Coffee/ Latte Art 101

*I am no expert, far from it, so this is mainly intended for those who know very little or close to none about coffee*

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The best of my latte art thus far

Ever since I became a barista, I have so much more respect for other baristas. This job is not easy as it requires patience and determination to achieve a good cup of coffee. When I first started, I was trained extensively in making microfoam. To not waste any milk, my manager provided me with a substitute: a mixture of dishwashing soap and water to practice with. Apparently, its consistency is similar to milk. I found this replacement to be effective, minus the fact that there are obviously more bubbles in this concoction. For two shifts, I did nothing else but this. I was awfully frustrated because if it wasn’t the consistency that was incorrect, it was the temperature. When my ‘dishwashing soap and water’ mixture appeared to be more than satisfactory, my manager finally allowed me to practise with milk. It was much easier to deal with although each trial remained inconsistent.

Frustration inevitably reached its peak and on top of that, I was required to immediately work alone under the circumstance that my manager was booked for days off. At this time, my inability to produce or deliver what was required, accompanied with an increasingly declining confidence left me in panic and chaos: from mixing up orders to creating iced chocolate Americanos (they were supposed to be mochas… don’t even ask).

But those days are now scarce after a lot of practise and a heaven sent ‘How To Latte Art‘ post I found online! It is imperative that you have at least tried to make microfoam otherwise, these words will mean very little.

After reading this article, it has helped me tremendously in understanding my past mistakes. I immediately applied the techniques and knowledge read and just recently, I have become more consistent with my microfoam. However, as briefly mentioned in this article, one does not work with only one kind of milk. As 3.25%, 1% and soy milk all differ in the amount of ‘fats’, the main factor in the composition of microfoam, technique therefore differs for each as well. Thus far, I’ve more or less achieved consistent results when working with 3.25% and 1% milk, leaving me to struggle with soy milk (as pictured above). I’m still due for more practise.

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Proper technique for tamping espresso

Tamping espresso is quite easy. My manager taught me a proper technique: to face sideways and with my arm forming a 90 degree angle with the surface. If that makes sense. It is (I believe) quite obvious that the coffee grounds must be evenly distributed into the portafilter for an ‘even’ taste (minus the fact whether the coffee was dialed in correctly… but that’s another story).

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The baby: La Marzocco ❤

Anyways, I hope you found this post informative and helpful. I just wanted to share my current knowledge and resources on coffee and latte art. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

A plus tard et avec l’amour!

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Music Recommendation of the Week: Dallas Green (City & Colour)

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My fan art

I love music and am awfully excited to share my interest in it, more specifically by suggesting some of my favourite artists and bands. For my first post, I had to save it for a very special and talented man, my favourite artist to this day (and most likely forever), Dallas Green of City and Colour.

Dallas is a Canadian Alternative artist who was a former member of Alexisonfire. I was first exposed to City and Colour about 4 years ago by one of my closest friends, someone who I actually consider as a big brother, Carlo (check his music out!). The very first song I heard was The Girl and I instantly fell in love! Then again, who wouldn’t?

What attracted me most about Dallas Green was his crisp acoustics, unique voice that is perfectly balanced between crystal clear diction and ‘roughness’ and his incredible dynamics, singing effortlessly from low to high notes (or vice versa).

In 2012, Dallas won the Juno Award for Songwriter of The Year, a well-deserved title for his exceptional talent in songwriting. His music is very poetic and addresses daily struggles that are relatable to most people. Listening to his interviews, it is obvious that he is quite the man with soul, wit and is a nonconformist, traits that make him even more respectable in my books.

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Seeing Dallas Green for the first time at X-Fest Calgary 2013!

Last year, I was lucky enough to see him live at X-Fest Calgary! It was one of the best days of my life that I could scarcely fathom how I managed to not have a heart attack from all the excitement! Seeing artists perform live is quite a different experience from solely listening to them through audio files. Some sound better live or sadly, worst. If my knowledge does not fail me, I believe Dallas Green aims to record his music to have minimal ‘editing’, which makes him even more admirable as he sounds almost identical in recording and live. I do however, prefer live music for most artists.

I could talk endlessly about Dallas Green but I believe this is more than sufficient for sharing. I hope this convinces you enough to take a listen and eventually fall in love, as I have. Dallas Green has put me in a trance ❤


Favourite songs and lines:

1) Sleeping Sickness – “Like the sea, I’m constantly changing from calm to ill.”

2) Hello, I’m in Delaware – “I will see you again a long time from now.”

3) Of Space and Time – “There’s an elephant in the back of the room,
And it’s standing in plain view,
Everyone can see,
That it looks just like me.”

4) The Girl – “When you cry a piece of my heart dies
Knowing that I may have been the cause.”

5) Little Hell – “There’s a degree of difficulty in dealing with me
From my haunted past comes a daunting task of living through memories.”

6) Like Knives – “And I will blame myself
For holding on to what I hoped would keep you by my side.”

7) Save Your Scissors – “So save your scissors
For someone else’s skin
My surface is so tough
I don’t think the blade will dig in.”

Website: http://cityandcolour.com/

Hope you like this new segment! Come back in a week for the next recommendation!

A plus tard et avec l’amour!

My Life as a Barista!

Since the 9th grade, I looked for a job every summer to finance my own expenses (all right, desires). However, I’ve always found my past jobs boring and uninteresting until now. Since the end of May, I’ve been working as a barista in a local shop here in NW Calgary called Postino. I absolutely adore this job! I get to interact with regular customers, meet the occasional eye-candy (ehmm Australian backpacker) and have fun with it!

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Pretending to be busy 😛

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“Was that to stay or to go?”

Starting out without prior experience as a barista was not easy. I cannot tell you how much frustration I had to go through, especially with trying to get the perfect microfoam. Believe it or not, it’s been months and I am still working on trying to remain consistent with my methods. Though in the end, it’s all worth it when I see even the simplest latte art of its kind, the heart. I will be writing a post on Coffee/ Latte Art 101 so stay tuned for that!

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Tamping espresso

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Latte art is difficult and requires concentration

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“I can do it!”

I have always been a fan of coffee though this only intensified when I became a barista. My knowledge has improved tremendously and so has my ego in terms of coffee. Visiting another coffee shop with me would probably not be in your best interest because I have become very watchful and judgmental of everything: from the sound of the milk frothing to tampering techniques of the barista. You could say that I could probably guess the taste of the coffee prior to even having my tongue touch it. Also, be prepared to be bombarded with random coffee facts and techniques.

As well, I can no longer drink instant coffee nor brew coffee, unless absolutely necessary. Fresh espresso tastes so much better so an Americano, I am now aware, differs from brew. And that folks is why it’s more expensive.

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Coffee ❤

 I hoped you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoy my job! I love being artistic with what I do and I get free coffee doing it too 😉

A plus tard et avec l’amour!