Being a barista or a barman is by no means simple. In addition to the high work pace, those who want to open a franchise café or a coffee shop inevitably have to undergo constant professional training, which is always necessary and allows professionals to always offer their customers quality products, or the most popular ones.
It is also important for baristas to know all the basics as well as the latest trends in the world of mixing and coffee making, since they need to not only make cocktails and drinks but also the real protagonist of Italian bars, i.e. espresso coffee. This means that they need to master all the techniques and tricks for all the equipment they work with on a daily basis, so that they can extract coffee without any hesitation.
In fact, experienced baristas know that a great espresso is a matter of using not only quality coffee beans but also high-quality equipment and techniques that are improved and perfected over the years.
What is the aim of all this practice? Being able to tell at a glance whether a coffee is over-extracted or under-extracted, how much strength is needed to press coffee, or what is the best milk jug to use when delighting customers with the complex Iatte art technique, i.e. the art of creating beautiful patterns on the creamy surface of a cappuccino.
For those who are about to become baristas, or for those who want to observe an experienced colleague at work, Attibassi has created a series of videos, perfect to be added to the experience offered by the Attibassi Espresso School. These videos illustrate some of the basic techniques to make a great espresso and a delicious cappuccino, as well as methods to maintain equipment functional and clean, a crucial aspect that is underestimated by those who have only just entered this world.
So, what does it take to open a café? Certainly much more than three short videos, which, however, can give you a general idea of the complexity and of the rituals involved in a daily activity such as drinking an espresso at the bar of your favourite coffee shop.
How to make a good espresso?
The first of the 3 videos of the baristas training video is dedicated to making the perfect extraction, with some basic recommendations on how to make a good cappuccino, which will then be further explored and explained in the second video of the series.
An experienced professional, Fabio Doni – who is in charge of training Attibassi’s baristas – illustrates the golden rules that you will need to memorise to make the perfect espresso. Grinder, press, brewing unit and, of course, coffee powder. There are many elements involved in extracting a good espresso, and this gives you an idea of how much professionalism it takes to make an excellent coffee. Anyone can make an espresso. But not many know how to make a real espresso.
It begins with grinding. When the measuring container is empty, you will need to pulverise 7.5g of coffee, which is a little more than the standard amount required for extraction, and then adjust the dose by operating the instrument lever twice, in order to adjust the amount. Of course, the excess ground coffee must not be thrown away, but placed in the measuring container.
To get the right amount of coffee, make sure to remember to adjust the dose through the dedicated screw of the grinder/dispenser.
The correct amount of powder must then be dispensed in the portafilter, making sure to empty it beforehand, cleaning it from the coffee grounds of the previous extraction, and then you will need to check the grinding. An experienced barista will be able to tell immediately whether the coffee grains are too fine or too coarse, whereas beginners will need a test.
A quality espresso must be true to certain characteristics in terms of shape and flavour that we cannot compromise on, but if the ground coffee has an incorrect particle size, we could have:
● An over-extracted coffee, with a burnt taste, if the grinding is too fine and extraction too slow.
● Under-extracted coffee, with no aroma at all, if the powder appears to be too coarse compared to the ground coffee required for making espresso.
In both cases, simply operate the ring nut of the grinder/dispenser in order to obtain a thicker or finer powder, according to your needs.
After checking the correct particle size of the powder, it is important to level and press the coffee, making sure to apply a force of about 16kg.
Everything is now ready for extraction. After running a little water through the brewing unit, in order to clean it from any impurities that may be present as a result of previous extractions, insert the portafilter and, finally, make an espresso coffee.
The extraction must last between 20 and 30 seconds, and the amount of water dispensed must be between 20 and 30 millilitres. These parameters allow you to understand whether everything has been done correctly or if there are any steps that create problems, such as the above-mentioned coffee grinding, which must be adjusted in order to obtain a high-quality result.
However, the final check has yet to come, and it cannot be carried out using instruments and parameters, but only with the trained eye of an experienced barista.
The colour, height and surface cream of an espresso are the elements that, more than anything else, reveal whether you did a good job or not, and present the product perfectly in a cup, which will be served to the customer who will taste it.
As a link between the first and second video, here are some general recommendations on how to make a cappuccino, which will be further discussed in the second video of the series.
In fact, to open a café you not only need to be able to make an excellent espresso but it is also important that you know how to make breakfast or a snack enjoyable for your customers with a delicious cappuccino decorated with latte art.
Milk frothing and decorations: the latte art
We will now move on to one of the most classic variations of coffee: cappuccino.
Speaking of this beverage, we cannot but talk about milk. Of course, it is essential to use high-quality, fresh milk, preferably whole milk.
In fact, the higher percentage of fat and protein in whole milk gives the cappuccino a more pleasant and rich flavour, and it is the basis for creating a dense and truly delicious milk froth.
The storage temperature of milk, which must be between 0 and 4°C, also plays an important role.
Depending on how many cappuccinos you will need to make, the milk jug size will also vary, although you must bear in mind that it is always best to use equipment with the following characteristics:
● Material: 18/10 steel
● Slightly conical shape
● Spout to create patterns on the creamy surface of the cappuccino.
Once you have half-filled it with milk, switch to the steamer, which blows steam into the milk to create the characteristic milk froth. After dispensing some steam to clean out the spout of the instrument, you must stop dispensing and then you will need to insert the steam wand just below the milk level.
Checking the temperature is essential. This is the delicate phase in which a firm, creamy foam is obtained. To make sure that the compound does not become too hot, it is good practice to wrap the milk jug with your hand, so as to have more control over the heat that is being reached, or even better still you can choose to use a thermometer. In the latter case, it will be sufficient not to exceed 65 degrees.
This must be done very quickly, and it is important to check the result. In fact, to know whether you have obtained a good froth, simply check how much froth was obtained from the milk used. If the compound has grown by about 20%, the froth was properly made.
Once this is done, you can finally decorate the cappuccinos as you please. The first patterns you will learn will then be useful to make all subsequent images and subjects, so it is essential to know how to achieve them at best:
● The apple
● The heart
● The leaf
As simple as they may be, these shapes are really cute and will certainly impress customers accustomed to “normal” cappuccino. To play even more with colours, you can also add a sprinkling of cocoa powder directly on top of the coffee cup before pouring the milk.
It is important to make the patterns right after whipping the cream. The reason for this is that the longer the cream rests, the more it tends to make the steam evaporate and disassemble, becoming more liquid with the wrong texture.
When creating the patterns, remember to shake the milk jug slightly, so as to stir the cream and keep it whipped for longer.
Offering latte art in one’s establishment is not an easy task, also due to the large number of cappuccinos that need to be made at certain times of the day. However, by paying attention to such details, you will pleasantly surprise your customers, and coffee shop owners and baristas will have a satisfactory return, as well as, why not, a bit of free advertising.
It only takes a second for a customer to share a picture of a masterpiece in a cup on the Internet, so why waste this opportunity?
Keeping the coffee machine in good operating condition is a good habit for anyone who has to manage a coffee shop. In fact, the brewing unit, grinder/dispenser and filters are under constant stress, and it is therefore good practice to take care of your equipment, so that it can always guarantee top level extraction.
As far as the brewing unit is concerned, make sure to always keep it clean using a soft bristle brush, also taking care to clean the o-ring and showers while water is dispensed. This operation must always be carried out at the end of the day in order to prepare the tools for the following day.
Every 500 or 600 coffee shots drawn, it is important to clean the brewing unit with a special powder detergent, taking care to then flush out the detergent from the system, thoroughly rinsing the shower and portafilter.
With the same detergent, you can also clean the portafilter basket and the portafilter. All you need to do is create a solution with powder detergent and water at a high temperature, and leave the mechanical parts in to soak for about 10 minutes. With a damp kitchen paper towel, instead, you can clean the feed box of the grinder and the measuring container, which must then be dried with a dry kitchen paper towel. In fact, exposing coffee to water or moisture greatly increases the potential volatility of its aroma.
Each Attibassi Espresso Italiano blend is the result of an exclusive recipe, achieved after years of experimenting to obtain the perfect product. However, all this research is thwarted if the person in charge of dispensing coffee is not properly trained. Attibassi has always aimed to achieve this high standard of excellence, which is why it offers all baristas this training video, so that all those who want to open a franchise coffee shop can start their business on the right track.