Wednesday, October 17, 2012


One of the more interesting gifts I received for my birthday this year was an in-home barista class. This involved a half dozen friends, a talented barista, her $3000 espresso machine, many litres of special coffee milk (from especially jittery cows, I suppose) and so much strong coffee that I didn’t get to sleep until 2am.

Our teacher in all things caffeinated was The Coffee Queen (as it states on her business cards), and she patiently took us through grinding, tamping, expressing, steaming, pouring, and the basics of latte art, which appears to have something to do with swans and/or witchcraft.

I was very keen to benefit from the Coffee Queen’s wisdom, as my coffee tastes like it’s been forced through an old shoe into an even older shoe. And in due course, I discovered where I was going wrong. My grind was too coarse, due mostly to my cheap coffee grinder. I was allowing bitter dregs to seep into my coffee after the pour. My water wasn’t filtered. The tank hadn’t been cleaned. I was using the wrong milk. I wasn’t letting the machine warm up enough. I was leaving the grounds in contact with the head too long. I wasn’t tamping hard enough. I was allowing my milk and foam to separate...

Basically an Indonesian civet with diarrhoea and a hotplate could make better coffee than me.

I must be said, however, that after going through the class and changing my coffee-defiling ways, I’ve noticed that my coffee does taste a lot better. Of course, the fact that I went out the next day and spent $150 on a new grinder, a water filter and some espresso machine cleaner may have had something to do with it.


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