Baristas who know their stuff

As I dropped off some coffee with one of our customers this evening I was greeted enthusiastically by a member of staff who wanted me to try the espresso.  As a new customer to us, they are only just beginning to understand the importance of dialling in the grinder on a daily basis.  This involves making sure the grinder and espresso machine are working together to produce a shot of espresso according to the agreed parameters for the establishment.  The member of staff had made a concerted effort to dial in the grinder earlier in the day and was quoting the parameters to me, something along these lines:

The grinder gave me a dose of 16.5g and the shot time was 32 seconds.  The end weight of the espresso was 38g, which I know is a little heavy.

He seemed concerned that the the end espresso weight was at 38g as we’ve tended to work to a 32g espresso at this particular establishment.  This led into a discussion on the flavour of the espresso which he had really enjoyed.  At that point I was served an espresso and I was obviously asked for an opinion.  The shot had a bright acidity at the front end which I really like, and the body was really creamy and coating.  The fruity tones of the natural Yirgacheffe really came through in the shot, and as the espresso cooled you could begin to appreciate the sweetness. He’d done a pretty good job.

Discussions such as these are a very rewarding part of running our business.  They don’t happen often enough but we are beginning to see a number of baristas, who have been through our training, and are beginning to take a genuine interest in the coffee they serve.  This is a far cry from ‘baristas’ who press buttons on espresso machines, pretty much relying on luck to produce a good shot of espresso and usually content that the beverage served is the right colour and has a crema!

We’ll continue to support the development of barista knowledge in Cumbria through our training and on-site support.  It’s a huge commitment for a small business and we do not charge our customers for this time.  Hopefully the reward for this effort will be more discussions like this and more baristas who genuinely deserve to carry that title.

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