Caffeine is pretty important to busy folk, parents included. My favourite time of day when I’m at work is about 2:30, that’s when I really need an epic brew to see me through, especially if it’s been a bad night with teething the night before.
Today’s blog post is brought to you by my bro, he booked himself on a barista course a few weeks ago and I asked him to share a few pointers:
My week is made up of studying chemistry, climbing, and AA meetings, the latter usually go something like this:
‘Hello, my name is John, I’m 22 years old and I’m addicted to coffee.’
Arabica Anonymous groups may not exist yet, but they’re most definitely a concept I’m thinking of holding if I ever own a coffee shop.
When my sister asked me to guest on her blog regarding coffee, and the things I learned on a recent Barista Training course I attended at Pumphrey’s in Blaydon, I was kind of deer-in-headlights. What with university deadlines, pending exams, bar work, and the countless other pastimes that seem to make up my early twenties, what the hell do I know about blog writing?
I’d first state that if you ever want to drink coffee from Starbucks, Costa, or any of the other various high street purveyors of fresh ground espresso based coffees whom could be named, never (no, seriously, NEVER) attend one of these courses. A true espresso is an art; flavoursome, full bodied, and the best way to savour coffee beans, and unfortunately, the giants of the high street manage to butcher this.
Being taught that correct extraction time is supposed to take in the ballpark of 27 seconds has led to subconscious timing whilst I sit waiting for friends to arrive in coffee shops in Sheffield. I silently sit and judge baristas if their puck (the disk of leftover coffee grounds post-extraction of espresso) doesn’t drop out in a perfect round, whether it be too wet where it hasn’t been tamped (packed down) properly or they’ve used too little a mass of coffee, or not fine enough a grind. And I attempt to place names to the various nuances in the flavour of beans.
So, what exactly did I take from the course other than a development of next level espresso snobbery?
- Leaving ground coffee in the open air for more than a few minutes leads to a large loss of flavour, oxidation happens, oils evaporate and overall you’ll wind up with coffee lacking body. Store coffee in a sealed bag, with minimal air left in the bag, and preferably as fresh beans (although I do get that it may be a pain and mean you need to wake up that bit earlier to make a brew in the morning, I promise you it is worth it)
- Money is better spent on a decent electric grinder than a ridiculously over the top espresso machine (and by that I mean the more even the grind, the better the espresso you’re going to extract, you aren’t going to be making a brilliant coffee regardless of how good your machine is if you are putting rubbish into it)
- Rather than trying to get this down to an art at home on your own, it is more than well worth while getting yourself on a course. Although it sounds rather expensive (£84 for the course I attended) the volume of materials you use would more than definitely set you back a fair bit, and of course, you have instruction on top of that.
If you can’t afford an espresso machine (whether this be monetarily, or owing to kitchen workspace) filter, siphon, moka pot and aeropress coffee makers are all viable alternatives (although none of them produce a true espresso) and make fantastic coffee when handled correctly.
- Aside from this, I’m going to take a second to hope you’re reading right up until the end of the blog in order that I can try and promote artisan coffee shops. Caffeine magazine (which you can pick up in a number of the small independent coffee retailers) is a beautiful and free source of coffee based information, and usually has advertisements and a list of coffee shops that stock it. Given that the only two coffee shops I have visited that stock it are known for their craft, I can only but assume that the distribution list is a rough who’s who of the UK coffee scene, and I would suggest you check out their website (http://www.caffeinemag.com/findus/)
Anyway, hopefully that is enough for my first (only?) (Ed: nah, I’ll get him on here again!) blog post. I’m also hoping it was what my sister was after from me, otherwise I’ve just wasted quite a long time where I could have been avoiding uni work…
Thanks John for a great first blog post, look forward to you making me an epic brew next time you’re home!