Seriously Coffee

Very often, I'm marvelled by many things in this world like, how tunnels are dugged, how bridges are built across the sea, how mega structures are constructed etc. Have you ever wondered about these, like me? Maybe I'm just inquisitive and curious about such technologies. I supposed that was also part of the reasons why I like to attend workshops, so that I can learn about the art and science of baking.

For someone who loves cakes and pastries, it meant, naturally, I also love coffee too! Coffee and pastries (and cakes) are complementary to each other. I think only one of out four persons don't drink coffee. Yes? No? I cannot imagine having my cake without a cup of latte or cappa when I'm in a cafe.

Precisely for this reason, I signed up for a Barista workshop! After surfing the web, I found this: Highlander Coffee. I was interested in their Combined Espresso Workshops (Pro Level I and II), which comes with a free book too! Having reviewed the availability of the dates carefully, I signed up for two places - my hubby and myself.

Finally, the day has arrived. I've been looking forward for this workshop since my last workshop in early September. Day one started with knowing the different types of coffee beans, how best they are extracted, how to use the espresso machine, how to stream and foam milk, and, my favourite part, latte art. Day two was practicing the gourmet coffee brewing, practical and theory test, and cupping.

On day one, we were shown how to use the espresso machine, the step-by-step on the preparation from coffee beans to cappuccino, and how to manoeuvre the cup and the milk jug to get the desired design for presentation (known as latte art). It was really a form of skill and practices to get the right latte art, just like baking! The different types of gourment coffee were explained and demonstrated - Espresso, Cappuccino, Macchiato, Latte, Mocha and Americano. Okay, the envious part, we get to drink all those gourmet coffees that we brewed! However, many of us, after two or three cups, didn't want to drink them anymore! Hahaha... so what did we do with those coffees that we brewed? We threw them away! We practiced cappuccino and cafe latte all those time.

Demonstrated by the Barista

Brewing and steaming ourselves

Steaming and foaming the milk

These were some of the gourmet coffees done by me over two evenings.

Latte Art done by my hubby.

Come day two, we took our theory test, followed by practicing the step-by-step as taught, getting ready for our practical test. I found it easier to brew latte than cappuccino. Why? Because for latte, I can pour in more milk, followed by some foam to form my latte art, whereas for cappuccino, the cup is too so small. By the time I wanted to pour my foam to form the latte art, it was filled to the brim already! Aiyo! However, I realised most of the people there preferred cappuccino. During my practical test, I made two lattes, whereas the rest of them made cappuccino. Looks like latte was actually more difficult as we need to steam the milk twice, individually for each cup. For cappuccino, as the cup is smaller, we were taught to use a bigger milk jug (20oz) to steam and foam, then do a milk share which means pouring half into a smaller jug (12oz). For latte, two 12oz milk jug were used for two cups.

These were my lattes produced for my practical test!

After our test, more theory was conducted. It was cupping. Cupping to coffee is like Wine tasting to wine. We were given two different freshly grind coffee powder to assess its aroma and flavour. It was rather interesting. The two types which were given to us were Brazil and Kenya. This is roughly how the process of cupping goes:

1) Take a spoon of the coffee and slurped it into the mouth.
2) Let it roll inside the mouth, then split it out.

We did that a couple of times to get use to the taste and assess which one we would prefer. There was no right or wrong, the taste is very subjective for each individual.

Through this Barista Workshop, I've learnt a lot more about coffee. Being a coffee drinker (no 3-in-1s or instant coffees) for so long, I've finally appreciate coffee more and respect Barista more and look at gourmet coffee in a different way. Coffee drinking, according to Phil, the owner, has evolved over the years. I can't agree more.

I hope to share with you, some of the knowledge of coffee I've learnt in the (total) eight hours.

1) Commercially grown coffee beans are Arabica and Robusta. Arabica has the highest in quality and has the most flavour and aroma. Robusta are the least flavour and most caffeine. It is usually used in instant coffees.

2) Once coffee beans have been opened from their airtight bags, they should be stored in a clean airtight container in a cool dark and dry place.

3) Normal french press or coffee maker cannot produce espresso. Espresso refers to a special method of preparing coffee...hard packed into a small metal filter basket...specialize machine which drives the moving water through the coffee ground under significant pressure...releases oil from the coffee producing a thick concentrated extract.

4) Grind coffee beans only upon demand to stay fresh. The moment the coffee beans have been grinded, it'll start losing its flavour.

5) A good espresso takes about 20 - 30secs of extraction time.

6) To make good foam for the coffee, use fresh full cream milk.

7) Ideal temperature of the milk to start is cold, very cold from the chiller. Ideal foamed milk is at 65-70C.

8) Greatest exporter of coffee beans in the world, starting from the largest - Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia and Indonesia.

I hope such brief information is useful for gourmet coffee drinkers. At least you know what type of coffee beans to look for when you purchase your caffeine needs! Last but not least, this was the certificate I had attained. Anyone needs a barista or two?


Kitchen Corner said...
October 24, 2009 at 9:35 AM

Hi Jane,
I really admire you've got such passion to learn all the things! I could feel that you really really enjoy it. Can you share the joy with me? Give me a cup of caffe lattes please :P

Passionate About Baking said...
October 24, 2009 at 10:06 AM

Hi Grace,
Hahaha...only when time and money permits! Ya, let me practice at home first, and get espresso machine, so that I can make a nice cup of latte for you! ;)

quizzine said...
October 24, 2009 at 6:09 PM

So sweet of your hubby to accompany you for such event! I would love to have a hot aromatic cuppa right now ;-)

Passionate About Baking said...
October 24, 2009 at 9:57 PM

Hi quizzine,
Thanks! Yup, I sponsored, so he went! It's a win-win collaboration! Hahaha... Sure, next time, if I have the chance, I'll make good gourmet coffee for you! ;)

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