Monday, September 17, 2012

Master Your Machine @ Bettr Barista Coffee Academy

I never knew I had such influence on HY especially on her taste buds. She was never really bothered about her cafe latte or her cappuccinos until I introduced her to the specialty coffee scene that's been thriving in Singapore. Thanks to me she has become a coffee snob, a term some friend pin on me. I don't like the term though. I rather believe that we've found a sweet spot for our coffee. Nowadays, there's lesser of cafe lattes or cappuccinos and more of 5 oz or double 7 oz white coffee for us thanks for the good folks at Nylon Coffee Roasters. Since we've caught on coffee, HY helped me sign up for a "Master Your Machine Technical Workshop", hosted by Bettr Barista Coffee Academy and presented by Astoria. Even though this workshop was more appropriate for people in the coffee trade, it was an eye opener that gave us a better understanding of the finer details on how folks behind the machine get us our good coffee. The make up of the group varies, comprising of baristas, would-be baristas, folks who dream of owning their own cafes, hobbyists and us, "Kopi Gians". End of the day, it was a fun and enriching workshop that indulged the geek in me.
The workshop kicked off with an introduction of Astoria's range of coffee machine. Ranging from the traditional manual, the electronic, and even something small enough for home but still packed with the capabilities to churn out good traditional Italian espresso. The manual machine has larger, heavier groups, packed with more metal so that the heat will not be lost and affecting the optimal temperature in the portafilter. The electronics version have smaller groups as the sensors allow temperature feedback to and from the control board that send signals to heat up the groups when it is lower than the required temperature. There's also the single group machine that has its own reservoir so that plumbing is not required and this is more suited for smaller cafe set-up or a home set-up. Whichever, the machine, the emphasis is in the diligence of maintaining the machine. No matter how good the machine, poor maintenance would result in a poor cup of espresso and worst, high maintenance cost. Tips : water needs to be filtered so that there will be less chances of deposits in the components in the machines ....

Filtration of water is important to keeping your machine healthy resulting in good coffee pulled from the machine.

I'm a good student  although I don't even own an espresso machine ....

As the workshop involves a lot of pouring through the mechanical functionality and schematics of the espresso machines, there's still no reason to fall asleep as there's plenty of coffee.  

Here's Paolo, the guru flown in from Astoria, one of the Italian manufacturer of professional espresso machines, who taught us that Maintenance is the key! Why you should clean your portafilter, replace the basket and the clean the portafilter thoroughly with detergent for espresso machines ... Adjusting the grinder to get the optimal grind size ... and consistent but not necessary very hard tamping ... observing of "leopard skin" creama on the espresso ... pros and cons of the double and the single portafilter.

Paolo and the folks from Bettr Barista got the lid off the machines to give us an insight into the bolts and nuts of the espresso machines. This let us understand why you pay more for the higher end models. You have the modular, multiple boilers that can be separately shut down for repairs leaving the healthy groups still functioning. We are demonstrated how the pressure of the professional machine is quickly recovered and this is essential for pulling multiple shots in continuous successions. The USB port is a real neat addition to the more advanced model to upload or download cupping profile data to and from multiple espresso machines.

Towards the end of the workshop, we were encouraged to try the machines. This was when I pulled my first espresso shot following the directions and tips from the baristas. 

For more coffee related classes and courses, do check out Bettr Barista Coffee Academy Website.

8 Burn Road
Trivex #13-04
Singapore 369977
Tel : +65 65090113

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