I worked on a coffee shop magazine once upon a time. There is one thing that struck me when I was interviewing an owner of an Italian coffee-shop-cum-bar in Soho once.
You only need four, that’s right, four, different coffees to perfect your offering.
That kind of thing wasn’t seen often on menus in other coffee shops I visited. You had a different version of this, a more complex version of that, a hand-brewed filter from Nicaragua, yada yada yada.
Get your coffee offering right
It got me thinking about how a garden centre can simplify their coffee offering. All whilst keeping the vast majority of customers happy.
These are the four the coffee shop owner in Soho told me:
An espresso is the base of each coffee on this list. Intense, creamy and impactful, you won’t get many ordering an espresso. For the purposes of this article, an Americano falls under this banner (it’s an espresso poured into a cup of hot water, right?)
To get the perfect espresso:
· Measure a dose of perfect-ground coffee into your coffee basket.
· Apply a lot of pressure to the top of the coffee with a tamper, creating a compacted puck.
· Watch the shot as it’s poured to keep an eye on the quality.
· One the desired timings have been hit, pull the espresso away.
It’s very important to create a tight, evenly distributed puck before forcing water at pressure through it. Water, like many other natural elements, takes the path of least resistance. If it finds a channel at minimal effort through the coffee, the shot will not extract the coffee correctly, resulting in a sub-par drink.
Being Italian, this was bound to be on the list. But, he’s not wrong. One of the most recognisable coffees on offer, a cappuccino dusted with chocolate, is seen as a little bit of luxury for many.
For a cappuccino at its best:
· Pour cold milk into a metal steaming pitcher, about a third full.
· Release steam from the steaming wand for two seconds to get rid of any residual water.
· Dip the tip of the steaming wand into milk and start the jet. As the foam rises and the volume of milk increases, lower the pitcher, always keeping the tip submerged and tilted to create a vortex.
· Continue steaming until the milk reaches 65 degrees and its volume doubles.
· Tap the base of the pitcher on the countertop to compress the foam.
· Prepare an espresso in a large cup (a cappuccino cup).
· Pour the foamed milk directly into the cup, first aiming for the centre, then continuing in a circular motion out toward the rim.
You only need to offer one of these because, as the McDonald’s coffee advert says, a flat white is like a strong latte with less milk.
In the case of a garden centre, I’d stick with a latte. It’s many people’s go-to coffee order.
To make a perfect latte:
· Prepare an espresso (single or double) into a latte glass.
· 1/3 fill your milk jug with whole milk.
· Purge your steam arm before attempting to steaming your milk.
· Foam your milk before brewing your espresso, paying attention to creating a nice smooth micro foam.
· After foaming/frothing your milk, tap the jug or bump on a table to remove any unwanted large air bubbles.
· Begin pouring the frothed milk to your espresso from a high position.
· Continue to pour whilst lowering the milk and steepening your pouring angle.
· Ensure a small amount of stiff milk foam sits on top after pouring.
A little left field, but a mocha is a must on your coffee menu. It makes sense anyway – you are offering coffee and you have a hot chocolate option, so it’s no extra ordering in for you. It’s also a piece of cake to make.
A mocha is another slice of luxury, and most mocha drinkers see it as their daily or weekly treat.
To get the perfect mocha:
· Brew an espresso into a mug, cup or glass.
· Add two teaspoons of hot chocolate mix or cocoa powder and mix with the espresso.
· Foam and texture the required quantity of milk, ensuring we have a good quality foam.
· Add the milk to the cup containing the chocolate espresso and top with whipped cream.
· Dust with more cocoa powder before serving.