With every new year, we celebrate something; a new start to something, a resolve to do something different, or simply look back and determine that we will or will not repeat that “something”.
Well, writing this, my very first and new blog” in this new year is definitely a start to something that took a while. I struggled because its something that once started, has to have a certain level of commitment, particularly if there is a readership. A sense of responsibility weighs on me to be discipline. Nevertheless, after much encouragement from friends, here it is.
This blog is about Espressos. My passion. What’s there to like about Espressos? Plenty. About 400 million coffees are consume a day in America alone. In Singapore, a lot more coffeeshops are sprouting around, with the likes of TCC, Starbucks, Gloria Jeans, and Branded Coffee Names such as Illy, Lavazza, Segafreddo are making their presence felt with boutique independent coffee shops. Commercially, it is the second largest commodity traded next to oil. So, there must be something about coffee that’s catching on.
My passion is not about how coffee is roasted, or even about how and what coffee beans should be blended and to what temperatures, or for how long. I leave that to well-established Roasting companies who have their own set of challenges to ensure the roast is consistent from the moment it is marketed regardless of weather, harvest or fluctuating prices of different coffee beans around the world.
I am a Barista. My aim is to ensure that my regulars gets their cup of coffee the way they like it every single cup. And potential customers gets introduced to coffee drinking in the most pleasant manner possible. I am trained to ensure that every espresso that comes out from the Espresso machine achieves the required 25-30 seconds of extraction, and that all my cappuccinos and lattes are done according to International Standards set by SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) or SCAE (Specialty Coffee Association of Europe). My fuss is about how espresso coffees should be made to bring out the optimal taste, flavour, aroma and body of the humble coffee bean that went through million dollar process to roast, and tonnes of sweat to grow. In short, do justice to the product. I absolutely cannot stand anyone thrash the coffee around and destroy the potential of that humble bean. That’s my fuss, my quest and my passion.
In the coming months, I hope to capture and perhaps shed some light on the fuss and perhaps eventually lead to a greater understanding of why making espressos is such an art.
Finally, to many who had asked me which coffee is the best or what coffee taste best i.e. is it the traditional Kopi-O, or the Latte or Cappuccino or Mocha? My answer is simple; it is the coffee which you like best. You decide. The best coffee is the one which you enjoy most. It does not matter what name you call it. For example, there are those who claim that Jamaican Blue Mountain beans are the best, or that some indonesian Kopi-Luwak (a bean that comes out from the waste of a rodent-like animal) are the most expensive and therefore the best. My experience with coffee drinkers is that they don’t care. It is ultimately what you experience in your mouth and find most pleasant which makes that cup of coffee the best. A short test is if you can drink that coffee every day, every morning or several times a day and not get sick of it, then that’s the best coffee. Anyone or anything else that tries to skew you towards one blend or brand are just marketing ploys. You are an individual and your taste experience is unique. The old adage remains true: One man’s food is another man’s poison.
The Barista’s profession is therefore, first, to understand how you like your brew, and then with his or her finely honed skills, prepare that important brew consistently, to meet your expectations within the limits of the coffee blend and machine that the coffeeshop is using. That’s it.