Sunday, November 11, 2007

Bad Weather, Bad Coffee and Bad Latte Art

Every year summer threatens to slaughter the Melbourne coffee scene. Those 30C+ days absolutely slaughter coffee if the heat can get to them. My coffee setup is, unfortunately, somewhat exposed to the dry and hot weather outside, so I'm bracing myself for it. First Pour is open to the elements via the roller door and the sunlight belting down on the corrugated iron roof doesn't exactly make things easy on the barista. Over a four hour shift, I have had to make many, many changes to both grind and brew temperature to keep everything tasting right. Meanwhile, Andrew is experimenting with storing his coffee in a wine fridge at Maling Room. I will probably experiment with some styrofoam esky storage at home.

Yes, it's red alert time and everyone is battening down the hatches, bracing for impact and sipping from porcelain demitasses with raised pinky fingers. So far, it seems like everyone is staying on top of things and, indeed, over the last month I have been drinking exceptionally sweet espresso on a more regular basis than ever before. Wierd.

In honour of the dawning of the "everything goes to $#!t" season, I have decided to start fooling around with double rosettas at home. I have always thought that these things look particularly ugly, and learning to pour them results in ugly pours even by regular double rosetta standards. I seem to be able to get the second one to come out looking OK, but blobby. But, in doing so, the first one gets mangled. Observe:

That's about the best that I have been able to do. The left one was poured first. I would welcome any tips from the seasoned vets out there. What works for you? Do you like to let the milk sit, or do you pour straight away? Do you lift up the spout after the first, or just move it over? Do you like the milk thinner like you would stretch it to create large, delicate leaves on a single rosetta, or do you like it thicker to make it easier to get shorter leaves on your second rosetta? I'm interested in all opinions that do not involve going over a 170mL/5oz cup.

Hopefully at least if and when bad coffee sets in I will be able to enjoy good latte art.


At 2:21 PM, Anonymous James Hoffmann said...

Doubles and triples have always been a source of frustration for me. I like the technical challenge, but I hate even the best ones in the cup.

For me it is the moment that you switch from being a barista for the customer to being a barista for other baristas. I am not saying this is all bad - competition pushes us a lot further than most incentives but I think if we are going to call it art, and look at it from an aesthetic point of view then nothing beats a full, even, detailed single rosetta.

Anyway - for me I'd always pour later than I usually would for a single and drag more as well giving stubbier but neater leaves, tigher rosettas I guess, that are less likely to get mushed up during the second of third rosetta. In the name of symmetry I try and pour a second tight, dragged rosetta to match. This is for you typical 160-180ml cup.

At 6:38 PM, Blogger "Grendel" said...

gotta confess that as it is 37 here today I have shifted to cold process until the High over the Bight shifts along and we get our cool moist westerly's back.

Also got my beans in the wine fridge and won't be roasting till mid week by the look of the chart from the bureau.

At 9:25 PM, Anonymous mattyj said...

ah stop ya whinging and move to sydney. it's cold and rainy here.

At 10:50 PM, Blogger "Grendel" said...

From your description matty it sounds as if Melbourne's weather has already done just that.

At 7:41 PM, Anonymous simon James said...

What James said, and I keep the milk silky.
Who wants blobby rosettas??? ;-)


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