Seeking the perfect pour
On a quest: Cam and Marcus
As with many Wellingtonians we take our coffee very seriously — it seems in the tech industry even more so. Perhaps because there are analogies with making coffee and creating software. Both processes involving engineering, art and aesthetics. Hmmm — maybe I am getting a little too philosophical and all I really need is just that next caffeine shot to help solve why that spec is failing.
At Abletech, we also take training seriously - and not just in the tech space. Several of our staff have been lucky enough to attend advanced barista training from a client of ours 😀. The following has been recorded from these sessions and contains notes taken by Cameron Fowler and myself in our quest to reach the zen like state of being able to consistently pour a perfect flat white.
We use a Mazzer grinder — I also have one of these at home and they are great so these notes are for myself and others with the same grinder. If you are setting up — start by turning the blades down (slowly with the grinder on) until you hear them just hitting the metal and then wind back a quarter turn. Getting it fine-tuned after that is more trial and error to get 30 seconds of extraction. Each notch-turn results in roughly five-seconds extraction time. Moving towards smaller numbers yields a finer grind.
It is important to tamp directly down — with an even spread of grind so that the tamp is even across the puck which helps prevent channelling.
The amount of pressure applied should be about 6 kg — but consistency between shots is most important here — so that your grind, tamp-level and pressure give a consistent extraction time.
A perfect pour is glorious to watch. You should see drips forming and coming out after around five seconds. In 10 seconds you should start to see a flow. After about 30 seconds you should have about 30 ml of espresso. At this point a slight colour change will begin to occur as you have extracted the full body and solids of the coffee.
You basically are after a 3:2 to 2:1 ratio of espresso of grounds to extracted espresso — so if you start with 18 grams of coffee — your shot will be 30 mls.
The experts at Mojo recommend the house blend should be a larger shot size of 20g beans — which will extract to 36g.
Drips at beginning give the Sweetness — flow towards the end adds the bitterness. You need both for rounded full bodied flavour.
For full blends, like the Mojo house blend, you may want a few more grams of coffee (20g) to slow the extraction and extract all the flavours.
Temperature wise — you are looking to get the milk to 62 degrees C — You want to get a whirlpool (swirly thing going) in the milk jug. At 62 degrees you should only be able to touch the side of the jug for a few seconds — so rest your hand on the side as the milk heats up until it is the desired temperature.
The larger milk jugs actually make it easier to get a good milk made — but the wastage is a tradeoff to perfecting a good milk in a small milk jug. This makes a good reason to make your work colleague or client a coffee at the same time.
Before you start — clear the wand of water by turning the steam on high for a brief few seconds.
When stretching don’t let the wand separate from the milk — keep it below the milk level and rise it up as the milk rises.
Don’t be afraid of opening the steam on quickly — with tip 2 cm under the surface of the milk. Angle the tip of the wand so that the milk will be forced in a circular motion around the jug. If noise gets loud as the milk rises, then you need to lift the wand up higher in the jug. The sound should be a nice static sound.
Stretch milk more for cappuccino — less for a Flat White. If you imagine the jug as a cup, then the milk at the end of the stretch should resemble the type of drink you are making, in regards to the proportion that is foam.
Before pouring — you can give the coffee shot a quick swirl which helps mix the espresso and get a consistent colour.
Pour 1/3 of cup up slowly with a circular pour so the crema is mixed with milk.
The final pour is very aggressive, starting quick and finishing slow with the jug close to the cup and milk surface to release the foam.
Get the heart shape mastered before moving to more complex patterns: by keeping the hand still in pour, aim to pour 2/3 back from the edge of the cup at the correct speed. Remember start quick, finish slow.
A poor shot will cause bubbles on the top of the milk where the cream is.
Practice heaps and enjoy the process as well as the result