Making coffee is something that seems pretty straight forward. Coffee + hot water = caffeinated beverage. So you might be a bit surprised when I say I've been a barista for 3 years and recently visited Four Barrel Coffee (one of our roasters from San Francisco) for more training.
Almost everyone has brewed coffee in one form or another. If you ask around, you'll find that most people even have a preference for how strong they like their coffee. Usually this is communicated in a sentence that looks something like "I like to put X number of scoops in that machine." That's what we call a ratio. That sentence says "I prefer this much coffee to that much water." And while a scoop is not the most precise way to measure your coffee, that is one way to affect the flavor. However it's not the only way. Not by a long shot.
When you delve deeper into the coffee world you learn quickly about the many variables that affect that final cup:
Exactly how much coffee, how much water?
Coarse or fine?
How long is the water in contact with the coffee?
How hot is the water?
Is the coffee being stirred up or agitated in anyway during the process?
These are just the variables that affect the brewing process of coffee. There are so many other things from the plants location and variety, to the farms processes, and to the roasters skill and preference. Feeling a bit overwhelmed? All you wanted was a cup of coffee right? This is essentially where any good barista's journey should begin. Overwhelmed by the complexity of coffee. It's simultaneously daunting and enrapturing.
3 years of learning about coffee and I'm still learning more every day.
- Josiah -