February Wholesale Newsletter
Happy February! We hope your year is off to a great start. Here is our second installment of Training and Education tips. We hope they can help you in your establishment.
You’ll hear this mantra from us from time to time – consistency is only good and beneficial if the quality that the consistency provides is also good. When your team is consistently using sound fundamentals on the bar, it will earn your business a great reputation for quality.
Coffee Tip: The Mocha: the staple of any espresso bar.
The mocha’s roots can be traced to a drink called the 'bavaresia' or 'Caffe Bicerin' from the city of Turin, Italy during the 18th century. Turin was one of the major players in the early European chocolate craze.
There is also a dubious yet romantic origin story that suggests coffee traders would add cocoa powder to pass lower quality coffee as more desirable coffee that came out of Yemen from the port city of Mocha.
Our standard preparation of a mocha is to add chocolate to a cup, stir in espresso, and finish with steamed milk & thin, silky latte foam. Whipped cream can be added if desired.
A popular variation is to steam chocolate sauce with the milk, then free-pour it into an espresso. The benefit is the milk carries the chocolate, offering a more pronounced contrast between the coffee and the cocoa.
Similarly, some cafes that sell an incredibly high number of mochas will pre-batch gallons of chocolate milk for mochas and hot chocolates. These variations can also be applied to a white chocolate mocha.
If you are curious to try, there are no concerns about damaging the steam assembly with the addition of chocolate, assuming everyone is following the best practice of immediately wiping and purging the wand after each use.
For added visual contrast, sprinkle a dash of cocoa powder onto the espresso before pouring steamed milk.
No matter how you choose to make your mochas, the most important part is that all baristas are constructing them in the same fashion.
There are a lot of myths and misinformation involving tamping. But tamping is actually a very simple mechanical task. Here are the main things that matter:
- TAMPING LEVEL: a simple piston-like motion, keeping the base level to the basket
- ADEQUATE PRESSURE: full compression of the grounds (~30lbs is good)*
- CONSISTENCY: tamping the same way every time
- ERGONOMICS: proper grip and posture to prevent repetitive stress injuries**
*pressing extra hard may lead to injuries, unlevel tamps, and doesn’t make better espresso
**don’t end up needing weeks of physical therapy and a wrist brace!
Any other movements (knocking portafilter with tamper, spinning the tamper while pressing, etc.) are unnecessary and potentially detrimental to your espresso quality. Most of the extraneous stuff baristas do while tamping is due to baristas obsessing over loose grounds around the wall of the basket after tamping, which is mostly harmless. Instead of obsessing about that, just make sure your tamper is the right size. 58-58.4mm tampers are the most common sizes out there, but some machines may require smaller sizes, i.e. 54 – 57mm.
If you think your tamper is too small for your machine but aren’t sure what size you need, contact us and we’ll help you sort it out! If you think tamping consistency is a problem in your shop, sign up for one of our trainings and get a refresher. If you are tired of tamping at all, look for our newsletter next month where we introduce our favorite new product, the Puqpress... an automatic tamper.
Something that can slowly add up in cost is grind waste. Before you tamp you need to grind and dose your coffee in your portafilter. If you use an automatic doser on your grinder there is really no reason to have any grind waste outside of residual dusting if you’ve set your dose to the appropriate amount(s) for your shots. When using a manual grinder, we strive to stay under 2.5 grams of coffee waste per dose. Our experienced baristas have less than 1 gram. In our internal barista certification process, having more than 2.5 grams of waste will knock significant points off your technical score in our exams. The point we are trying to make with our own employees is if you continue developing consistently solid skills that promote quality with an awareness of the cost of things, then you will always be moving forward! Get this dosing method down and then rinse and repeat so to speak.
We hope that revisiting some fundamental skills and a popular drink helps to keep the focus going back to consistent quality. When we do this, we notice that things just keep getting better and better. Our customers do, too.