Is it possible to get high on just coffee? You can, I realised after I attended a barista workshop at the newly launched Lavazza training centre in Chennai.
I lost track of how much coffee I drank during the course of the workshop that lasted for over an hour. I learnt about coffee, its origin and different blends. I tried everything from an espresso to coffeetails (mocktails with coffee) and hot brew to cold brew. I made one or two myself. In the end, I was as fascinated with the making of coffee was as I was with the beverage itself.
The workshop started with tasting three different types of coffee (mainly espresso, as you will be able to taste the original flavour). The first one was a mixture of arabica and robusta. According to barista and Head Trainer Abdul Sahid Khan, the best espresso from this combination should have golden yellow colour. When he brewed it, it was. It tasted a lot like filter decoction and was bitter. The second one I tried was Oro aroma, 100 per cent arabica made from washed coffee beans and produced in India. The third type was called pienaroma, again 100 per cent arabica washed coffee obtained from Brazil, Peru and Honduras. Espresso made from pienaroma was lighter than Oro aroma but more acidic and tangy.
I’m sure you have your doubts about what washed coffee means. Washed is a processing method used by coffee roasters. There are two types of processing – natural and washed. In natural process picked coffee cherries are sun dried. They are bitter as they are mixture of ripe and green coffee cherries. In case of washed, picked cherries are first put in a water tank to obtain ripe cherries as the raw ones settle under water. Ripe cherries are again placed in a another water tank to remove the outer layer of cherries that lends bitter taste to coffee. So 100 per cent arabica obtained from this process is less bitter, light and acidic. When consumed, it leaves a tangy after taste.
Now comes the best part. Making your own latte and cappuccino. The process in simple and very similar to making filter coffee except you use hi-tech machines. First you steam full cream milk, then brew espresso (equivalent to decoction) from the machine and mix them together. Your steaming cup of coffee is ready.
Abdul made this process look so easy. For a beginner like me it is easier said than done. When you steam the milk, you should take care that the nozzle of the steamer just grazes the milk. Once the steam is on, place your left hand on the bottom of the container while holding the can on the right. Once the temperature reaches tolerance level, that is over 75 degree celsius, stop the steamer. Now, the milk is ready. Next is to prepare espresso to go with milk. You need to use arabica and robusta mix for this purpose. First you grind coffee beans using semi-automatic machine and then you brew espresso.
Final and the most important step is mixing the two. You cannot just mix like you do at home. There should not be milk bubbles but just enough foam to make the drink. If you are making cappuccino, you need more milk foam. So you need hold on to the container and shake it in a controlled manner as you pour milk. In case of cafe latte, you need foam only on top to make latte design. For this you pour the milk steadily and jiggle it a bit in the centre to create the design. (I’m sure it is obvious that the barista had to help me out while making latte design.)
Abdul comforted me saying, “Your art will be better after your 6th cup.”
It took me 10-15 minutes for the whole process. But when I saw the coffee I made, well at least the first three steps, I couldn’t help but feel content. It is true that when you are the one making it, the coffee tastes extra special.
So how many coffee so far, hmm, I think I had already crossed six right here. This is not including yummy hazelnut flavoured cafe macchiato Abdul concocted as a treat. Right about now, I was feel a bit light-headed and already losing a bit of realism. But there was more to come, cold brew that is rich in caffeine and just right for hot weather outside.