(Espresso) Machine Learning
It can take years to refine your skills as a barista, as you learn how each of your actions influences the quality of a cup of coffee. When a customer compliments you on the delicious drink you made, your hard work and skills become an extension of this experience. Mastering a skill that makes people this happy is incredibly satisfying.
For a barista, the challenge doesn’t come from understanding what it takes to dial in a tasty brew, but from the sheer repetition required, combined with the conditions under which you have to execute.
When the daily rush hits, you repeat your technique countless times while adjusting your equipment to changes in ambient surroundings—even as you hold cheerful conversations with pre-caffeinated customers whose higher neocortical functions have yet to come online. Our daily coffee customers know exactly how they want their drink to taste, and when that morning cuppa is the bright spot in their morning, even small variations in quality can yield big disappointment.
It can also be hard to maintain that all-important consistency when you need to take a break and another barista uses the equipment you dialed in. (You know how it feels when another driver re-adjusts the seat and mirrors in your car?)
There is inevitable variation between baristas and their techniques, and if you’d really like to geek out, check out these tests, conducted in a former life:
Better coffee through science
Needless to say, smart people have been trying to solve the consistency problem for a long time. So, as the coffee business has grown, some brilliant automation has been introduced to the espresso making process. When you stand in front of an espresso machine and grinder, and meticulously measure extraction after extraction hundreds of times, you appreciate that those aforementioned smart people have figured out a way to make your work easier—and your guest’s coffee more consistently delicious.
Sure, when a piece of technology comes along that renders a barista’s hard-earned skills less relevant, they can feel they’ve lost some of that direct connection to the guest’s satisfaction. In reality, it allows us all to make more people happy, more of the time.
And this is why Coffeebar has retired its old equipment and installed the new.
No one needs to introduce the La Marzocco espresso machine. Founded in Florence in 1927, La Marzocco has built a global reputation as a company that only produces the best. Our new machine, the Linea PB, features some of their latest technology, allowing incredibly accurate repetition in espresso.
Setting this beauty apart from their earlier models are scales built into the drip tray, ensuring your espresso extraction stops at the correct beverage weight—time and time again. Not only does this allow for great repeatability, but the barista can change the desired beverage weight in a matter of seconds if they feel the need or are rotating different coffees through the café on a weekly basis.
The Mahlkonig E80 Supreme grinder is a product of the company’s latest R&D into burr geometry, grind particle distribution and flavor, not to mention well-researched aesthetics for a busy café. The user interface is intuitive, adjustments are easy and accessible, coffee static is almost zero, and the grinder is incredibly quick and quiet. This, coupled with the La Marzocco, brings a new level of consistency and speed to our baristas.
Lastly is the Puq Press. The automatic tamper is a device that baristas love to hate. For some reason, removing the act of tamping is one of the hardest concepts to sell to a barista with words. Despite being extremely hard on the wrist, tamping is one element of coffee control that baristas are loathe to surrender. But once you put a Puq Press on the bar for a day of service, no one wants you to take it away.
Our Downtown Truckee location will be the first of our cafes to debut this awesome Barista’s Little Helper, but it will never leave the bench, so long as they’re still making coffee.
So if you notice that your coffee is absolutely spot-on day after day, that your barista has started telling jokes during the morning rush, or that the line is a bit shorter—tip your cup to the newest, mechanized members of our team.