Thursday, August 02, 2012

Caffeine-filled Sunday

So I managed to score two invites to attend a coffee workshop organized by Università del Caffé della Malesia in Phileo Damansara. Many thanks to @TimeoutKL for this opportunity! Since I had won two passes, I invited Jaslyn to join me for this workshop. Ended up me being rather late (it was raining that morning) and getting somewhat lost in Phileo cause I couldn't figure out where the place was exactly! Took me three calls to Jas to find out where exactly! Hahaha ^^;

Live Happily with Illy Coffee; I chose Americano to start my day since milk would simply make me dash to the loo in agony!

The workshop lasted for roughly 2 hours (from 10am until 12pm) and it was conducted by Evelyn, Hugo, and Eric. The main topic of the day? How to brew that perfect cup of Espresso! :D

The first topic was on coffee beans - namely Arabica and Robusta. Evelyn explained that these two types of beans are the most popular roasts that is used widely everywhere. The main difference? Arabica has an intense, rounded aroma if compared to robusta, which has a distinctly weaker aroma. Oddly enough, robusta has a higher percentage of caffeine (roughly 1.8-3.5% caffeine), which is why this bean is used in a blend of various coffee beans.

Evelyn explaining the differences between Arabica beans and Robusta beans.

Robusta beans - has a distinct, almost straight furrow (in the middle of the bean that is), with a rather rounded form

Arabica beans - has a slight S-shaped furrow and an elongated shape
So what makes a good cup of espresso? Evelyn explained that while good coffee beans factors in the cuppa coffee, it takes skills and expertise to brew that excellent cup of murky goodness! Hence, 50% skill, 50% quality beans & machine used. Makes sense? :)

She touched lightly on the strength of caffeine in coffee too. What fascinated me the most was when she explained why local coffee (the ones you order from that local mamak stall near you) has a higher percentage and intensity of caffeine if compared to, say Starbucks for example. According to her, that said local coffee, when brewed for a very long time (have you ever seen that long filter 'stocking' soaked in a tin jug?) most of the caffeine and taste would eventually retain in the hot water. Caffeine is water soluble so obviously, it's transferred from the grounded coffee beans and into the water. Hence the thickness of the coffee itself. Pretty cool info, since I do love drinking a cuppa Kopi Ais first thing in the morning!

Eric, the junior barista, then took over, and explained further about brewing a perfect cup of espresso. He explained the basics of foaming and heating up the milk just at the right temperature for a relaxing cup of coffee latte.

So what does 'expresso' mean? Erik explained that there are three definitions to it:

  • prepared on express order
  • brewed by a specific method called percolation - using high water pressure besides temperature
  • coffee is extracted rapidly, which admits into the cup - just the best part of the soluble material

Fun fact:Did you know that the thick layer of foam formed in a cup of espresso, which is usually opaque, is actually due to a dispersed phase of very small oil droplets in emulsion? In other words, that coffee oil for you! Perfectly harmless and tasteless, but there you have it!

Milk preparation was rather tricky to me, even when he was explaining it further. To keep it short, the milk needs to first be foamed and then tilted at a 45 degree angle, in a circular motion until the milk is heated up properly (you should be able to touch the jug for a few seconds before quickly withdrawing it back)

Next session was with Hugo, which was highly anticipated by everyone! Why, you ask?

His session was the physical aspect of this workshop: brewing and sampling cups of espresso, latte, and of course, the highlight of the whole workshop - latte art! :D

*grinds coffee beans*
So first thing Hugo did was to brew several different shots of espresso. The perfect cup would have a balanced taste of bitterness and sourness. Too thick, and the whole deal will be extremely bitter. Too dilute,  and it'll be rather sourish. However if there's too much water and too little coffee beans, you'll basically have a cup of colored water.
The taste experiment: Robusta vs Arabica

We sampled various coffee 'styles' ranging from too thick to coffee made using a machine that wasn't cleaned properly after use.

Jaslyn's reaction to sampling some bitter coffee XD

Hugo further explains about the steam nozzle, used to foam and heat up the milk

And now, to the main star of the workshop, coffee art! We were taught two simple coffee art techniques: The Leaf and The Heart.

Of course, we were all asked to try making cups of coffee for ourselves from scratch! I took the 'espresso' bit while Jaslyn manned the milk station. I floundered and botched up the machine, sadly! I wasn't quick enough to place two cups below the nozzle just as the coffee began brewing :(

Hugo showing off his awesome skills in coffee art!

My cup of latte - The Leaf (I had help on this!) XD

The proud owner of the "heart" coffee :D

Coffee tools for the home! I drooled looking at these awesome equipment! D:

Clockwise from top left: The tulip, some wiggly drawing, ripple art, Snoopym, Taj Mahal, rippled "X", koala bear, and a really maternal-looking elephant :D
With that session, our workshop came to an end! Sad to say most of the coffee went unfinished ^^; I daren't finish the latte since I'm lactose-intolerant :'(

A group photo with Evelyn, Hugo and Erik (the guy in black) with all the participants of the day!
Photo credits to Jaslyn, cause my camera decided to die out by then ;_;
Happy to say that I left that place with an increase of coffee knowledge now! Makes me want to attend a barista course some day for the heck of it too! xD


CandyliciousCat said...

Oooh you so rajin edit your photos! I fail as a blogger OTL

Silvennia Silsendrea said...

Hahaha I'm considered lazy liao lorrrr these are only fast edits XD;

I'm too lazy to add in my own watermark nowadays ;_;