through to prepare great coffee. As much of what I do when visiting a cafe is to take notice of the surrounds, staff and coffee; this required a discussion of what contributes to the preparation of great coffee in a café. I have provided an excerpt of the article here as I consider it potentially useful to cafe owners that may read this blog.

"The tell tale signs of a great coffee in the making."

A Passionate barista
Baristas that take pride in their work and are meticulous in their method are likely to produce a better coffee. A good way to identify the level of enthusiasm from the barista to prepare a great coffee is to ask them a couple of questions about what is in their blend, when the coffee was roasted or if they enjoy working on the particular brand of coffee machine being used in the store generally gives a discernable reaction.

Espresso preparation method
There are some key actions in barista method that signpost the preparation of great coffee.

Hot Portafilters
Portafilters should be stored in the groups when not in use and cleaned with a dry cloth before dosing.

Freshly grinding coffee
Coffee shouold be ground fresh for each order. Even in the busiest cafes a competent barista will organise their workflow to freshly grind coffee for the preparation of each order. Coffee begins to lose volatile aromas and flavours shortly after being grounds so the auto grind function on grinders will be avoided by a good barista.

Using a Tamper
A competent barista knows the importance of ensuring the coffee is evenly distributed in the basket prior to extraction – they use a tamper to distribute and compact the coffee evenly such that an even extraction is produced.

Rinsing the group
The groups should be purged with a burst of water prior to each extraction to clear spent coffee grinds from the dispersion screen and ensure there is no build up of steam in the coffee machine that may burn the coffee.

Using small milk jugs.
A competent barista will avoid having residual milk left over after foaming by using milk jugs appropriate to the number of cups being made. Yes, even in busy cafes! Due to a lower volume of milk, smaller jugs take less time to heat.

Purging and wiping the steam wand
The steam wand should be cleaned each time milk is foamed to remove any residual milk after foaming and any build up of condensed moisture.

Texturing Milk
A competent barista will not bob the milk during foaming, but rather seek to create a whirlpool effect in the milk jug and introduce any air as early on in the foaming process, using the spinning pattern to remove any large air bubbles. The milk should be heated to no more than 65 degrees and a free pouring barista may choose to pour latte art (designs in the crema of the coffee with milk).

The barista should clean up the preparation area and equipment as they go.

Prompt Service
Coffees should be delivered to the customer as soon as possible after preparation. Coffee deteriorates quickly after preparation, so the sooner the coffee is made available to the customer after preparation, the better it will taste!

I hope the info I have provided here is useful - For further information refer to the next edition of Bean Scene.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Fair Trade vs Direct Trade

There has been a lot of discussion over fairtrade recently in a number of coffee related discussion forums e.g.here, and here. Recently I became aware of a response written by Geoff Watts (a green coffee buyer for Intelligencia coffee) to criticism he received in relation to engaging in Direct trade relationships and not supporting fair trade with the display of the fair trade logo. Geoff's response provides an informed, constructive and insightful look into considerations surrounding the issue. The original article featuring comments from Geoff Watts was posted in the New York Times.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Secret

I watched a movie tonight that I would recommend watching called "The Secret". In some ways similar to the movie "What the bleep do we know?". Touching on quantum physics, the premise of "the secret" is the interconnectivity of all things and the "Law of Attraction". Essentially you attract into your life what you focus on - good or bad. So practically speaking, stop thinking about the bad things in your life, identify the good things you would like and the good you already have now - you will attract even more! hmmm... maybe I should start thinking of having a great coffee... :o)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

AASCA Conference, Aroma Rocks Festival & Black Gold Update

Sorry for the delay since my last post. Been a bit hectic since arriving back from Sydney after a week touring Sydney, participating in the ICTF trade show and the latte art competition held as part of the Aroma rocks festival.

Check out the photos here

The trip was great, got the opportunity to be introduced to Klaus Thomsen (current world barista champion), Gautam KS - the indian barista champion and two russion baristas (from coffee mania in Moscow) on exchange with AASCA. It was also a great opportunity to become even better acquainted with Sydney's Cafe Scene. My travels took me to Campos, Mecca, Tobys Estate, Voodoo Espresso, and Sapphos. I was also shown great hospitality by Hazel De Los Reyes of Coffee Alchemy (2005 Australian Barista Champion), trying some single origins at her roastery including a beautiful Ethiopean Limu (whilst snacking on a muffin or two!).

Check out some of the photos here

I came back just in time to help out at the Black Gold Premier held at the Greater Union Cinemas on Monday as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival. It was a packed house, we were able to sell a Black Gold Blend - 25% of the proceeds being given back to the coffee farmers cooperative union featured in the movie. There are also a number of cafes that have generously offered to pass on proceeds from the sale of cups of black gold espresso in their store.

I have posted some pictures of the premier here