Thanks to my friend Nick who was able to organise this lunch followed by personal barista training at the Red Robyn Cafe, owned by his awesome friend Robyn in Camberwell!
As the title suggests, I was lucky enough to learn the keys points in making espresso coffee.
After a sumptuous lunch (I had the lamb leg) – the best gluten-free lunch I’ve ever had (okay, the only gluten free lunch I’ve ever had, but this lunch was pretty damn good – I had seconds), it was time to get cracking with the coffee.
Probably the ultimate lesson from today is that it’s all in the grind. Well, not everything is in the grind, but it all starts with the grind (assuming of course that you have decent beans to start off with). If the grind isn’t correct, the coffee is ruined. As the size of the grind is dependent on ambient temperature and humidity (which can change during the day), this is something that needs to be monitored and checked pretty much whenever you want to extract coffee from the beans!
So how do you tell if the grind is right? Well, in a very basic way, you have to do some trial and error. Assuming you’ve got the right quantity of coffee (Australian cafe’s tend to always do a double strength shot as standard, thought over in the UK, single strength seems to be the norm) and you have tamped at the right pressure, the time it takes to extract a single shot of coffee from the beans should be around 23 seconds for the particular beans we were using.
I kid you not, 20 seconds, or 25 seconds.. the change in flavour of the shot was noticeable. Tamp too hard or too soft, the change in flavour of the shot was noticeable. Too much or too little coffee?? You get the drift.
Assuming your dosing is correct and your tamp is calibrated, extracting too fast or too slow, means you have to adjust the grind accordingly.
Frothing, warming and pouring the milk was the next half of the lesson. Using the steam wand and with your ear, you can hear if the milk is heated to the right temp. Again, this was a matter of practice makes perfect and repetition builds muscle memory.
All in all, it was a great afternoon in Camberwell. After a few pours, I think I was getting the hang of it! Though we spent most of the time pouring latte’s, most of what we learnt, I assume can be passed onto making other beverages.
Many thanks once again to Robyn, who’s teaching was absolutely fantastic. If you’re ever in Camberwell, hell… if you’re even in Melbourne, head on over to Camberwell (I do believe it’s on the Lilydale line) for a great breakfast, lunch or dinner!