It’s really interesting watching others learn how to do things. Specifically, how to make coffee. I am pretty anal about following instructions. I always use a recipe when baking, even if it’s something I have made a dozen times before. And I can’t sew without a pattern.
At this morning’s barista course, we were told to wipe the steam wand after you’ve heated the milk. I started twitching when others weren’t doing this and the milk was starting to burn on the wand. I became Mum – grabbing a cloth and wiping with loud sighs. You know, there’s a reason why things need to be done a certain way. Flush the machine or the coffee will taste burnt. Clean the wand or the milk will taste burnt. IS IT SO HARD?
Of course the coffee I made was perfect. It didn’t taste that great, but it looked impressive! I did manage a half-decent mocha.
Someone told me that when you do a barista course, you use dishwashing liquid in the jug to practise frothing. That is incorrect, young man. We used real milk, and real coffee. It broke my heart pouring so much milk down the drain, especially with Queen Street’s homeless only one street away.
– Milk in jug.
– Froth milk.
– Pour milk down drain (or pour milk in coffee then pour coffee down drain.)
You know, when I left South Africa, if you ordered coffee you got it poured from a pot sitting on a hot plate. The choice you had was, do you want the milk heated? We thought we were very fancy if we asked for cream on top. We called this a cappuccino. So mistaken.
Today I learned that there are four types of black coffee, apart from all the varieties with milk. And apart from all the different types of milk. A basic espresso is a short black. Then there is a long black, ristretto and americano. And would you like a small jug of hot water on the side? If you want slightly fancier black coffee you can have macchiato (topped with froth) or vienna (topped with cream). It would be so much easier if black coffee was just coffee without milk.
If I somehow remember how much water, how much froth, what type of cup, when to pour slowly and when to speed up, I might be able to work as a barista one day. It had just better not be in a busy cafe!