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Your Machine is Finally on The bench. What Now?

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You have researched for an espresso machine and a grinder over 9 months now. After all, this quality equipment business is a serious investment and the pain of the last big investment that came with regret still lingers..

So with drive and passion for good coffee, you are set in your mind not to repeat the same mistake again and to take a knowledgeable decision this time. You rang few vendors to hear their opinions, used an online evaluation tool, read few guides, browsed endless coffee forums posts and opinions, you might have even visited a showroom or two to see and taste coffee from your shortlisted.

This has been the longest you have ever researched for a new appliance, longer than what it took to buy the new car last year. And so the time has come to start enjoying it after all that decision making hard labour.

The day has arrived, and you've picked up the chosen combo. You've skipped the free training offered by the vendors, as you were thinking: 'how hard can it really be?' Thinking of all the You Tube videos you've watched, and the countless cups you saw your local barista make, 'this is going to be a walk in the park' you're thinking.

The machine and grinder are unpacked, placed on the kitchen bench, you are all excited, filling up the water tank, plugging in both appliances and turning on your coffee machine for the very first time.

You were told this can take 25 minutes as the boiler needs to heat up to the right temperature for coffee, but you really can't wait any longer and you reach a hand to grab the portafilter...

WAIT! I want you to STOP. Just for a second. As I need to share something really important with you:

Did you know that commercial baristas learn the art of coffee making MONTHS before they are allowed to serve coffee to their customers?

Did you know that the same velvety and balanced espresso with a thick crema and a lingering aftertaste is a result of a long guided practice?

Are you aware that a Cafe style home coffee relies as much on a skilled hand as it is on the gear's technology and the type of beans you put in the hopper?

Making a (good) Cafe style quality coffee at home isn't a skill we were all born with. So how do you expect to work yourself around it and achieve the same results as your favourite barista the very first time you lock your portafilter in?

Oh, ok, I hear you. You say you'll just give it a go and see what happens, right?

This might work. But you may also find yourself building up frustration as you don't seem to be able to get the same quality coffee you wanted, and that's after investing major cash in what is supposed to be the latest and best equipment for home.You're also trying some beans that were included free with your machine, and are supposed to be fresh, specialty coffee. So that should do the job, isn't it? Maybe the machine you were sold to is a lemon??

Well the truth is, no matter how resistant we are to learn new things and admit our human nature to be the weaker link in mastering a new skill, it is often our mind set that keeps us away from the desirable outcome. And this is something we see in Di Bartoli Coffee again, and again, for the last 15 years, working with over 12,000 home baristas. The learning seem to be the one thing that is compromised first but we still expect a professional coffee from the spout, how bizarre.

Changing how we look at Home coffee and adjusting our expectations can help us pacing our learning, achieve good and steady progress and save us hours of trial and error, beans wastage, and painful regrets.

So if this resonate with you, if you recently purchased a new machine and about to 'give it a go ' with no prior training, here are some tips for you to save you some pain:

Be patient, take your time

Your new toy is there to stay for many years. Give yourself some time to tune in, experiment slowly, follow a sequence, apply adjustments, experiment some more. You will find yourself going through the various stages many Home Baristas have walked before you. Don't put any pressure on yourself, let the natural flow of your experimentation guide you.

Be ready to embrace change

Flavours will change daily, your palate will evolve with time, beans will go stale with age and the relationship you  develop with your own coffee making routine will be constantly adjusted. You may experience all or some of those milestones:

  • Mastering consistency and learning espresso basics
  • Fine tuning your milk texture
  • Fast and slow pour and how it alters flavour
  • Blends Vs Single Origin, Light Vs Espresso Roast, Natural Vs Washed Process - all impact the cup
  • Coffee presentation
  • Advanced dosing & distribution techniques, working with naked handle, Ristretto vs. Espresso, weighing your coffee and extraction ratios
  • Recognizing wide range of coffee aromas, flavours and tactile experiences

Your coffee is only as good as your routine. Be mindful

Like anything else we do well at if we put our mind to it, coffee is of no exception. Some of you will know too well the pale crema and the thin body your coffee had this morning as you rushed through the door. You may believe your routine hasn't changed but rushing your coffee making will lead to cutting corners and may compromise quality. Pay attention to your dose, distribution, tamping and particle size. Do it exactly the same way each time. Your taste buds will thank you.

It's ok to move from divinity to a flop in one day

Coffee is an organic produce. Its extremely perishable, it's hydrophobic and will change its density and moisture level several times a day, subject to the room temperature, direct sunlight, humidity, and oxygen exposure.

I'll let you in on a secret that every barista knows: no matter how zealous or scientific our quest for the 'god shot' holy grail is, coffee will always hold surprises for us. We can leave nothing to variation yet coffee will taste different from one shot to the other. Some say its unpredictability is frustrating. I find it fascinating and humbling. Try not to fight it, acknowledge it and be ok with that, you may open your buds to an entire new level of flavours you didn't even know exist.

You are an important link in the specialty coffee supply chain

A little reminder to help us respect and love working with coffee so we end up seeing the beauty and the potential rather than the hard work and inconsistencies:

Traditionally the barista is the one making the coffee for the consumer, yet a home barista is both the maker and the consumer. With that comes a responsibility in delivering the optimum flavour profile, as engineered by by the roaster, the green beans broker, the export company, the Co-op and the farmer. Unlocking the true potential of specialty beans in your hopper is our commitment to the entire specialty coffee chain and a recognition of each link's contribution to that extraordinary sensory experience.

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Now you can grab this portafilter...you can also book that One on one training at the Rosebery Coffee Hub to unlock all the secrets to great coffee. If you live outside Sydney and purchased a machine from us, you are eligible for FREE Step-By-Step guide over the phone which you can book here.

We'd love to partner up with you in your journey!