The Coffee Guide
A personal guide to great coffee
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As is obvious on my instagram feed (@j.morck), I am a huge coffee addict and work part time as a barista. For me the latte art have caught my attention as I feel challenged and encouraged to brew more delicious coffee. That’s why I’ve decided to bring you the coffee guide. There are however many types of delicious espresso based drinks! For this feature I will focus on the drinks that you find at most coffee houses and coffee bars.
But first of all – why do I love it coffee? Because of that warm rounded hazelnutty, roasted yet a bit sour taste? Because of the oily aromatic scent? Because of the refreshing feel from all the caffeine? It’s hard to tell which part of the coffee is best, but a combination, at least for me (I’d like to hear what you think).
A friend of mine once said that he understood why people would hate coffee, as ‘it is like really really bitter!’ However, when a great cup of coffee is done properly, the bitterness is the last thing you are really wondering about! I on the other hand, understand why people would dislike coffee, if they’ve only been introduced properly. My girlfriend was like that. She had only introduced to coffee from her mom and dad, which only served it when they had visitors over. Not to save it for something special, but because they disliked it, and therefore never drank it. As they never drank coffee, they never tasted it, and therefore didn’t know what exactly it should taste like. The result was, that my girlfriend had only tasted poorly brewed coffee and claimed to dislike coffee in general. And I have been fine with that.
However, the last few years I’ve come to learn quite a lot about the refinement of this drink as I’ve worked part time as a barista and studied a lot of great baristas. So when she came to me, talking about how she had tasted some cappuccino and a café latte at some road trip, and said that it was ‘not all bad’, I seized the moment to brew her some delicious coffee.
She had referred to the latte as tasting a bit like ashes and therefore referred to this drink as the stronger of these two. Of course this is not how the drink should taste like. And a latte is by definition not stronger than a cappuccino! So I poured her a sweet milky Café Latte and delicious cappuccino. She immediately noticed the difference.
As her taste buds probably never has accustomed to this kind of taste, she’s not at all in love with it (yet..). She is on the other hand but is able to enjoy a great cup of coffee. That is just until I introduced her to the caramel latte macchiato. This drink lights a candle in her eyes. After taking the first sip she replied that, this was the first time that she had got a cup of coffee that she actually loves! I’m sure that the syrup and the layered visual helps of course!
But enough of all this! I’ll go through some of my favourite espresso and milk based drinks and their differences.
As for a start there is the Espresso. An espresso is a small sized (single 2oz and double 4oz) drink with hot water running through your grinded coffee beans for no more than 24 seconds (depending on the beans and the machine). An espresso consists of two layers; the coffee and the crema on top. The crema is basicly small bubbles, created by the pressure in the brewing process, coated in the oils from the coffee beans, adding a ‘cream’ foam on top. The crema tastes very different from the rest of the coffee, and may perceived as a bit sour, but adding a real nice edge to the espresso. If you are having an espresso and there is none or almost none crema you are missing out on the experience. Had I ordered one, and there was none, I had send it back immediately.
A latte is more of a milky drink. It is around 1:3 ratio of espresso and steamed milk with a layer of micro foam on top. This drink is in general rather sweet due to the amount of milk that is used for this coffee drink. At many coffee houses these days you have the option to add either Hazelnut, Caramel or Vanilla syrup to this drink to get a varied taste. Personally it gets to sweet for my taste, but if I do want to spice it up, vanilla is the option I would stick with.
The cappuccino is in general stronger (higher ratio of espresso) than the latte, and consists of a third coffee, a third steamed milk and a third of frothed milk foam. A Cappuccino is often served in a smaller cup than a latte and sometimes a bit of chocolate powder on top, depending on the barista. I prefer to serve the coffee with a just piece of chocolate beside instead – it tastes better.
Some baristas claim that a Flat White is merely a small Latte. However, as they may be correct about the size, they are however wrong about the rest! It’s a smaller cup than the latte, however it is brewed with more espresso (between 1:1 or 1:2 ratio), steamed milk like a latte and but then topped with only a thin flat layer of micro foam (hence the name ‘Flat White’). This delicate drink originates from down under, but has the recent years gained a lot of interest in the USA and Europe. This drink is a personal favourite of mine these days as the thin top layer gives it a silky smooth feel when drinking it but has a taste that is strong as a bull!
Travelling to Spain, Portugal and Latin America you will most likely bump into the Cortado at various coffee houses. One of the espresso drinks that, like the Flat White, have entered the main stream coffee market lately. Regarding the size, the Cortado is only a little smaller than a Flat White and is usually served in a glass. But where the Flat White and the Latte is steamed with wet micro foam on top, the Cortado is served only with heated milk. However, many baristas add a very very thin layer of micro foam on top to add some latte art. An obvious difference between a cortado and a flat white is the heat. The Flat White is served, like a latte, very hot. A Cortado on the other hand, is a drink meant to be drunk in the afternoon in countries with warm weather, which is why it is not served as hot. One would not be sitting sipping boiling hot coffee in 35°C (95°F)! About the taste, it somehow reminds of a mix of pure espresso and a cappuccino like taste. The heated milk adds a rounded flavour to the espresso, but is definitely true to the espresso taste!
Though the Cortado is meant for the afternoon, I love starting my workdays with one of these bad boys!
That’s a wrap for The Coffee Guide and thank you for reading.
All the coffees are brewed and poured by my self.