I spent a very fun day behind the counter at Epic Espresso here in Perth, learning the ins and outs of the art of barista-ing. Epic Espresso has been voted Best Coffee in Perth on more than a few occasions, and our instructors are both celebrated "latte art" award winners, so I was in the best of hands. They're so serious about coffee that each shot of espresso is watched intently as it's extracted, and is stopped at the precise moment that the coffee texture and colour changes. And they do refer to them as extractions -- it's not just a drink, it's not just a coffee. It's an experience.
I learned about choosing the best beans, storing them, and making the most velvety, luxurious espresso from them. Then I learned how to steam really, really good milk to make decadent espresso drinks like lattes, flat whites, and cappuccinos. This also means that I finally learned the differences between all of these drinks. (It wasn't as complicated as I originally thought.)
It was pretty daunting at first, what with all the talk about the perfect grind, the perfect dosage and tamp of the grounds, and the perfect stream. It only got worse when we moved onto the milk preparation, discussing and practicing our milk stretching and milk rolling with the steam wand, and finally moving into pouring absolutely gorgeous drinks, so pretty that it would be a shame to drink them.
(images from Epic Espresso)
Did I mention that I got to use an espresso machine more expensive than an economy car? Did I mention that we used at least 40 litres of single-origin, semi-organic local milk in learning to pour these delectable treats?
A great day -- I'll never look at coffee the same way, and the secret world of the sexy barista just became a little less mysterious.