Friday, October 23, 2009

Basic Training Part 6: Barista & Espresso Evaluation

For this, my final Barista Training post, I will very briefly discuss what is expected from the espresso bar Barista in terms of espresso quality. Please remember that these training posts are extremely abbreviated and simplified, so do not stop your process of developing your coffee knowledge and experience after these posts.

Baristas are responsible for the delivery of high-quality coffee beverages. Their skill in preparing these delicate drinks determines a large part of the overall outcome of the drinks prepared. Evaluating the Barista is done in conjunction with evaluating the drinks they prepare. This is how we evaluate espresso, a large part of the Barista’s job:

Espresso is pressure-brewed coffee. This method’s purpose is to extract vital oils and aromatic gases by forcing water under intense pressure through very finely ground coffee- creating an emulsion. Extracting the coffee’s oils and aromatic gases, suspended and infused within the water, creating a beverage that tastes just like how freshly roasted coffee smells, is the essence of espresso.
Four components for evaluating espresso (ordered by importance):

Taste: A Barista must know what proper espresso tastes like in order to replicate it properly.
Pour: The ideal pour will begin slowly, with a few drops, but will quickly become a thick and steady stream- like honey. Near the end of the pour, the color will shift to light amber from the original dark red. Extraction beyond this change will draw harsh flavors- called “over-extraction”. Pay close attention to the color, texture, and flow of the steams to control shot quality.
Crema: This is the foamy substance created through the release or coffee’s aromatic gases while trapped by the natural oils also released at the time of extraction. The desired crema will have identical color to that of the perfect pour. This color is a dark red with flecks of rust brown. If the crema is stirred, it should not dissipate, but recover.
Time: Shot timing should only be viewed within the context of the other factors. The ideal shot should take 20-30 seconds.

Lord, thank you for creating the person who invented the espresso machine and the magnificent coffee creation that it produces. Keep my head deflated and on straight. Here we go.

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