I was recently commissioned to write a story about what it takes to barista the perfect cup of coffee. While I love drinking coffee and I’m completely fascinated by this industry, I’m not a trained barista!! But I’m very interested in the caffeine culture and the stories behind why so many coffee shops are either successful or a complete failure based on that they only really produce a product made of milk, coffee and sugar. I decided to run a series of coffee interviews with a few baristas from some of my favorite coffee shops in DFW.
A spin-off to the series and will be published soon on visitdfw.com but here’s a snippet of the interview with Courtney Reed, Barista and general Manager for Buon Giorno Coffee and Roastery in Southlake, Texas.
What makes a good barista stand out in the world of competitive coffee shops in DFW?
I think that ‘Heads Up’ service is a crucial component that many stores do not focus on. Your coffee may be incredible, but if people feel uncomfortable or unwelcome, they will not want to return. A quick bit of eye contact with each person makes sure that the line is moving, gives you a feel for the speed of transactions and tickets, and helps build the crucial “we’re all in this together” feeling of relaxing service interaction. Once you are able to look up and engage, knowing by sound that your milk is steaming correctly, multi-tasking by counting your shot timing and smiling or chatting with customers, then you are a true barista. Having these skills allows you to be confident and in control of making sure people are getting the best experience.
Your top three tips on making a great cup of coffee?
Four major components are vital for any kind of good coffee: time, temperature, water quality and grind. Grind and time go hand in hand. You want to make sure that the grind is appropriate for the method of brewing you are using because the time that the water will be exposed to the grinds directly correlates with the flavor you will extract from it. If you’re pulling an espresso shot, you want the grind to be super fine to create as much surface area as possible since it will only be exposed to the water for just under 30 seconds. With a French press you want a coarser grind because the grinds sit in the water for four minutes and if you used a finer grind, it would become over extracted. The type of grinder you use is also essential. Always use a burr grinder for grind uniformity. The more uniform and consistent the grind, the more even the extraction and the better the taste. Use filtered water to make coffee. Water that you like the taste of for drinking. If you don’t like the way the water tastes, you won’t like the way the coffee tastes. Temperature is critical because if it’s too hot, it will give the coffee an ashy or burnt taste because it will be over-extracted. Conversely, if it is too cold, it will be under-extracted which will cause your coffee to be acidic and sour. Using the right beans is also vital. Go for locally roasted, fresh beans. My favorite is our Harrar from Ethiopia.
Read the full interview click HERE on my continuing series on interviewing cool people around the world!