What to check when walking into a coffee shop?
Almost every day you happen to walk into a bar or coffee shop and order your coffee or cappuccino.
But have you ever stopped to check if the steps performed by the barista are correct to offer you a quality product?
The next time you walk into a venue and order the magical black drink, check out the following 5 essential steps to make sure only the best is brought to you:
- The cleanliness of the hopper and the color of the beans contained
- The cleaning of the station and the sponges
- Cleaning the steam wand
- Cleaning and drying the filter
- Bleeding the machine shower
But let's find out together exactly what these steps are and why they are important!
The cleanliness of the hopper and the color of the beans contained
The hopper is the bell, generally transparent, positioned above the grinder. It contains the beans that the bartender will grind to be able to extract your espresso.
This is essential that it is clean, never shiny or oily.
Also be careful that there are no dark and shiny grains stuck to its walls.
As can be guessed, the hopper is the container of our food product, so if it is dirty, it automatically spoils the result on the goodness of the coffee in the cup.
In addition, the coffee beans are rich in essential oils, responsible for aromaticity. If they come out they make the bean shiny and sticky and this is much more likely to occur when the beans are dark roasted and therefore have an intense color tending to black, as can be seen in the photo below.
When the oils come out, first of all they dirty the bell more easily, and secondly they accelerate the oxidation of the beans. We will then feel this in the cup with hints of rancid and stale.
In summary, it is good to see a transparent and well-cleaned hopper, with beans of a medium roast inside.
The cleaning of the station and the sponges
It goes without saying that it's always nice to walk into a cafè and see everything in order and clean.
But even more important is to see that the entire beverage preparation station is clean, without encrustations and with the sponges carefully used, each for its specific function. Without forgetting the bartender's apron!
Specifically, there must be a sponge for the counter, one for the steam wand, one for the machine, and a jolly for any other needs.
Cleaning the steam wand
The steam wand is perhaps one of the tools that I most often find dirty in the premises.
It is the device of the machine that allows the release of high pressure steam to be able to froth and heat the milk.
Its cleaning is really essential, not to be picky, but to avoid the formation of colonies of bacteria.
In fact, if it is not cleaned immediately with a sponge after each whipping, the milk that remains encrusted continues to heat up, until it burns. This favors the formation of colonies of bacteria that will inevitably end up in your cup of macchiato or in your cappuccino.
Furthermore, it is not enough to clean it externally, but it must be purged for a few seconds, after and before each whipping, releasing a small jet of steam, before immersing it in the milk jug.
Cleaning and drying the filter
The arm that you can see in the photo above is called a group and goes to hook up to the machine. At its end it has a tray suitable for containing a filter, which in turn contains the ground coffee panel.
When you order a coffee, the barista goes to unhook the group from the machine and slams the tank into a drawer to remove the old used coffee panel.
Before inserting the fresh coffee to extract the coffee you require, you should clean any residual ground coffee with a brush and, when possible, also dry the filter with a rag.
This is very important because: the residues that are not eliminated by the filter will undergo further extraction with water at high temperatures.
So what will this entail?
The remaining coffee grounds will be burnt and over extracted, making your cup bitter, with aromatic notes of burnt.
Think if these small particles of ground coffee are not only left for a few coffees, but remain there all day, even after 2,3,4,5 hundred coffees.
Bleeding the machine shower
The same goes for the hand shower. It is that part where the group hooks up to the machine, which allows the water to escape for extraction.
There, too, the ground coffee particles are deposited, and the mechanism is always that of the filter. If you do not drain the machine, letting the water out for a few seconds before extracting the next coffee, the residues will always remain stuck there for the whole day, going to burn and therefore making your cup bitter and with hints of burning.
Initially it seems difficult to be able to make a coffee quickly following its optimal recipe to extract the best and clean and control every step of the process, but after only a few days of persistence, all this comes naturally. So natural that you will no longer be able to prepare a coffee-based drink without following all these steps, because they will come by instinct, the hands will move by themselves.
All this serves only to be able to offer a product of the highest quality possible to the consumer.
These are small gestures that occupy the bartender only a few seconds, but which in the final result really make the difference.
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