Espresso is an art
Honestly, it’s pretty sad what little regard is given to coffee in some restaurants.
Coffee deserves so much more as it’s a daily routine for many of us. Like most things in life, if you want it to be great, it’s going to take some extra effort. And some restaurants give coffee little respect, usually just tearing open a pre-measured packet of ground coffee, dumping it into the coffee basket of a large machine, then pressing a button.
Coffee should deliver so much more. First of all, if you’re using coffee that has already been ground, you’re missing out on over 80% of the potential. Once air hits ground coffee, it has only a very short lifespan, about 45 minutes, before its lost the magic. So, at the very least, you must start with whole beans and grind them just before brewing. What is at the grocery store? 99% of it is already ground, and don’t kid yourself if it’s ‘Vacume Sealed’. Air has already been there.
It seems that coffee has gone the routine of most American Fast Food with very, very little quality in what you’re eating, and generally very little true flavor. America has become accustomed to poor quality and poor taste, and now usually doesn't even know the difference. Very Sad!
Green coffee beans can last many months, even years without very much loss of potential. Green Coffee beans have sometimes been used as a commodity to store value, like silver or gold. But, once the beans have been roasted, the lifespan is greatly shortened.
1. Source a great coffee bean, from Columbia, Mexico, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sumatra, New Guinea or other high quality coffee bean producing areas. The beans must be of very uniform size and the roast must be very consistent in color, like these beans.
2. Develop a relationship with a Coffee Roaster who will help source the beans and has the equipment to properly roast the beans evenly.
3. Once Coffee Beans are roasted, they need to gas for several days, allowing the CO2 to escape. Special one-way bags have been developed to allow this gas to escape. It works perfectly for Cafe Heavenly because we selected a coffee company in Washington state to do our roasting. They are Coffee Masters and themselves own several Espresso Shops in the Seattle and Vancouver, Washington, areas known for high quality coffee. Once they roast our coffee and package it in the one-way bags, they air freight the beans to us with 2-Day Priority shipping, arriving to us in perfect form having gassed during the 2 day travel period.
4. Once we receive the beans, we immediately freeze the beans, and each day only take out what we’ll use for a 4 hour period of time. Yes, freezing is perfectly acceptable, even preferred, because it stops oxygen from damaging the beans. Beans thaw out in less than 5 minutes. A little story when I was first researching coffee was that a very professional Coffee Master had placed some coffee beans at his mother’s house in her freezer, then forgot about them. Ten years later, his mother called and asked him what he wanted to do with those beans. When he picked them up and made some coffee with them, he said, “You know, they were pretty good.” But added that he didn't recommend freezing more than 6 months!!
5. At Cafe Heavenly, we grind the beans just before we brew, thus capturing the full potential of the beans. This is even more important for Espresso and is why almost all quality Espresso Bars will grind the exact portion of beans for each Espresso made.
6. Coffee Equipment is very important. And the quality of the coffee equipment is very important. Yes, you can go into that local kitchen houseware store and find an Espresso machine for cheap dollars, $100 or less. Don’t kid yourself. It won’t produce high quality espresso for several reasons. First, Espresso requires extreme precision grinding and the water and pressure must also be exact. It must be very consistent. A cheap machine, if it comes with a built-in grinder won’t be of sufficient quality. And after a month of use will produce poor quality coffee as the burrs will dull. And those ‘Spice Grinders’ are totally worthless for coffee grinding. Totally. Our coffee grinder at Cafe Heavenly alone costs over $2,500, and it’s worth every penny.
7. Our Espresso machine and other coffee equipment are also very costly, but it is needed for perfect coffee and espresso. A critical factor is constant water temperatures through the entire coffee brewing cycle. Water quality is also key, and must have massive filters to insure the correct ph. Our premium La Marzocco Espresso machine costs $18,000 and even the water filter system for just the Espresso machine costs $2,000, but that’s what it takes for great coffee delivered consistently time after time. There are no short cuts at Cafe Heavenly.
8. Coffee and Espresso training are critical. It irks me to see an Espresso shop that doesn't take the needed time to prepare an Espresso shot. Once the precise Espresso grounds are placed in the Espresso Portafilter, a little extra effort is needed to ‘groom’ the grounds to make sure the grinds are equally spaced in the Portafilter. If not, the water will take the course of least resistance and not uniformly extract the coffee grounds. The grounds should then be evenly pressed into the Portafilter, using about 30 lb of pressure. It takes a little skill to determine the correct pressure, but through experience, we know what is required. We then use the automatic water portion of the Espresso machine to inject the exact amount of water needed for the exact number of seconds. All this is needed for that perfect Espresso! We would’t do it any other way at Cafe Heavenly.
You can now understand that Great Coffee and Espresso requires much more than dumping in pre-ground coffee!
Come enjoy the difference at Cafe Heavenly, maybe even an Affogato of Espresso over Vanilla Gelato!