Screaming beans

It all started when I visited Peter and Katy in London during the celebration of New Year 2011. Peter is a Dutch friend who did a traineeship in London and has stayed there ever since. It is also the place where he met Katy, his very kind girlfriend. Peter cooked nice food for us and we drank some homemade gluhwein. You can imagine that we didn’t sleep a lot.

60 degrees
Peter also surprised us with his delicious cappuccino. He told us about the way he makes his coffee. “I use ice cold fat milk. It’s easier to make foam with it and it tastes creamy. When I foam the milk, I only heat it up to max. 60-65 degrees. If the milk warms up too much, the proteins will break and you will lose flavour.”

Screaming beans
I loved his explanation and started watching Youtube videos about coffee and latte art. For my 29th birthday, I received a barista course as a gift. I went to a coffee place called “Screaming Beans” and jumped into the world of “black gold”. First, we learned some history about a shepherd who saw his sheep dancing. He found out that they had eaten from berries: “coffee beans”. A nice story, but a lot has been changed since then. Coffee is the number two most traded product, next to oil. And if you love coffee, you are willing to pay more for the taste of quality.

Washed / Unwashed
The two major kinds of coffee are Robusta and Arabica. Robusta is easier to produce, because it’s less susceptible to diseases. Coffee from South America has flavours of nuts, coffee from Africa of citrus, and coffee from South Asian countries like Indonesia have cocoa flavours. The higher (maximum height 2000 meter) the coffee plants are, the better the quality. After the beans are picked by hand, they need to be processed for roasting. There are two ways of doing that: 1. After selection, the beans are dried in the sun for 4 weeks until they have a humidity of 10%. Then the beans are separated from its pulp in a machine. The second method is to remove the pulp in a fermenting process with water, after which they are dried in the sun until they have a humidity of 10%. The unwashed method adds sweet flavours to the coffee bean. Washed beans have a fresh taste. Furthermore, washed coffee beans are shiny and unwashed beans not.

Air valve
After the beans are roasted, they need to be packed in packaging with an air valve. This ensures that carbon gases can escape from the bag. Otherwise the bag will explode. If you buy coffee in a bag without an air valve, it means that the beans are less fresh and have lost a lot of its flavours. There are of course differences in quality of beans. First of all, the beans need to be ripe. When you buy coffee in the supermarket or at Starbucks, it mostly concerns a combination of beans from different countries (for example: melange or Illy). The more expensive coffee comes from the same farmer, or sometimes even from the same group of coffee plants. And did you know that a ‘normal’ cup of coffee contains much more caffeine than an espresso?

Perfect cappuccino
After receiving all the information, and after the smelling and tasting of great coffee, we were challenged to make our own perfect cappuccino. After grinding the beans, I worked very quickly, because air and light harms the flavours of the beans immediately. And then I just followed the next steps:

  • Everything clean?
  • Fill your milk jug.
  • Pre-steam to clean nozzle
  • Put the nozzle just above the milk
  • Steam
  • Put your hands around the jug.
  • Rotate milk by means of the steam
  • Heat up the milk until your hands can’t easily hold the jug any more (30 degrees)
  • Then put your nozzle a little deeper into the milk and heat the milk to 60 degrees.
  • Stop steaming
  • Clean nozzle by shortly open the steamer again (without the jug of milk)
  • Clean nozzle with a cleaning cloth
  • Beat the jug of milk to remove the last air bubbles
  • Rotate the jug until the milk is velvet
  • Pour the milk into the cup with your perfect espresso
  • Start high and finish low on the edge of the cup
  • Composition:1/3 coffee, 1/3 milk and 1/3 foam
  • Serve and clean

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