Posted by Snapguide on Jan 05, 2017
Coffee has come a long way since the early days of Starbucks. People are paying more attention to the quality of their coffee over the size of the cup. But with this new wave of coffee taking the nation by storm, it begs a lot of questions. Like, how should your beans be roasted? And, can you actually make an almond milk latte? So we decided to get to the bottom of it and ask some of our favorite coffee roasters in San Francisco, Saint Frank, to help us out with technique. So... how do you pull the perfect shot? And how do baristas make those cool hearts on lattes? We’ve got all answers below. Read up and throw a kettle on because now you can make yourself the perfect cup.
Getting "short" cups and / or off-tasting coffee from your Keurig? Follow these simple steps to clean and descale your brewer.
If you want to make a latte, it’s important to get the foam right. For the best foam possible, use a milk with high protein and fat (this is why whole cow’s milk is a good choice, and almond or soy are not ideal). Before you start steaming, remember: the colder the better. The more time the steam wand can froth the milk when it's cold, the better the foam will be.
You're trying to achieve “microfoam,” or the tiniest air bubbles you can possibly get in foam. You can tell you’ve achieved microfoam when you swirl it and the milk starts to take on a sheen. Once you see that sheen, congratulations. You have a beautifully steamed pitcher of milk. See the guide for exact instructions and a tip for how almond milk steams.
Now. How do you pull the perfect espresso shot? Well it starts with the bean. You’ll want to use a different bean for your taste, but here we used a medium roast which is great for letting the natural flavor of the bean shine through.
The whole time we watched Saint Frank, they were very aware of the amount of coffee they were using. Purchasing a small scale will help home brewing techniques immensely. See the guide for detailed measurements and technique.
We’ve seen baristas make heart after heart but how do they do it? You could say it’s all in the wrist, but there’s more to it than that. You can use gravity to your favor here.
Start with perfectly steamed microfoam and a shot. Tilt your cup to the side, and begin pouring the steamed milk from high above. This will dive the foam underneath the espresso so a layer of beige rests above the foam. When you’re ready to start drawing your design, move the pitcher so that it’s almost resting on top of the coffee. This will lay beautiful white foam on top of the beverage instead of pushing it down to the bottom of the liquid. See the guide for a video and instructions for how to draw a heart and other designs.
Pour-over coffee is something that a brewer will be able to master the easiest from home since the equipment needed is not as bulky or expensive as an espresso machine. The slow extraction rate is also great for achieving a sweeter, more mellow cup of coffee.
This method is all about optimizing water and bean interaction. Grind, water temperature, pouring pressure, and pouring technique; all of these will affect how long the water and beans interact for ideal flavor extraction. One of the best pieces of equipment you can buy for your pour-over coffee game (besides a scale) is a brewer cone with good drainage so you can control exactly how long the water is resting on the beans for. See the guide for more of the how and why.
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Thanks so much to Saint Frank who showed us the delicious ins and outs of coffee! What coffee technique do you want to master?