Dear baristas of The Jewel Cafe, thank you for your dedication to the best possible coffee at The Oasis Centre. Thanks to Rogue Wave Coffee, we’re supplied with delicious beans, expertly and freshly roasted. Now it’s our job to render that roast into beautiful espresso shots, cappuccinos, and lattes. Every drink is your personal statement and a significant moment for the customer – the coffee of the day, even if its the second or third. Mastery of espresso takes years, and we may never arrive, as real coffee is alive; its most exquisite flavours are most elusive. Focus, love it, and relax. Open, humble, and serious effort, not perfection, is our standard.
Here are the guidelines for brewing and caring for the equipment. Training for milk can be on shift, along with hours of extraction training, practice, and caffeine buzz.
- Stock up black clothes
- Stock milk and check date
- Ensure waste water container is empty
- Stock glasses and cups
- Set up milk waste jug, milk beakers, fresh coffee, nespresso machine
- Set up order slips with pen and hole punch
- Unscrew the tip of the steam wand and soak it for a few minutes, inspect and poke out any blockages.
Dialing in the grinder (and maintaining calibration) throughout the shift
Over the hours, weather and humidity changes and machinery shifts, so the grinder needs to be recalibrated at the beginning of every shift and possibly throughout the shift, if necessary, to ensure proper extraction of the coffee. The process requires you to know the brewing parameters (weight in, weight out, extraction time) and the desired look and taste of the coffee (the colour and consistency of the flow and colour and consistency of the finished shot) as well as the flavour and mouthfeel of the coffee, a sense which develops over time. Don’t worry, be patient, enjoy.
- Grind fresh coffee. Dose 17 – 17.5 g into the portafilter, aiming low, measuring, and weighing until you get 17 g +/- 0.5.
- Level out the 17 g as a flat and even bed. Do not touch the grinds or do anything to disturb the even bed. I leven it out by rapidly, gently tapping the portafilter with my palm.
- Tamp evenly, firmly, yet gently. 30 kg of pressure is “official” but it’s basically “sure but gentle pressure.” Whatever you do, be consistent to eliminate the tamp as a variable.
- Once you’ve tamped, do not knock or shake the portafilter.
- Pre-heat and rinse cup
- Insert portafilter, then press extraction button, then pull cup under portafilter before coffee appears.
- Observe first moments of extraction until stop time. Stop the shot between 29-33 seconds, when the desired weight/visual amount is extracted and the shot is starting to blond (becoming yellow and runny).
How to observe the shot: look for some viscosity, a drop or two, but then a steady, even flow of chocolaty brown coffee. The coffee should not be runny, yellow, watery. Near the end of the shot, at 24-33 seconds, the shot will “blond” go yellow. It should still have some cohesion, but will blond. Stop the shot right there.
The finished shot should be free of yellow streaks (the result of under-extraction). A consistent brown crema, flecks of darker brown. Delicious.
How to calibrate extraction
You are dealing with 6 variables: weight in, weight out, grind size, and tamp pressure, water temperature, and pressure (9 bars). Of those variables, we control the first 4. We want to lock down input and output weight, extraction time, and tamp pressure, leaving one variable which we may adjust if needed – the grind setting. Dose evenly, 17 g, tamp your usual soft but sure tamp. Extract in about 30 seconds to the ideal weight, visual volume and colour/consistency. If you don’t extract the ideal coffee in the set time, you need to adjust the grind. Loosen the knob, and then, with the grinder running, turn the wheel slightly left or right. Right is finer – slower pour, more extraction. Left is coarser, faster pour, less extraction. If the grind setting seems good, yet not quite ace. You may adjust your tamp slightly rather than disturbing the grind setting. You may also experiment with the dose if you’re in control of the other variables, but it’s safer to stick with 17 g and master the other parameters.
Note: Weighing the output is new to our process. If not yet comfortable, you can gauge by eye and extraction time. Stop the shot when it blonds and you have about a cm of espresso in the cup. If you want to nail it: 17 grams in, 32 seconds through and 38 grams of espresso output. Tare the cup quickly before placing it under portafilter. Stop the shot at 29 – 32 seconds, and place the shot on the scale. Around 38 grams is our ideal shot. It’s okay if the output weight is off 38, but knowing the goal can guide you toward the “wow!” shot.
- If you’re on the evening shift, carry out the back flush cleaning. Take out the portafilters, replace the permeable screens with the impermeables or ‘blind filters.’ Sprinkle in a dollop of espresso cleaner. Load portafilters back in groups. Open the hatch on the lower half of the espresso machine. Hold down ‘enter,’ when the screen gives instructions, basically press enter until the machine starts humming and the cleaning cycle begins.
- Take all beakers and dirty cups to the washing machine, along with the waste grinds, the waste milk, and anything else that needs cleaning or laundry. Take the grates back too, but leave the solid base until after the entire cleaning cycle. Otherwise you’ll be cleaning more than you reckoned for.
- As part of back-flush cleaning, remove portafilters and press enter again for rinse.
- If you are cleaning up the afternoon shift, no need to do the back-flush. You may also wipe down the grates instead of running them through dish-washer, but either way, ensure that it’s beautiful. Steaming pitchers should be thoroughly cleaned.
- Important: take the waste water jug to the janitor closet. Pour it out, rinse it, and put it securely back under the counter with the hose inserted into it. If possible, wait until the cafe has cleared to avoid collisions and displaying an unsightly jug.
- Clean or rinse large solid base of espresso brewing surface.
- Unscrew nose of steam wand to soak in hot water for a few minutes. Reattach.
- In the catering area, clean the portafilters thoroughly with soap and spunge, rinse well, and install back in the group heads.
- If last shift of the day, pour unground coffee beans into the metal container and seal. Try to anticipate the last few coffees of the shift so that you can close the hopper gate, using the last grinds in the grinder, and leaving the grinder empty at last
- Use the microfibre clothes, one wet, one dry, to polish the gold. Completely polish one section at a time, and don’t miss the inside of the hatch. If the microfibres are used up, or you spend them, please grab two more from the janitor closet
- Wipe down all surfaces, including the floor with the wettest spent cloth.
- Restock clothes, cups, glasses, any needed materials. Leave the station gorgeous.