It has taken awhile, but the day has finally arrived to start talking about that special little guy in our lives that we all love so so much: the humble coffee bean.
Looking at my cup of coffee this morning, it's humbling to reflect on how many passionate hands were involved in getting this coffee into my hands.... From farmers, high up in hills, caring for their farms, shipped all around the world and roasted locally, perfectly, to reach my cup.
This industry just keeps on pushing the boundaries of quality at every level of the chain and with this, the expectations of discerning consumers keeps getting higher and higher. All you have to do is watch some of the amazing World Barista Championship (WBC) performances this week at Rimini Beach to see it for yourself!
Now, although all of this progression and advancement is amazing, it can also be pretty daunting to the average Joe. This is one part of the coffee world that I really want to focus on with this blog. To be honest the majority of the coffee talk I find online would go straight over the heads of most coffee drinkers. Even for a coffee professional, I find some of the detail and complexity daunting and requiring further research! That's part of the beauty of this industry...no matter what you know, or think you know, you can guarantee there's someone else out there who knows more, or sees things differently from yourself. There's always something to learn! So here's what we are going to do.
We'll get back to basics first off, but I'm not just going to talk about the what and the how, but the why!
Why the why? Because armed with this knowledge you can tweak your own techniques and understand what you're trying to achieve and push your own boundaries. For myself, when I was a novice learning the trade, why was a question that often wasn't answered purely because the why wasn't known by those teaching me. Luckily I found others who did.
From experience, without knowing the why, it is very easy to get lazy and make basic errors to the detriment of flavour. I've made a few and seen a few myself over the years. Most are very easy to correct. I remember one particular occasion where a barista who shall remain nameless (it wasn't me, thankfully), decided to pre-load all of his baskets with coffee and leave them in the machine for up to an hour before extracting the shot! Needless to say the results weren't great! And... if you are currently doing this... please keep reading this blog... You'll thank me later!
So we're actually going to look at the theory behind the techniques and processes you read about and watch on youtube. All in all, coffee is a pretty simple concept...
water + ground beans = a golden brown nectar called coffee.
How we get to that cup though is where it gets interesting. There are many different paths that lead to that intoxicating liquid that has become a part of our everyday lives. But it all starts in the same place: water + ground beans = coffee.
Now for some the result will be achieved with a cup of boiling water, spoonful of Nescafe, couple of sugars, dash of milk and a stir (I'll be assuming if you've read this far then this isn't you). For others it will take them all the way to the beaches of Rimini competing in the WBC. (Check out the live stream here)
For anyone of you in between though, I hope you find some information here to inspire you to explore, experiment and experience amazing results. But before we get started I think I'll need another coffee...
Now, where did I put that Aeropress...
the Home Ground Barista