Ever wondered what the barista is thinking when you blag your way through the tasting notes in a speciality coffee shop? We asked Ben Statton of Liberty Coffee in Launceston what he really wishes you knew …
What a flat white is
With roots in Australia or New Zealand (depending on who you talk to), a flat white consists of a double shot, topped with lightly steamed milk and served in a 6oz cup. The point is you can taste the coffee through the milk. These days the drink seems to have been bastardised by the chains; some people think it just means a white coffee or that there is such thing as a “large” flat white.
We don’t use stencils
Latte art is the finishing touch to a well-made coffee. Yes, it looks good on Instagram and no, it doesn’t make any difference to the taste of your coffee but it does take a lot of practice to achieve consistent symmetrical patterns. After your barista has made thousands of drinks and can finally nail that seven leaf tulip, make sure you appreciate the skill and experience going into your cup.
Your coffee isn’t cold
We train our baristas to intentionally steam milk to 65-70°c, which is the point where peak sweetness is achieved. It isn’t necessarily an error on the barista’s part if your coffee seems lukewarm. Drinks are served to be tasted immediately and your barista will always make your drink hotter if you ask.
What we mean by filter coffee
The filter coffee in speciality shops has not been sitting around in a pot all day, nor does it pair well with cream. Good filter coffee is a lot more precise, technical and, most importantly, tasty. Decent bulk brew offerings or single origin drip filters are lighter in nature, crisp and often wonderfully complex.
Don’t be intimidated by the tasting notes
We don’t expect you to be able to pick up every single flavour note in the coffee; flavour is subjective after all. Once you get past the fact that these are descriptors rather than artificial flavourings, you can use them as a guide to help you choose the best coffee for you.
Beards and sleeve tattoos …
… don’t make a better barista. While the rise of speciality coffee shops has introduced a world of flavour opportunities, it has been accompanied by some inevitable stereotypes. The best baristas will tailor their knowledge to make you a cup of coffee that you’ll enjoy. Flexibility is the key to providing great hospitality in the coffee industry.