As a barista, one of the most important things you can do is learn how to taste coffee. It’s like a barista superpower. Machines can already dose tamp steam beautiful milk. I mean it’s not going to be long before they can pour a perfect Rosetta, but can they actually taste coffee? That’s where you come in!
Today, we’re going to focus on the three variables and how you as a barista, can manipulate them to make beautiful, tasting, espresso Hi Paul here from the coffee, science and education center. Previously, we’ve spoken about how to use espresso recipes on a day to day basis to make it super consistent, espresso. Now, if you’re not familiar with the weighing in and out of coffee, I suggest you go back to that video before you dig into this one Once you’ve got the basics down, you’ll start to realize that maybe you haven’t got, it quite mastered.
This is what separates a great barista from someone who just pumps out shots all day, long The ability to pop into a café and get the best possible flavor out of the bean that you’re using, Of course, learning how to taste specific things in coffee. Like the difference between Brown, Sugar and Blood Orange takes time and practice, and we’re not going to go into that detail today. What I suggest is going along to maybe some public cuppings or go into one of the professionally run courses.
What we are going to look at today is influencing four main components of coffee, sweetness, acidity bitterness and body. At this point, it’s probably worth a quick explanation on what each of these terms mean. Sweetness is usually pretty straightforward, but gets a little bit confusing in coffee. It’S not like it’s going to be the sweetness of honey or ice cream, but sweetness can present like a sugar like a Panela or a Brown sugar. Ultimately we’re trying to squeeze some sort of sweetness to be in balance with the other things in the cup.
Sweet, essentially is good Acidity can come across a little bit confusing. Also You’ll, hear people say things like fruity-like acidity or bright winy-like acidity. Essentially, what we’re trying to do is find something that’s clean and identifiable, something that’s high quality, so the acidity might be like lemon or Apple-like acidity, something that you really enjoy Now bitterness can present itself in different ways with a darker roasted coffee. It might be that the coffee is ashy and smoky and a little bit dry.
Whilst in other coffees, it might come down to the different types of coffee in that blend, a Geisha can present bitterness in this floral aromatic. Whilst a Robusta might be a little bit, hoppy Now body is something that is a little bit harder, sometimes to explain, but think about the difference between skim, milk and full cream milk Skim milk is a little bit thin whilst being round and smooth, but full cream Is thick and creamy
So when we’re talking about body in coffee, we’re talking about the differences between how it feels on your palette, Are you with me? I feel like you’re with me, So, let’s get down to business. There are a lot of things that are going to affect the overall balance of an espresso, but we’re going to focus on three main things today. The first is time: I’m talking extraction time, how long an espresso pours.
Now, if your shot is running at 25 seconds – and you feel like it’s a bit too acidic – you can make the grind finer and that’s going to bring out more sweetness. Likewise, if your shot is running at 25 seconds – and you feel like it’s a little bit over extracted, you can make it a little bit coarser and that’s going to bring out more fruity acidity Now. I know what you’re thinking, Let’s just call it grind change and call it at that, but unfortunately there are things that are going to happen to your espresso shot during that time as well.
When you go finer, you do extract more. This can affect the body, It can become dryer and astringent, so we can’t always use going finer and finer to get heaps more sweetness out of your cup. Likewise, we can’t just keep going coarser to bring out more acidity At a certain point in time. Your coffee is going to be overly under extracted and just tastes, watery and weak, And this is when we need to look at some of the other extraction variables.
Now the second variable we’re talking about is dose, and that is the amount of coffee that goes in the group handle. Sometimes we call it the ‘in’ Now if you’ve got a 20 gram dose – and you add one more gram, what’s going to happen – is going to add more sweetness and you’re going to add more body. But what can happen is the acidity quality drops down and you end up with something: that’s sharp and sour now from 20 and you go down to 19. What happens, is you develop your coffee a little bit more, and so what you can end up with is a higher quality, better fruity acidity, but this can come at the cost of your body.
You might end up with something that is a little bit too thin Now think about it, like this at 20 grams you’re, putting one more gram in so you’re, essentially extracting each particle in that basket a little bit less and when you take a gram out down To 19 you’ve got more chance to extract that coffee a little bit more
And this is why it affects the acidity the balance and the body in that coffee. Now the third and final factor is the amount of water or the amount we extract ‘out’.
Now, with a 40 gram shot – and you add an extra two grams to that extraction, what’s going to happen – is you’re going to extract the flavor a little bit more, and this can result in more sweetness in aromatics, but can also dry out your espresso From 40 Grams, we go down to 38, you can highlight the body and the fruity acidity. Now remember, if you add more extraction, it develops a coffee a little bit more.
And if you take the extraction away or a little bit less ‘out’, it develops the coffee a little bit less. Now. What do we do with all of this information? My advice is to start with one variable at a time And the place I start normally is time where you adjust the grinder. So if your coffee isn’t tasting sweet enough, of course, go a little bit finer bring a little bit more sweetness out, and if your coffee is tasting a little bit bitter or dry, maybe go a little bit coarser and bring a little bit more acidity out.
But remember we can’t just focus on that one all the time. So sometimes I will work with the amount of coffee in and out as well. If your coffee is tasting, really sharp and acidic and lemony, then take a little bit of coffee out of your basket and that will bring out more development in that coffee, more sweetness, more aromas and it’ll taste super good Or, if your coffee’s, too dry and over Extracted add a little bit more coffee and that’s going to bring out more juiciness and more acidity. Ultimately, this comes down to time and practice and locking all of those things into your mind.
And eventually, you get a rhythm where you’ll just taste the coffee and you’ll know what you need to do on the fly and you’ll get to a point where you may even adjust two variables at a time to make that espresso balance right out. It takes time and practice, Don’t put so much pressure on yourself, the very first time you’re trying this Now. Of course, there are going to be things out of your control.
Sometimes it’s a stale bag of coffee or the bags being left open for too long or maybe it’s a bag of coffee. That’s been roasted specifically for milk-based and you’re trying it black and it just doesn’t taste good and that’s. Okay.
That’s not necessarily the coffee being bad, that’s just the coffee being more suited to one way of drinking the coffee than the other. Some things are just not in your control, So that’s it Tell me in the comments section below what some of the factors that you use to dial in coffee, flavor and while you’re at it don’t forget to hit subscribe.