Last week I was back on the tools for a few days, bringing coffee to the masses, when a customer sheepishly asked me a question. "So, is coffee an art or a science?"
I can't remember exactly how I responded... from memory I laughed, said something like "it depends who you ask" and poured a rosetta in his latte for him. He seemed satisfied with this answer but it is a question that comes up fairly often in the industry. Some baristas approach coffee with a lab coat and safety glasses; drooling over their new set of precision scales, obsessing over micrograms, ratios, refractometers and the like. Others, take a fluid approach, "feeling" their way to the infamous "god shot" and view scales and timers as a form of cheating their art. How should we view coffee and the role of the barista? Are they are a scientist or an artist?