Barista School

Naked portafilter (by Abstract Gourmet)

Just a quicky post. Dtm and I headed down to the W.A Barista Academy for a bit of schooling just the other day. We were taken through a 3 hour session with the lovely Jen on coffee techniques, grinding, dosing, tamping, pulling shots, texturing milk, a little latte art, and general machine maintenance. All in all a great course and an excellent way to get a solid grasp of the basics of preparing espresso.

Dtm pouring a latte (by Abstract Gourmet)   Dtm's cup

There was 4 of us all up in the course and with 2 x 2 group La Marzocco Lineas to play with, everyone had ample access to the machines, and a lot of time to spend practicing shots over and over until they were coming out right. Jen covered tamping techniques, using correct pressure, adjusting the grind to suit conditions of beans, and also gave us some tips on how to maintain a consistent routine (something I never seem to do) so that your shots are all made the same way, with the only variable factor being the grind.
The course was excellent, Jen is a great teacher, and the amount of people just was right so that everyone got a lot of time to just pump the shots out.

It makes me really regret ever paying to do a course called Prepare and Serve Espresso Coffee at the Perth School of Hospitality and Tourism. The course was a joke. There was about 20 or so people in the class and one dodgy coffee machine and grinder. We all had about 5 minutes in total to use the machine and we were being taught by someone who had never worked in a cafe in her life, and who’s recommendation on where to find good coffee in Perth was to go to Dome (enough said). The sad thing was, some people in the course were hoping it would teach them the skills they’d need to get work in the industry. If you happen to find this post and you’re look for barista training… DO NOT TAKE THAT COURSE !

Testament to the quality of the courses at the WA Barista Academy is that Dtm was pulling awesome shots in no time at all (although he is a skill home barista), and after little to no instruction at all managed to whip out a fine first example of a rosetta (below). How sweet is that ?

We also managed to find time to put the naked portafilter on (the top photo), and make some shots with that. It’s basically a really good way of locating weaknesses in your dosing and tamping routine, because you can see the coffee coming out of the basket as it extracts, and you can tell if it’s coming out of one side and not the other etc. A great tool for making sure you have got the technique down.

Dtm's rosetta

We’ll also be going back soon for a more in depth latte art course, for all those fancy flowers, hearts, and patterns people seem to love so much. Look forward to seeing some more cool photos, and if you’re in need of some training, get in touch with WABA, they will sort you out.

W.A Barista Academy
Phone: (08) 9328 7675
Fax: (08) 9328 6805

Espresso lessons.

Knowing people is a good thing.

Having recently popped in to see Ben at the Barista Academy I got to borrow his La Marzocco naked portafilter. Unfortunately it didn’t fit my Silvia, but the LM double basket does fit into my Silvia portafilter. So I’ve been pulling a few practice shots with the LM basket instead. It’s a little deeper than the standard Rancilio double basket, and the walls are straighter, and the holes in the bottom go right out to the edge of the basket, as opposed to the Silvia which has a little gap around the edge where there is no extraction.

Baskets side by side

Having said all that you’d think i’d be getting better shots with the LM basket, but so far that hasn’t been the case. I assume it must be because of my dosing/tamping method and the amount of coffee I’m putting in each shot, because each shot I’ve pulled with the LM basket has been soggy on top (a sign of under dosing), and a lot faster than normal.

I think the additional holes in the LM basket, as well as the increased size, all add up to there being less resistance in the puck, which means fast/under extracted shots.

So to test this I kept the grind at exactly the same level and repeated my procedure with my standard Rancilio double basket, and immediately got a much nicer, properly extracted shot.

The lesson in all of this. Better equipment does not add up to better espresso if you don’t know how to use it properly :)
I’ll keep playing with the LM basket and try adjusting my technique to see if I can compensate for the differences i’m seeing.
It could also have a lot to do with the beans I’m using, which are a couple of weeks old now… Not having a roaster is causing me much pain.

Also, here’s a couple of latte art shots I’ve taken in the last couple of days. Still not getting them how I’d like despite getting Ben to show me… More practice required :)

Take away art

Lost it on the dismount