I’m back again
I wanted to write today about one of my many passions as of late; coffee. I work as a Barista, and I thought that I would share some of my musings that come into my head while I whoosh and bang and pour my way around my lovely machine everyday.
Coffee is a strange concoction really. There are few people are strong-willed enough to take it straight, unless of course you live in a country with an established coffee culture, in which case you will probably be laughing silently at my above statement.
So how should I take my coffee then?
Well, anyway that you prefer it really. Your barista is highly likely to be judging you completely based on what you order, but you probably shouldn’t care because taste is an important thing, and there’s absolutely no guarantee that their taste isn’t going to be horrifyingly awful as you try and sip down an “acceptable adult coffee” without grimacing.
Confession: I don’t like strong coffee.
Is that blasphemy?
I am that barista. I just can’t stand the bitter taste of black coffee. However, my sweet tooth means that I get to access the Willy Wonka world of everything else that hides in the barista toolbox – syrups, powders, sugar, blends, you name it, some barista out there has probably attempted to create a successful beverage with it; and it’s probably as magical as you could dream of (I mean whisky, smooth latte milk, a hit of rich espresso and a dusting of chocolate, what more could you want?)
So is there a limit to what is acceptable in messing around coffee? There is a extremely delicate art to brewing the perfect cup of coffee, it’s not as simple as just pressing a button, or dare I say it, mixing instant coffee beans with hot water.
Each step of the process that your barista follows is extremely controlled and balanced; the temperature of the milk, the angle at which it is steamed, the exact balance of foam/shine to the milk itself, the fat content within the milk is important (low or non-fat milk does not steam as well as full fat milk, and it also separates much faster), the pressure of the steam that heats the milk, the grind of the espresso, and the pressure of the water which filters it into an espresso shot and so on and so forth.
It’s also important to consider different taste palates too; my barista virginity was taken by the super-brand Starbucks, a world of sugary, yet surprisingly interesting coffee beverages. However the Starbucks in which I began my coffee journey served wildly different coffee to the independent cafe in which my coffee journey continues. The coffee culture is also vastly different. My customers expect something different, richer, darker, a more satisfying gulp of coffee, as opposed to an ‘on-the-go’ refuel.
I had freedom at Starbucks to experiment, but as an independent Barista I can showcase my experiments, and it’s an ongoing self-competition to find the next best flavour. I guess you could compare it to chefs competing to have the next culinary masterpiece.
Truthfully, if I could make every drink beautiful I would aim for every single beverage to be considered
or drink porn if you’re going to be technical.
Because I think psychologically some things taste even better if they look amazing, and you can bet that if you ask for cream, marshmellows, the whole works, that your cup will literally be oozing cream, melting marshmellows, warm, delicious foam too; why?
Because I can.
And I think that’s the best thing about being a barista.
Want to call that squiggle of foam a broccoli?
Want to draw your regular customer out of their shell and help them experience a new world of taste sensations?
Because you can.
And honestly if you can, absolutely go and learn a little bit more about your favourite hot drink of choice, because it is worth the while, and who knows, you might just end up getting hooked. Like me.
And you should, because it’s so satisfying when the squiggle in your wrist because something beautiful, I’m no Latte Artist yet, but my two squiggles below aren’t too shabby really.
P.s. If you like my coffee musings, leave me a comment below, I’m thinking of doing a regular post called The Coffee Diaries, and I would love to know if you think it’s worth pursuing.