The art of preparing the perfect coffee is not an easy one to conquer. There are so many choices flat white, black, cappuccino, macchiato, mocha, latte, double shots, and so on.
We asked Livinia Nixon to attend the Lavazza Training Centre in Melbourne's Carlton and she was taken under the wing of Ann Rady, one of their coffee coaches.
Lavazza began training baristas in Turin in the 1970s, but it was 20 years before they came to Australia.
The course teaches proper grinding, recognising coffee contaminants, storage, brewing and dispels some common coffee myths. It is designed for people who wish to become professional baristas as well as those wanting to produce the perfect cup of coffee at home.
The grind is a very important part of getting the perfect coffee. The finer the grind, the more flavour is extracted. Good flavours are extracted early in the brewing process and letting the grounds have contact with too much water will lead to over-extraction and an unpleasant taste. The equipment you use determines how much water-grounds contact there is.
Espresso machines are designed to force small amounts of water through very tightly packed, finely ground coffee, resulting in a concentrate of the best flavours. An even grind is critical.
Drip coffee makers need a medium grind which allows water to pass through quickly, avoiding over-extraction. Unbleached paper filters or gold wire mesh filters should be used and kept clean between brews.
Experts put the French Press method at the bottom of the scale. The coffee and water should steep for up to four minutes, and a very coarse grind should be used.
Water can introduce chlorine, minerals, salts, heavy metals and even traces of diesel. Charcoal filters should be used to filter the water.
Beware of 'city roast' and flavoured coffees. They are often made of leftover grounds and artificially flavoured. To have a flavoured coffee, it's best to purchase a bottle of flavour oil and add it to the cup after pouring.
One level tablespoon of coffee per cup is the standard measure and works well regardless of your coffeemaker. It is not recommended to make more than ten cups at a time.
Green coffee is almost impervious to aging and can be stored for years, but once roasted, the flavour begins to deteriorate. It is recommended you use a mill-type grinder for just enough for the pot you are about to make. The experts say to never use a supermarket community grinder. You are getting the residue of previous grinds, that will have a detrimental taste in the end.
There are many widely spread myths about making coffee. A good barista will tell you to dismiss the following:
Rinse paper filters in hot water to keep the papery taste from the coffee. (Buy unbleached filters).
Add a few crystals of salt to the grounds to neutralize acidity.
Always keep beans in the freezer to preserve freshness. (This destroys the oils – store in a dark, airtight container).