Last weekend was the Big Central Regional Barista Competition, I will post a blog about it soon, but there I had a lot of great conversations with a ton of awesome people in the industry. A common thing that I talked about was how beautiful the Nuova Simonelli Aurelia T3 and how much fun it was to play and use these beautiful machines during competition. It then brought up how frustrated I was to have a machine such as a Brasilia as my espresso machine that I used every day. The common response was honestly not the response I was wanting. The response was something like “so…” Or “and…” I was confused by the response. I was expecting something like “man, I feel sorry for you.” Or “how could you deal with that kind of machine.”
It was more of a response of… “so… You are a talented barista, it doesn’t matter what kind of machine you have.” They would continue to explain that the knowledge I gained from this competition, in my constant learning, or experience that it would part of it. And it makes sense.
As a barista we know, because we were taught or learned from experience that water is stupid. It takes the path of least residence. So if you don’t pack level, evenly, or with enough pressure. You would have a not so tray shot, or underextracted shot of espresso. You also learn that if a shot us pulling to fast or too slow you can do a couple things… Adjust the grind or adjust the pressure of tamping to make it taste better. These are just a few things to mention that you can change as a barista, but the machine us a different story.
Then there is the machine. There are things you cannot really control, say the even distribution of water flow from the group head. The temperature of the water that comes out of the espresso machine when shots are pulling, but its another we as baristas learn to take care of our machine even if we don’t like it. A clean machine is a happy machine. A happy machine makes happy baristas, which altogether make beautiful shots.
It would make sense that if you train your baristas with the knowledge they need, then they will succeed at pulling shots no matter the machine. You need to let them the “why’s” in coffee, rather than just telling them how. Let your baristas experiment. They will learn that by tamping light with cause an underextracted shot, or if they tamp too hard it will cause an overextracted shot. So let your baristas experiment, train them in the whys and not the hows.
Be happy where you at. I mean if you were not where you are now, you wouldn’t have the experiences you have now or merry the people you did.