Barista Tips

A coffee bean is the seed of a cherry. These cherries grow on coffee trees. There are many different types of coffee trees such as Coffea Arabica and Coffea Robusta. The coffee tree grows between the tropic of Cancer and the tropic of Capricorn in countries such as Brasil, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Ethiopia, Kenya, India, Vietnam, Indonesia and many more.

The cherries that grow on the coffee tree need to be picked at the right time. The cherries are mainly picked by hand and we need to pick about 21 cherries to make 1 espresso. There are many factors that determine the flavour of the coffee, some of these factors are: type of tree, amount of rain, soil, temperatures, elevation, harvesting methods, processing methods etc.

The seeds, called green beans, are then shipped to the roastery. The roaster sometimes blends different beans together to acquire a specific flavour profile. The roaster then heats the beans in a roaster for a certain amount of time to develop all the different flavours. Coffee roasting is a very complex process and the best roasters have many years of experience which is required to develop their expertise.

Making good coffee is not rocket science but it does require some basic knowledge. A clean coffee machine, high quality coffee beans, clean and fresh water, good pressure and consistent brewing temperate are all important. However, we believe it comes down to 4 important things whilst working behind the machine:

Fresh coffee (the fresher the better)
Dosage (7 grams for a single espresso, 14 grams for a double)
Fineness (correct fineness results in an extraction time of 25 seconds)
Amount of water (40 ml for a single espresso, 80 ml for a double espresso)
1) Fresh coffee is really important. Coffee is a food product and loses its flavours over time. Denby Dale Coffee therefore roasts coffee weekly. Make sure that your ground coffee is not older than 2 hours.

2) Dosage is extremely important. Always make sure that the compartment in the coffee grinder is full and dispenses a full dosage. It’s really important that you use the same amount of coffee each time. Be consistent with the dosage.

3) Fineness will control the speed of the extraction. The fineness will determine the flavours that will be extracted from the coffee.

4) It’s important not too extract too much water through ground coffee. There is only so much flavour to extract. The suggested maximum amount of water for a single espresso (7 grams of ground coffee) is 40 ml. A double espresso (14 grams of ground coffee) can extract 80 ml. Automatic espresso machines can be pre-set.

The coffee grinder has two burrs that grind the coffee beans into ground coffee. The coffee grinder can be adjusted to grind the ground coffee finer or coarser. The fineness of the ground coffee will control the speed of the extraction.

A kg of coffee beans will make 140 single espressos. Keep this in mind when filling up the grinder with whole beans.

We recommend checking the setting of the grinder every morning and throughout the day. Temperate changes can affect the way the coffee grinder grinds the coffee. Most grinders are pretty consistent and do not require adjusting very often, but it’s still a good practice to check the settings as often as possible.

The speed of extraction or extraction time is very important. This can be compared to a tea. Imagine a tea that has been brewed for 30 seconds and a tea that has been brewed for 3 minutes. Both teas will taste completely different. It works the same with coffee.

Finer ground coffee will result in a slower extraction than coarser ground coffee. In other words, the finer the ground coffee, the slower the extraction.

The extraction should be around 25 seconds, give or take a few seconds. Count the extraction time from the moment you press the button on the espresso coffee machine.

Make the ground coffee finer if the extraction time is below 20 seconds and make the ground coffee coarser if the extraction time is longer than 30 seconds.

Most coffee grinders have a rotating disc just below the hopper. This disc can be turned clockwise or anti-clockwise. Turning this disc will make the coffee finer or coarser. Only change the setting one step at a time.

  • Take out the double group handle and clean it
  • Grind enough ground coffee for a double shot – two full compartments in the coffee chamber
  • Tamp the coffee – be consistent and use the same amount of pressure each time
  • Brew two single espresso’s – 2 x 40ml (use a shot glass if necessary)
  • Count the extraction time from the moment you press the button – it should be 25 seconds (give or take a few seconds)
  • Adjust the grinder by making the ground coffee finer or coarser if necessary – only with 1 or 2 clicks at a time

Grind some ground coffee for a few seconds to dispose of old coffee
Repeat the process until you have reached a correct extraction time

The coffee supplier should set up your coffee machine to the correct settings. However, we often find espresso coffee machines that are set up incorrectly. Most espresso coffee machines have buttons which are set to a certain amount of water. As you have read earlier, the amount of water is very important. Too much water will not give you a good espresso.

A single espresso should be 40ml and a double espresso 80ml. We recommend using a shot glass with a line for setting up the espresso coffee machine.

What is the best thing to do here? We recommend to check the water levels of your espresso coffee machine. If it has been setup incorrectly then please contact us and we will advice you on how to set it up correctly. Every espresso coffee machine works different and we do not want to give you any wrong information. Please contact us if you think that your espresso coffee machine might have been set up incorrectly.

Very important and often not well explained: which button should you use?

The buttons for an automatic espresso coffee machines are set to a certain amount of water. This is important because the amount of water that goes through the coffee needs to be correct.

Most automatic espresso machines have 5 buttons. The last button on the right is usually for manual flow. The buttons with 1 cup are usually set to 40 ml and the buttons with 2 cups are set to 80 ml. On the picture above this means that button 1 and 2 are set to 40 ml and button 3 and 4 are set to 80 ml.

Button 1 and 2 should be used for a single group handle (a handle with one spout). Button 3 and 4 are for a double group handle (a handle with 2 spouts).

A good single espresso is a 40 ml coffee made with approximately 7 grams of fresh ground coffee. The extraction time should be 25 seconds (give or take a few seconds). A double espresso is 80 ml made with 14 grams extracted in 25 seconds (same time as a single espresso).

A good espresso depends on a few factors:

Quality coffee beans
Freshness of the coffee
Correct fineness (20-25 seconds extraction time)
Dosage (approximate 7 grams)
Water (40 ml)
Water pressure
Brewing temperature
Water quality
Tamping (compressing the ground coffee)
Fresh coffee, correct fineness, dosage, amount of water and tamping procedures are very important for the barista.

Follow these steps when making an espresso:

Grind fresh coffee
Grind enough coffee to fill the compartment of the grinder giving you a full dosage – 1 compartment for a single espresso, 2 compartments for a double espresso
Take out the group handle and clean it with a dry towel
Fill the group handle with the correct amount of coffee
Tamp the coffee using the same pressure every time
Use a warm cup or pre-heat the cup
Use 40 ml for a single espresso and 80 ml for a double espresso
Check the extraction time (should be around 20-25 seconds)

The espresso should have a constant flow looking like warm honey. The crema on top of the espresso should be brown like hazelnut. The crema should also be consistent and stay on top for a good minute or two. High quality 100% Arabica coffees may lose their crema more quickly than Robusta coffees, which is quite normal. We believe a blend of both Arabica and Robusta coffee beans deliver the finest quality espressos.

A Ristretto is a short espresso, approx. 20ml.

A Ristretto can be made by making the ground coffee finer and still using 7 grams of ground coffee, extracting 20ml in 20 seconds.

An espresso macchiato is an espresso topped with a dollop of foam.

An Americano is an espresso diluted with water. We recommend pouring the espresso on top of the hot water. Try not to pour hot water on top of the espresso as you might burn away flavours from the crema.

Milk steams best when it’s fresh and has not been steamed before. Milk also foams better when you start with cold milk; the best foam comes from milk with a temperature below 15 °C. Steam the milk to a maximum of 72 °C.

The steam wand of the espresso coffee machine heats the milk and forces air into the milk. The longer you steam the hotter the milk.

The position of the tip of the steam wand is really important. Never put the steam tip too deep into the milk. The steam needs to be able to move around through the milk and therefore works best when it’s right under the surface of the milk.

Add fresh cold milk to the jug and fill it to a maximum of half full.
Purge the steam wand before steaming to clear out condensation and to heat the steam wand.
Place the tip of the steam wand between the side of the jug and the centre of the jug, just an inch into the milk. This will allow the steam to create a whirlpool in the jug. The better the whirlpool the smoother the milk. The milk should be spinning inside the jug at all times.
The better the spinning the smoother the milk. The milk will not spin properly when the steam tip is too deep into the milk. The milk will not spin either when the steam is not turned on to full power. Always make sure that the steam has enough power to move the milk around.
Moving the steam tip right on the surface of the milk will create foam. You will hear a high chirping noise when doing this. Always create the foam in the beginning when the milk is cold. The colder the milk, the better the foam. The milk will rise whilst creating foam. Keep the steam tip on the surface of the milk to create the foam, keep listening to the high chirping noise. The longer you do this, the more foam you will create. Be really precise here and you will create really smooth foam without any bubbles.
Move the steam tip an inch deeper into the milk once you have created enough foam. The milk should still spin around but there should be no more high chirping noise. It’s really important that the milk is now spinning around. The spinning will mix the foam with milk making it very smooth. The longer you spin the milk around the smoother the foam.
Turn the foam off once you have reached approx. 65-70 °C. (visual shows 65)
Once finished steaming, clean the steam wand right away.
Gently tap the jug on the counter to burst any bubbles in the milk
Always spin the jug around before pouring to give the milk a shiny glossy look
This technique should give you very smooth foam, called micro foam. Keep remembering to spin the milk whilst steaming and be very precise with lowering the jug. The more precise you lower the jug the smoother the foam will be.

We don’t believe in set rules for coffee, it all depends on what you are looking for. However, this is a guideline for the difference between a caffe latte and a cappuccino.

A caffe latte is usually milder than a cappuccino and often served in a taller cup or glass. A cappuccino is usually served in a cup of about 9oz. A caffe latte is usually served in a glass or mug of about 12oz.

A cappuccino should have more foam than a caffe latte. The cappuccino should be a mixture of espresso, milk and foam with every sip. The caffe latte is more espresso and milk with maybe a dash of foam.

A caffe latte is an espresso diluted with hot steamed milk topped with a dash of foam.

The caffe latte is usually poured in a glass but can also be poured in a cup of mug. A caffe latte can be poured with latte art or can be poured as a layered latte.

Steam the milk and pour into a glass and let this stand whilst you prepare the espresso. Now pour an espresso very slowly on top and the espresso, milk and foam should create 3 different layers. Pouring the espresso on top of the milk creates a so called latte macchiato.

So what is a Cafe au Lait? That is French for ‘coffee with milk’. It’s usually a cup of coffee with hot milk.

A cappuccino is an espresso topped with hot milk and foam.

A cappuccino is usually served in a cup. The foam should be shiny without big bubbles, looking like melted ice cream.

You should have enough foam so that every sip contains espresso, milk and foam; all the way through the drink.

Most people top the cappuccino with a dusting of chocolate. Do not use cocoa as it is quite bitter.

We recommend using a belly jug for cappuccinos. Spin the jug before pouring the milk; this will make the foam wet and shiny. Now hold the cup and jug at an angle so you bring the jug as close to the espresso as possible. Slowly wiggle the jug from side to side to force the foam out of the jug. Do it slowly and close to the espresso so the foam floats on top. Keep doing this until you have enough foam on top. Once you have enough foam pour the milk by pouring from a little higher to let the milk through.

You should now have a beautiful mixture between milk, espresso and foam.

Latte art is the pouring of milk in a certain way to create various shapes such as rosetta’s and hearts. Start pouring the milk into the centre of the cup containing the espresso then practice making your shapes. Gently shaking the froth from side to side when the cup is 2/3 full can create a leaf effect.

Mix hot chocolate powder with a small amount of hot milk and stir this until it becomes a great mixture. Now top up the mixture with steamed foamy milk.

Most people make a caffe mocha the same as a hot chocolate and simply add a shot of espresso. Mix some hot chocolate powder with espresso and milk. Then top this up with steamed foamy milk.

Great drinks for the summer! A frappe is a thick iced drink, can also be called a milkshake or thick shake.

All you need is a blender, some ice, some milk and frappe mix like ZUMA.

– Fill a take out cup with ice and add this to blender.

– Add 1 or 2 table spoons of ZUMA frappe mix.

– add 1 or 2 oz of milk

Blend for 30 seconds until the drink is smooth enough to drink and thick enough to eat from a spoon.

Simply add a shot of espresso before blending to create an Iced Cappuccino. You can also add flavoured syrups such as caramel and strawberry to create flavoured frappes.

The cleaner the equipment is, the cleaner the taste.

Always clean the group handles and the filters at the end of each day. Take the filter out the group handle and thoroughly clean it.

Now place a blank filter in the group handle and back-flush the group head. Place the group handle with the blank filter in the group head and flush the water through for 10 seconds. Stop the flow after 10 seconds and repeat this process for 5 times.

We recommend using a group head back-flushing powder at least every 2nd day. This will give the group head a thorough clean. Make sure that you clean the group head with water after using a cleaning product to make sure that there is no cleaning product left in the group head.

Always leave the group handles in the coffee machine, they should be warm.
Always use warm cups as it feels nice to hold and it doesn’t cool down the coffee.

Work quick, never let an espresso go cold.
Brew the espresso as soon as you insert the group handle. The group head is very hot and will start burning the coffee otherwise. Always brew as soon as possible.

Do not place your thermometers in a dishwasher.
Work like a professional. Know what you are doing and work tidy. This will make a good impression on your customers.
Keep your machine clean. Always back flush the machine once or twice a day and use a cleaning powder every so often.
Measure the correct amounts of milk. Milk is best when it’s fresh, reheating will reduce the flavour.

Never heat the milk more than 72 °C, everything has its limits.
Always dose the correct amount. Make sure that the compartment in the coffee grinder is filled enough.

Don’t forget to smile when you serve a coffee.
An espresso should be served with a spoon and a glass of water.
Big bubbles and professional barista’s do not go well together.
Don’t forget that this is just a manual. The best way to learn is to practise or to join a barista course.

Bitter coffee is often a result of the setup of the coffee machine and the coffee grinder. It is usually not the coffee and if you have bought coffee from us then it’s very unlikely that the problem lies with the coffee.

A dirty coffee machine that has not been back flushed regularly will give bitter coffees.

Clean the machine properly and back flush the group heads.

Coffee that is too fine or too coarse can result in bitter coffee. Coffee that is too fine will have a very long extraction time (more than 30 seconds). Too coarse coffee will come out too quick (under 20 seconds). A wrong setup of the coffee grinder is most often the result of bitter coffee.

Make the ground coffee coarser or finer to achieve a good extraction time. Aim for an extraction time between 20 and 25 seconds (count from when you press the button).

Espresso coffee machines forces hot water through the ground coffee in the group handle. The correct amount for a single espresso is 40ml. For a double espresso this should be 80ml.

Forcing too much water through is like using the coffee twice. It can result in bitter coffee.

Use a measuring shot glass or use an espresso cup and fill it to 1/3 or 1/2 full for a single espresso depending on the cup size.

Bitterness in coffee can also be because the beans are stale. Make sure that you use very fresh coffee.

Is the extraction good? Are the ground coffee and coffee beans fresh? Is the machine clean? Correct amount of water? If the answers are all yes, then it might just be the quality of the coffee.