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Barista Training Basics

Understanding How the Coffee Bean Begins

Coffee beans actually begin as the seed of a cherry-like fruit that grows on a coffee tree. The fruit begins as a blossom, resembling a jasmine flower, which lasts only a few days. After the flower dies what remains is a small green coffee cherry. These green cherries turn yellow then to red then a deeper red almost to a black. Within 6-9 months the cherries are ready to be picked and shipped for processing.

First the fruit is removed from the seed by one of two methods, a natural or drying method or a wet method.

Drying Method - consists of drying the cherries in the sun. Once dried, the fruit is separated from the green bean. A mechanical husker is usually used for this process.

Wet Method - consists of a superior soaking method. This method produces beans that are referred to as washed coffees. The green beans are then dried, graded and selected. Beans are then labeled by grade, bagged and shipped to roasters around the world.


Two Types of Coffee Beans

Arabica - Arabica beans grow at high altitudes; they have the greatest flavor and are the most aromatic. Arabica beans have half the caffeine of the Robusta bean. Arabica beans produce 75% of the world's coffee trade, but only 10% meet specialty coffee standards.

Robusta - Robusta beans grow at lower elevations and are easier to grow. They yield more beans and produce a woodier, astringent flavor. They are used when either a lower price or additional caffeine is desired. Many times a small amount of Robusta beans are added to Italian blends for the additional crema and complexity they contribute.

Mixing together several types of coffees produces the best blends. Combined, they balance each other giving the best flavor and aroma.

Espresso has less than half the caffeine of brewed coffee merely because the amount of time the grounds are in contact with water is shorter.


Decaffination Methods

To avoid certain effects of caffeine, there are three methods designed to remove up to 97% of the caffeine from the bean.

Conventional Method - this process removes caffeine by soaking the beans in a chemical solvent. This method is no longer used due to health concerns.

Swiss Water Method - this process begins by soaking the beans in hot water. The hot water, after drawing out the flavor of the beans, is run through a carbon filter, which traps and removes the caffeine. New beans are then added to this water, because the water is already saturated in coffee, the caffeine is drawn out while the flavor of the coffee is preserved.

Co2 Method - This process decaffeinates the bean with liquid carbon dioxide, which can be pressurized and chilled acting like a gas and a liquid combined. The equipment needed for this process is so large it is difficult to accommodate smaller bean batches. This is generally used for volume not for taste.


Roasting and Blending

Drum Roasting - a drum, which is heated, by gas or wood, rotates the coffee beans while they are being roasted. When the desired roast is achieved, the beans are then poured into a cooling hopper so they won't overcook.

Hot Air Roasting - roasts the coffee beans as they tumble on a current of hot air.

Green coffees roast at 400 degrees.

Light roasts - generally not used for espresso, have a sharp, acidic taste.

Darker roasts - have a fuller flavor. The darker the roast, the more you will taste the char rather than the flavor of the bean.

Extreme dark roasts - have a smoky flavor and are better suited for brewed coffee.

Once beans are introduced to air they will begin to deteriorate. If properly stored, beans will stay fresh for 7-10 days. It is necessary to store beans in an airtight container in a cool dry place that is protected from light. Do not store in the refrigerator, as the coffee can absorb flavors.


Espresso Machines

Manual Espresso Machines - these machines require a lever, which the Barista controls. The lever is pushed down to force the water through the grounds.

Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines - an espresso machine that is manually controlled by the Barista. The Barista must start and stop the shot using an electronic switch, requiring careful watch and timing during the extraction process.

Automatic Espresso Machines - these machines are programmed to regulate the amount of water dispersed for each shot. The Barista must set up shots correctly and then push a programmed button to begin the extraction process. Careful watch is still required to ensure the pour is running correctly and the program stops extracting at the correct amount of time.

All espresso machines must produce 130 pounds of pressure and be able to reach between 192- 203 degrees.

Espresso Machine Group or Group Head - the group head is the part of the machine where all the magic takes place. Sometimes referred to as the brew group or brew head. This component is more commonly known simply as the group. This part is where you insert the portafilter when preparing to extract espresso. The group showers pressurized hot water through the diffusion plate over the bed of freshly ground and tamped espresso.

Portafilter - the portafilter is the device you grind coffee into and then place in the group to brew coffee. The name is easy to remember as long as you think of it as a portable filter (porta-filter) Also known as a filter handle, and that thingy you put the coffee into.

Portafilter Basket - the portafilter basket is the filter screen located in the portafilter. These come in both double and single sizes, and are held in place by a spring.

Group Gasket - The group gasket is a large rubber o-ring that seals the portafilter to the group. It is inserted into a groove machined into the group. Usually if the portafilter is leaking this is the part you need to replace.

Group Screen - the group screen is also located in the group. The group screen is sometimes referred to as a dispersion screen, shower screen or simply shower.

It is considered best practice to replace the Portafilter Basket, Group Gasket and Group Screen on a quartery basis or every three months or so.

Steam Wand - the steam wand is the part of the machine that you steam milk with. The steam wand is also known as a steam pipe. The steam wand is activated by the steam valve and steam valve knob or lever.

Steam Tip - The steam tip is located on the end of the steam wand. This is the part that disperses the steam from the wand into a splayed pattern allowing you to steam milk.

Hot Water Tap - Some call this the Americano wand or tap. It is simply a hot water tap. Call it what you will, this is where you dispense hot water.

Group Dosing Keypad - Dosing keypads are found on automatic and super automatic espresso machines. These are the buttons that you depress to activate the group head on the machine. The keypads show a legend of various dispense times and quantities as well as programming and continuous flow.

Group Dispense Switch - The dispense switch acts much the same as the dosing key pads, but is usually a simple on off switch located over the top of the group it actuates. Some automatic function machines also include a dispense button as an additional means of group operation.

Power Switch - The power switch on most espresso equipment is located on the backsplash of the machine. It is often indicated by a faceplate showing the numbers 1-0-2. The general position for full operation is the number 2 position.

Pressure Gauge - The pressure gauge is located on the front of the machine. It usually has two needles indicating both boiler pressure and pump operating pressure. This is an import part to be aware of as it monitors the health of your machine as well as the parameters of your coffee brewing temps and pressures.

Sight Glass - Most machines have a site glass. This part is located on the front of the machine and its purpose is to indicate the boilers water level. The site glass is typically a glass tube with water in it. It is marked with Maximum and Minimum markings.

Top of Machine - The vented top of the espresso machine was designed to keep ceramic cups warm prior to serving.

Drain Grate or Trough - Used with drip pan and drain, area where liquid drains.

Espresso Grinders

Burr grinders shave the coffee bean into precise microscopic flakes.

Espresso grinders also have a few specific part names. These names are important to know and you should have an understanding of each part's function.

Adjustment Ring or Knob - This is the part where you make changes to the grind size with reference to course or fine. The adjustment ring or knob is usually found it the area around the bean hopper.

Bean Hopper - This is the large clear plastic container located on top of the grinder.

Doser - The doser is the part of the grinder that holds the ground coffee. A lever is pulled to dispense the grounds into the portafilter.

Adjusting the grind - The grind is one of the essential components in creating the ultimate espresso beverage. You must only grind to order, as once coffee is ground it immediately starts to lose its flavor and aroma. You will need to monitor your grind constantly; you want to grind to a powder like consistency, with a slightly gritty feeling. If the grind is too coarse (fast) it will result in a sour, weak, watery taste, too fine (slow) will result in bitterness. Acid is the first thing extracted from the coffee, followed by sugar and eventually caffeine. The thickness of the crema determines the perfection of an espresso.

Water Purity

Being that Espresso is 90% water, water becomes a key essential ingredient in espresso preparation. Having a water filtration system becomes a must, especially in areas with hard water. Not having a filter will affect the taste of your espresso as well as the lifespan of your equipment.

Beginning of Day/Opening Shift Espresso Machine Set-Up

At the beginning of your day when setting up your machine, it is necessary to run shots through each portafilter. These shots are called "seasoning shots"¥. This is done to ensure that any debris, cleaning detergent, etc. that may have settled overnight in your machine is flushed out prior to making your first customers drink. At this time you will also be able to see where your grind is and make adjustments accordingly.


Espresso Extraction

The portafilter needs to remain in the machine at all times so as to retain the correct temperature when shots are to be pulled. Purging the machine gets residue out from the group head and helps the machine stay at the right temperature for extraction. Start by drying the portafilter basket with a dry towel, this helps remove old excess coffee, but more importantly it helps the packed coffee stick to the sides of the basket forming a water tight seal. Water likes to go where water already is so drying the portafilter ensures a good seal.

Fill portafilter so that the basket is overflowing with coffee. With the lid of the grinder doser, scrape the overflowing grounds leaving a slightly dipped, smooth look. Place the lid back on the doser and proceed with tamping procedures as follows.


Tamping

With elbow up in the air at a 90 degree angle, firmly pack grounds with hand tamp using 30 pounds of pressure. (Not having at least 30 pounds of pressure packing the grounds in the basket will create a loose pack, which will cause the water pressure to blow a hole into the grounds.) Use a downward twisting motion when coming up out of the tamp. Your goal is to have an even, level surface, which will force the water to go through the grounds evenly. If too much coffee is put in the basket, it doesn't leave enough room for expansion, which occurs before brewing. A gap is needed for the water to spread evenly over the surface of the grounds. Wipe off any excess grounds that sit loosely on top of and around edges of the basket. This will ensure a snug fit and will prevent damage to the rubber gasket located inside the group head. Purge the machine again before inserting portafilter into the group head, this helps machine regulate correct temperature for extraction. Judge your shots by the color and the crema. Your goal is to extract a rust colored crema that lasts for a long time. Extraction of shots should start out as a drip, drip then continue pouring in a syrup-like consistency about the width of angel hair pasta, lasting anywhere from 20-26 seconds.


Milk Steaming for Espresso Drink Building

There are two phases to steaming milk.

Phase 1 "Stretching" - Air is introduced to texture the milk.

Phase 2 "Steaming" - Milk is then heated up to bring out its caramelized sugars.

Properly textured and steamed milk will enhance the flavor, bringing out the sweetness in the espresso, and will deliver an almost dessert like quality.

Heating with steam alters the milks chemical composition and creates a different flavor that blends with the espresso perfectly.

Milk Steaming Tips

Always start with cold milk, keeping in mind that milk with a lower fat content is usually easier to texture.

Use the correct size pitcher for the amount of milk you are steaming.

Learn to pour only the amount of milk needed for the drink you are making in the most appropriate sized steaming pitcher. Keep in mind when pouring your milk that the amount you pour can expand to as much as double the original volume with steaming.

  1. Purge the steam wand.

  2. Start introducing air up to 100 degrees. This is achieved by holding the steam tip just under the surface of the milk,"stretching"¥ the milk while it is expanding.

  3. Begin to "roll"¥ the milk by plunging the steam wand entirely into the pitcher creating a rapid, swirling circulation. Bring the temperature up to 140 degrees or when pitcher is too hot to touch.

  4. Bang out any bubbles by hitting pitcher on counter, swirl the steamed milk to prevent separation from beginning to occur.

  5. When these steps are followed, "Latte Art" will become second nature.


Things to avoid while steaming: Bobbing the pitcher up and down,
Moving pitcher in circular motion,
Setting pitcher down while steaming

Inexperienced Barista often produce large, dry milk bubbles to be spooned on top of espresso creating a "Hot Milk Latte".

Your Goal is to create fine, velvety, small-celled, textured, foamed milk.


Traditional Espresso Beverage Definitions

Espresso - A straight shot

Doppio - A double shot, usually served straight

Americano - Espresso combined with hot water for a richly flavored coffee

Ristretto (Restricted Shot) - Shot pulled short

Lungo (Long Shot) - Shot pulled long

Macchiato - Straight shot with a dollop of steamed milk

Con Panna - Straight shot with a dollop of whip cream

Cappuccino - Traditionally made with 1/3 Espresso, 1/3 Milk and 1/3 Foam. Steam milk first, pull your shots, allow time for the milk to separate creating a "set, dry foam" Dry or Wet Cappucinos - Refer to the milk to foam ratio. More milk is wet. Dry, less.

Cafe Au Lait - Equal parts brewed coffee and steamed milk


Espressop Machine Cleaning and Maintenance

Soak portafilters and baskets separately, in hot water with Purocaff or other espresso machine detergent for several minutes. Make sure the handles are not exposed to the cleaner as the detergent will damage handles. Rinse with hot water. Back flush using blind filter and Purocaff. Turn water on for 10 seconds, stop then turn on for an additional 10 seconds. Continue this procedure until water becomes clear. Back flush again using same procedure, without using any detergent. Scrub inside of group head. Wash drain trays, portafilters, baskets, etc. Never use a scouring pad on any part of your machine, it can remove the metal plating and damage it.

A trained service technician should service your machine every 6 months.




Espresso Grinder Cleaning

It is important to wash the hopper with hot soapy water to prevent espresso bean oils from building up and becoming rancid. Brush out all excess grounds from inside of doser and wipe inside and outside with a dry paper towel nightly.