Thursday, May 27, 2010

Day 14: Understanding Your Beans

Hey Kids! So today we have an extra special lesson for those not fluent in the coffee world, it's called NAME THAT DRINK. This is for all of the people whom; haven't been to a coffee shop, go to Starbucks, or live in the mid west. 

Espresso: a condensed shot normally brewed from Arabica beans and if not, it is brewed with Robusta beans ( a more bitter tasting bean with 50% more caffeine than the Arabica bean) . It is not as common for the American community to order straight espresso for reasons such as how are pallet is not adjusted to a bitter taste and how American roasters tend to roast darker.
  •  Single Shot: Is normally a shot extracted to an ounce.
  •  Lungo: The long shot, is extracted to an ounce and a half and generally has a more bitter taste due to over extraction.
  • Double Shot: Two ounce espresso shot using twice as much coffee in the shot.
  • Ristretto:  A shot that is stopped at 3/4 of an ounce to ensure that the flavor is extracted but at the same time the espresso is not over extracted (see "Blonding").
Macchiato: Originating from the word "to be marked" or "to be stained" in Italian, it is an espresso shot served with just a touch of foamed milk on top and a spoon. 

Americano: A shot of espresso served in an 8 oz cup with hot water. It carries the taste of espresso with the feel of coffee.

Caffe Latte: An espresso drink using espresso and steamed milk with a thin layer of foam at the top. Generally one shot in an 8 oz  and two shots in a 12 - 16 oz drink (all varying on how the shop brews their espresso).

Cappuccino: An espresso drink made similarly to the latter but with a thicker layer of foam.

Caffe Mocha: As a simplified explanation of the drink, it is essentially a latte with chocolate or chocolate milk with espresso. 

Other Terms You Should Know:
  • Grind: How fine or course the espresso is ground. Generally espresso is ground very fine, but there are slight chances in the grind of an espresso bean between fine and course that change the flavor. The more fine, the longer it takes the water to pass through the espresso. The more course it is, the easier it is for water to pass through.
  • Dose: The amount of ground espresso that is in the portafilter.
  • Tamp: The compaction of the espresso grounds by a round, weighted tool. The tamp should be even or else it can cause an imbalance in the extraction process.
  • Blonding: The end process of espresso that generally has less flavor and carries the bitterness that is in espresso. If an espresso shot is too bitter or too light, it has been in the blonding stage for too long.
  • Crema: The light brown layer on top the espresso. A good crema is generally thick, has a consistent color, and takes several minutes before settling. 
  • Milk Foam: A style that can be debated for ever. What most people who are serious about espresso will tell you is that there should not be a real separation between foam and milk. The foam should literally be a thick creme of sorts on top the milk. Granted it is difficult to avoid air bubbles in the milk, but truly steamed milk should have no air bubbles at all.
There are so many things I could rant about when it comes to the coffee world, but I am too young in the business and are under way more experienced people...but I leave you with this....

"I will not make cut, dry foam for your cappuccino!"

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