The grind, the tamp, the pour. The beans, the farm, the supply chain.
François Hecquet from Flight Coffee gave us tips on getting the best coffee from our beans, grinder and new Rocket. Then Eric showed us his latte art tricks.
Coffee notes from the pro
Making the perfect coffee, consistently, depends on getting some general settings correct. François explained the following parameters (in order of importance):
Dose (coffee in the basket)
Yield (amount of coffee that comes out)
Time (extraction duration)
Flight follow this recipe for dose, yield and time: 18g coffee in basket 30g extraction 27–31 seconds
Measuring extraction based on volume has too much variation because of the crema, so Flight Coffee measure extraction on weight.
When making changes, adjust one variable at a time. For example keep the dose and extraction the same, measure the duration and change the grind.
Notes on grind
When adjusting the grinder set the duration last as it will change each time.
If you’re adjusting the burr, get the grinder spinning first. This reduces the likelihood of it seizing.
Before adjusting it again, run a couple of shots.
Weigh every dose.
Save on wastage by setting the grinder slightly under your target weight (say 17g).
The less interaction you have with the coffee the better. Tamp once. The main objective is that it’s flat.
Every time you touch the coffee after the tamp, there’s more chance you’ll create a crack in the puck. The more you play with it the more risk.
Notes on extraction
Purge the group head before use.
Stop extraction at 28g.
There are always a couple of grams in the puck that will come out after you pull the lever.
Our first shot was 25 seconds for 31g so we made the grind finer.
Try some sour coffee (ristretto) using a 20 second extraction.
Notes on milk
The more fat content in the milk, the better.
Sit the milk about 7mm under the lip of the jug spout.
Add air to the milk at the start and add texture at the end.
Positions the wand slightly to the side. You will get a few ssh sounds at the start, then none whatsoever after that. The deeper sound means you have overdone it.
Tap a few times to break bubbles on the surface and swirl to keep from separating.
To make a glossy flat white, drop a bit of milk out before pouring anything into the cup.
Drop a bit of milk into the shot and swirl. Start the pour about two inches above the cup, in the first quarter of the cup, so the pattern is pushed out across the surface.
Bubbles emerging afterwards is totally normal (gas releasing from the coffee).
To make two equal flat whites, pour the top foam into a new jug and then pour first flat white. Add some foam back, then pour second flat white.
Eric’s latte art tips
Eric from Flight Coffee also paid a visit to help us with getting our milky coffees looking good. His tips:
start with cold milk (or if you’re reusing, then no less than half cold milk)
pour milk into the jug to just below the start of the spout (half fill the jug)
open the steam valve and put the wand below the surface of the milk
Eric recommends getting a good whirlpool going — he says that matters most
drop some milk to be left with silky milk
tilt the cup. Pour under the surface to get milk mixing into the coffee beneath the top layer
rise up to design the pattern on the top, moving the jug to let the preferred white shapes emerge
Eric says that once you find your technique you won’t lose it…
Sour coffee will be due to a short extraction. Ristretto. Italians like it this way.
Bitter coffee will be due to over extraction.
The coffee in grinder will be stale so bin the first shot of the day.
Use a dry cloth to clean the basket. A dry basket is important or coffee will clump together.
Do not twist while tamping (this can be habitual but doesn’t add value).
Do not knock portafilter with the tamp. There’s a high risk of cracking the coffee, it creates room down the side of the puck and it also damages the portafilter.
Flight did a blind test with a wet puck and couldn’t taste the difference in the espresso. However, with courser grinds used in a filter (eg. Aeropress, v60) it’s important to wet the filter and coffee. Pre-wet, wait for the gasses to come out, then pour.
In our office we use around 3kg of coffee each week. We should clean our machine at least once a week, and our grinder once every 6 months.
To clean the grinder we should count the turns out (easier to put back). Remove any non-attached parts. Vacuum out grounds.
Leave portafilter in machine, it preserves the head seal in the machine.
A big thank you to François Hecquet from Flight Coffee for coming and sharing his tips on coffee with our team. Flight Coffee aim to improve price stability at the farm level, and distribute value more equitably along the value chain.
He explained the Flight Coffee philosophy and told us about the coffee industry and their farm in Quindío, Colombia. The farm provides the region’s farmers with greater control over their coffee quality, and over their income through a fixed price payment system. The goal is to have a better understanding and situation for people from both ends of the value chain. This is a model Flight Coffee are replicating in other countries too — they operate in Colombia, Rwanda, Burundi, and Myanmar, with two further pilot programs underway in other countries where a small change will yield a large impact.
We’re delighted to support Flight Coffee and their goals.