I’ve tried giving up coffee before, but it’s not for me. so I’m just comfortable with having an addiction to a stimulant. hey, I LIKE being stimulated, who doesn’t? and coffee is enjoyable and socially beneficial, rarely incites people to violence and makes us more productive, so as long as it’s legal, why not? bring it on!
who knows whether the ‘Ethiopian Goat Herder‘ story is history or myth (pretty much the same thing in my line), but personally I like the imagery of some crazy goats getting a bit of a perk-up from coca berries to get them through the grind (sorry) of scrounging for sustanance amongst the rocks day after day. there’s something Leunig-esque about it, don’t you think?
I have Gone Down To Get Coffee with ‘Jo and Jo’ on a near daily basis for a few years now. we share a love/need for coffee, and it gives us a chance to catch up, gossip and whinge about the boss.. oh, and, I mean, talk about upcoming projects. it was during a coffee trip/whinge session that we decided that we should quit work and started a business together so it could be called ‘Jo, Jo, Zo & Co.’
hasn’t happened yet, and we’ve now lost a ‘Jo’, but before she left she brilliantly liased with our local, Coffee Dominion (sshhh! I go to several. I’m a coffee slut. don’t tell them) who agreed to facilitate 2x Coffee Appreciation and Espresso Training workshops as part of the school holiday program (SHP) we run. so last week, 12 eager 12-18 year olds and 3 even more eager staff members arrived bright and early for 3 hours of history, theory, bean grinding, expresso machine managing, timing, milk frothing, pouring .. and of course; tasting! we staff were suffering a serious case of SHP Hangover from days and days of activities and events (well, not Karyn, she just wanted coffee) so it was a very welcome event.
since this is a food blog, and some people will actually want some info on the coffee making itself, here are some tips:
coffee beans are best ground straight before brewing: grounds start to stale after 3 seconds, due to the massively increased surface area/volume ratio, even if vacuum packed etc.. so grind on demand!
it is the oil from the beans that is essential, not some other mysterious brown quality, which is why expresso (vs plunger or heaven forbid percolated) has such a nice ‘mouth feel’ – the hot water, forced through the grounds with pressure, captures the oil particles better.
speaking of water.. don’t use distilled water: the minerals are essential for ‘capturing’ the coffee oils and wrenching them from the grounds. but you can be picky – city tap H2O with added chlorine etc isn’t great either.
don’t overheat the milk!! it should be cooler than most people expect – only ‘froth’ to 55-60 degrees C or so.. after that the lactose levels that build up nicely at that heat all drop away again, and you loose the natural sweetness.
that’s all I can remember.. I think the young people enjoyed it, they really got into it, including what to look for in taste and texture, and rating each others brews. Justin told them they would be the most popular members of their family if they master the art of good coffee.. here are a few pics of Jonothan and some ‘trainee baristas’, including a baby cowboy (look how little he is!) who was surprisingly into it, and Penny’s son Zinzan (look out, girls).