Barista blog #001 — June 2016
The common notion of a barista is someone who serves coffee all day, all the while day-dreaming about their next entrepreneurial endeavour, university studies, quirky hobby or upcoming interview for for a “real job”.
There may be some amount of truth to that idea, but that doesn’t mean that baristas don’t have a passion for all things coffee and what they do.
My own journey into the coffee world came from being disillusioned with the path I was heading down about a year ago. I’d just finished up my university studies with a degree in mechanical engineering, and had received an offer for a graduate job in the company in which I’d completed my one-year work placement, 12 months prior. It was a good offer; a comfortable salary, pension scheme, half-day Fridays and all the rest, but I just couldn’t see myself working in an office, on the computer all day. Not that there is anything wrong with that obviously, it just wasn’t for me. I also had no interest in becoming an engineer. Unlike some of my former classmates, I was never one for taking engines apart in my spare time, or reading up on the latest progressions in aircraft technology.
I didn’t really know what my career focus would be going forward, I just knew it wasn’t in the path where I was expected to go down.
All I knew was that I spent half my time in university sitting in trendy coffee shops, researching all things health and fitness related, and reading books about mindset and business. The common thread of these books seemed to be to follow the things you are interested in and passionate about.
So I began to write a nutrition and mindset based blog under the name ‘Know Yourself Nutrition’, pumping out content on what I thought would be helpful to people trying to get into shape or become healthier. I’ve continued with this and have built up a following on my social media sites, authoring a couple of nutrition ebooks in the process. I’m currently part of the Bodytype Nutrition Academy which will eventually provide me with the necessary accreditation to become a nutrition coach, which has become my career focus in the medium/long-term.
However in the meantime of building this as a profitable business, I knew I needed a method of paying the rent! I decided this had to be something that was at least loosely related to my career goals, and something that I could enjoy!
The closest thing I could think of was a coffee shop with healthy food, with a small enough business model that would allow me to get some insight into the business end of things. I sent an email off to Orla in Kaffe O, entailing basically the above information asking if I could somehow become part of the team. There were no jobs going in the shop at the time, but I guess my email had impressed her enough to ask me to come meet her anyway. We got talking and we decided I’d do a few trial shifts in the kitchen, on food service and on the coffee. I think I was a bit of a disaster on the other two, but I seemed to be alright on the coffee. So began an obsession.
I’d decided from the start that although this job wasn’t going to be my long-term career, I would do everything I could to provide value, whether this was going the extra bit to time the espresso shots and adjust the grinder each morning and throughout the day, or taking on responsibility for some of the social media marketing. There’s a phrase that says “How you do one thing, is how you do everything.” I believe that if you start to take the lazy option with small things, it tunes your mindset into doing this on a regular basis, and even the most important tasks become tinged with a hint of laziness. So everything I do, I try to do to the best of my ability. I’ve managed to work my way up to head barista, which entails maintaining the high standards of coffee in the shop as well as some others jobs like tracking inventory, training new employees etc.
I know it probably seems silly to a lot of people, but there’s a lot more goes into your cup of coffee behind the scenes than you probably think. The coffee beans will be grown by someone who likely dedicates their life to farming coffee beans. The roaster in our case, is obsessed with the intricacies roasting coffee, and when we receive the roasted coffee, we spend time, fine-tuning the grinding and brewing process to make sure its on-point.
Hence, this is the start of my monthly blog. As head barista, I will be writing monthly installments entailing the latest advancements and happenings in the coffee side of Kaffe O.
The main focus this month, from a coffee point of view, has been our de-caff. Our focus has always been on delivering amazing cup of coffee, with our house blend of Ethiopian, Costa Rican and Guatemalan beans, from Copenhagen-based master roaster, Rico Sorenson. Our de-caff comes from a different supplier as de-caffinated coffee isn’t very popular in Denmark,and in all honesty, we’ve never been completely satisfied with it. With that said, it was obviously 100x better than the instant stuff that’s sitting in your cupboard at home, but it wasn’t up to our standards. So we had to do something about it.
It began by contacting a local guy who knew our struggles with de-caff and our on-going search for something we could be proud of. He also happens to be a coffee-geek and coffee supplier. Win-win. On tasting three de-caff samples, we decided that one stood out as a clear winner. On further research, we discovered that this tasty coffee was ‘decaffeinated’ using a process called Swiss-water processing (S.W.P.).
S.W.P eliminates the usual problem with de-caffeinated coffee, the usage of potentially harmful chemicals. Instead, the green beans are submersed in water to remove the caffeine. So it tastes better and may also be potentially healthier. It was an obvious choice for us, and we’ve now switched over to using this product as our de-caff.
We attended St. George’s twilight market recently. This was a great chance to get out and into a different surrounding and show even more people what we’re all about. We were glad to see some familiar faces there with plenty of our regulars in attendance. We also enjoyed engaging with people who hadn’t been in the shops before but have since visited after enjoying our coffee and treats at the market! There was also some first-class bartering to be had among fellow traders!
With the recent spell of amazing weather, we’ve noticed a huge hike in the sales of iced coffee. Our double espresso, milk, ice and vanilla blended concoction has really been a hit for people chilling in the sunny park, not to mention people coming in for some shade to cool down. This has been a common thread for all our other cold drinks also, with our fresh fruit juices and smoothies also being a summer favourite.
With this increase in demand for cold drinks, we’ve been working on creating a summer range of products and event which we’ve called Hej Sommer. (No prizes for guessing the English translation!)
First up is our “espresso tonic”: Iced tonic water with a double espresso. We’ve been tasting and we’re almost ready to release it to you! At first, admittedly, the taste took me by surprise, but when I’d taken a few sips, I realised this would be the perfect, refreshing drink for coffee lovers on a summer’s day and especiialy those who aren’t so keen on dairy! Keep an eye out on our social media sites for this going live!
We also have another surprise; ice-cream! With an ever-changing variety of flavours, this premium hand-made product will be unique and a perfect addition to our Hey Sommer range. We’re launching it with two delicious flavours; Mango and peanut butter. They’re made with coconut milk, and are therefore vegan. You can also add an assortment of fruit and nuts on too! Banana and nuts on peanut butter ice-cream… Come get some!
Home Brewing — What I’ve Been Brewing This Month
My brother took home a sample of a coffee that a friend gave him, which was roasted by ‘The Roasting Shed’ in London. He recommended I go get some, so I did, and I’ve really been loving it.
Kaffe O’s coffee is quite a dark roast, so its rich, with chocolatey notes and smokiness, which I love. However, when I’m brewing coffee at home, I like to have something a little bit different, and usually opt lighter roasted, sweet, fruity types of coffee, such as this one, from Ethiopia. I brewed it using an aeropress in inverted set-up. My recipe was as follows: 15g of coffee ground using my hand grinder. 85degree water. First filled up to the number 3 on the aeropress, stirred and left to bloom for 30 seconds. Filled the rest of the way up, stirred again and left for a further 2 minutes. Turned it over and plunged for 30 seconds.
I made a video also, here it is…
We look forward to seeing you soon in-store! I’ll be writing again next month with more updates on what’s going on!
We always enjoy hearing your feedback so let us know in-store or online if you’ve read and enjoyed this!
Ps. Here’s the links to my other stuff