Y & I attended Detour’s Coffee’s Latte Art 101 class two days ago. Their website information is slightly outdated. The new class format is 1.5 hours instead of 2.5 hours, and cost is $50/person instead of the original $100/person. That is much more affordable than the Canadian Barista Academy’s consumer home barista class, which is $150 for a 2.5 hour class. Our class started at 6.30pm and was supposed to go till 8pm, but us keen students had so many questions so the class only concluded at 9.30pm! Whoops.
Despite having four people in our class instead of the original limit of three on Detour’s site, there were no issues with insufficient time to practice. On the other hand, I thought four was perfect given the two steam wands available. The intimate class also resulted in a very interactive session.
Each person also gets to bring home one bag of their choice of coffee.
It was a beautiful day to drive out to Detour’s Dundas location, which is approximately an hour from where I live.
We were greeted by Momiji Kishi, our instructor of the night. She had been named one of the best baristas in this area and even Canada-wide! Momiji Sensei was also the champion of the 2010 Central Regional Barista Competition held in Toronto. Imagine my excitement!! FYI – Momiji translates to Maple in Japanese. We were both amused.
The class started off with some light theory regarding how to steam milk, which included the proper use of the espresso machine steam wand. We had to purge the steam wands before use to prevent condensation built-up from entering our fresh milk, and purge it again after to prevent leftover milk from being sucked into the wand. That is why baristas always turn on the steam wand and make that “tssss tssss” sound before working on the cup of milk. I always thought it sounded like choo-choo trains.
Next, we spent some time just steaming water and getting used to the steam wand. It was quite a learning curve as the metal jug gets hot really quickly (<15 seconds). By the time your brain registers that the jug is too hot, it is too late so I scalded myself a couple of time. We were also constantly reminded by Sensei to purge the wand, which is a crucial step especially when we start steaming milk, or… soap.
We spent a great deal of time practicing with soap. By learning the proper technique of steaming with soap, it really minimizes unnecessary milk wastage. Whew, I was getting nervous just at the thought of steaming milk and screwing up! We poured our steamed soap into glasses to compare the foam. I did not inject sufficient air into my soap solution so my “steamed soap” (3rd glass) was little compared to the others although we all started with the same amount of water. Great learning experience!
Before we got started on the milk, Sensei demonstrated what good versus bad steamed milk.
Check out the difference between the perfect cup of steamed milk and the over-steamed! One is harmoniously mixed and the other is overly glossy/poofy.
The surface was so perfect! A NYC barista once told me that a good cup of cappuccino should feel like you are drinking a cloud.
Then it was time to get some espresso going.
Momiji Sensei’s effortless cup. She did this while casually chatting and explaining the process to us.
Dun dun dun… I was literally trembling when it was my turn to pour the art. It was the moment of truth.
First, you inject air into the milk – about 3 seconds with large gurgling noises – then steam it in a circular motion until the metal jug gets comfortably hot. Then, tap it a couple of times to get rid of big bubbles and spin the jug, then pour!
My first cup – don’t judge!!
Heh heh heh.
My second and third cup. I call the one on the right
failure a flaming heart.
For my last cup, I was drunk on espresso and just decided to mush a mini heart and Rosetta together into an utterly confused cup.
Imagine the amount of coffee I had in the next hour! Fortunately for me, I do not react to caffeine. The downside to that is that I have never experienced the immediate energy boost after a morning cuppa joe.
To conclude our exhilarating class, Momiji Sensei did a quick demonstration on under/over extraction of a shot of espresso.
Three cups from the same shot. The first one was utterly disgusting (too sour), the last one was not that pleasant either. The take-away lesson is that a single shot of espresso needs to have all three components to provide for a balanced taste. Extremity is not good, omission of any component is not good either. That is totally a life lesson!
As Sensei puts it -coffee is like wine, but espresso is like whiskey. It takes a while to learn the beauty of it; but once you do,
your life will be ruined you will become a coffee snob you will never be the same again.
Thank you Detour for such a fun and informative class! Y & I really enjoyed it.
Central Regional Barista Competition 2013
July 16-17 at The Hart House, Toronto ON
The Coffee Fest Chicago 2013 Latte Art World Championship just concluded about a week ago. A Japanese barista, Junichi Yamaguchi, whom I have been following for a while now clinched second! Congratulations!
Some of his usual latte art –
Unbelievable. I can’t wait to visit his cafe during my Japanese vacation in the fall!