Saturday, December 25, 2010

Lesson 16: Espresso Based Coffee Drinks

Hello everyone! Welcome back to Free Online Bartending School. A nice little way to learn more about bartending on the web.

Today's lesson is going to be on how to make coffee. And not just any coffee, but the coffee you find at Starbucks - cappuccino, latte, mocha, and caramel macchiato.

As a bartender, you may have situations where you'll also be a barista. Barista is a coffee version of a bartender. When working at upscale hotel bars, or if you work during the day shift, some of your customers will ask you to make a coffee based drink. And as a professional bartender, you will have to make them a quality coffee drink.

So let's go over how to make espresso based coffee drinks. Coffee drinks are a little easier compared to a cocktail since you really only have two main ingredients. Coffee (espresso) and milk. Simple as that. The biggest issues when making an espresso based coffee drinks are two fold.
  1. Pulling the espresso shot well
  2. Frothing the milk well
If you're able to do those two well, then you're off to a great start making an awesome coffee drink.

Let's go over how to do those two agenda items then.

Pulling the espresso shot well

Thankfully or not, in recent days, pulling an espresso may only be a push of a button. A lot of the high end machines that you may find at your work will be fully automated making the process of pulling an espresso relatively easy. You push a button, and the machine does everything for you. If you're not pulling a good espresso, all it may take is calibrating the machine a bit.

If the bar you work at does not have an automated machine, you may need to pull your own espresso. There are some art and science when it comes to pulling an espresso. I think its best shown using a video, so here's a few that I found which shows you how to pull an espresso like a pro.

Espresso Science - Part 2

(I wasn't able to embed these videos, so please check out the YouTube video directly.)

Be sure to understand these methods, and practice it a few times at your work. You will want to be able to make a quality espresso as a bartender. A customer who will order an espresso from you will be impressed if you can make an espresso with a nice crema and perfect taste. It's never pleasant to serve a customer an espresso that lacks crema and is too bitter or too light.

Also, keep in mind that a good espresso will be the base of any coffee drink. Though it will get diluted with milk, it's always nice to be able to pull a good espresso to make an awesome coffee drink.

Frothing (Steam) the Milk

Being able to froth the milk properly is another skill you must possess as a bartender. When you froth milk, the two thing you look for are: proper temperature and the quality of the foam. The temperature should be between 140-155 Fahrenheit. The foam should be of quality so that it is smooth and velvety.

Just remember when you had that nice cup of cappuccino. It probably wasn't too hot, and the foam was silky and velvety. With the right amount of sugar to your liking, the experience should have been very pleasant. That is the kind of cappuccino you want to be able to serve to your customers.

Foaming the milk also has its art and science behind it. The temperature can't get too hot since that will scold the milk, and make it taste bad. Milk scolds at 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Foaming is easiest with no fat milk, and it gets harder as you go up in fat content. The reason behind it is that the fat in the milk will make it harder on you to get it foamed up. It's much easier to foam up water than fat. It does however taste better when the milk has more fat.

So again, since the frothing part is better explained as a video, I've found a video below showing you how to froth milk. Be sure to check it out and understand it so that you will be able to practice using these principals.

Practicing Making Coffee Drinks at Home

Trying to practice making coffee drinks at home maybe a bit difficult due to the high price of quality espresso machines. Some of the better ones that require you to pull your own espresso using coffee grind, and foam your own milk will cost you between $500-$1500. For some reason, espresso machines are expensive in the United States. Maybe its because not many people drink espresso, and that these machines use high pressure that need to use quality, durable parts.

Whatever the reason is, making your own espresso at home maybe difficult due to the high cost.

I do have one alternative suggestion. Using a Nespresso machine shown below maybe one way you can learn how to construct an espresso based coffee drinks. In my own experience, Nespresso machines produce one of the best espressos around. My Nespresso machine that I purchased back in 1999, still produce espresso better than any Starbucks or most other coffee places around town.

This machine below is particularily cool since it has both the espresso making machine and a milk foaming device. Together, you will be able to construct a quality espresso drink comparable to a Starbucks or any other place where you get coffee.

If you have $200-$300 to spare, or if you are an avid coffee drinker that spends that much at a Starbucks each month, you may want to check it out since this is really a quality machine that is worth the money. You can check out Nespresso machines at your local Nespresso shop or at a William Sonoma/Sur La Table.


Here comes the fun part. The recipes. As a bartender working as a barista, I would think you really need to know how to make the classic coffee drinks. All others you find at a Starbucks - e.g. a Gingerbread latte - is usually just a variation of these coffee drinks below anyway. So that being said, here are the recipes that you'll need to remember.

Generally speaking these recipes below are intended for an American consumer where we tend to have bigger cups. Our smallest cups are usually 12 oz. so the recipes are with that in mind. You will need to adjust your recipes for a 16 oz or larger servings, generally by adding an extra shot of espresso. Also, a customer on occasion may ask you for a double, which means two shots even when serving them in a small 12 oz. cup.

1 shot of espresso
Steamed milk - about half way of the cup
Foam - remaining half of the cup

Cafe Latte
1 shot of espresso
Steamed milk - about 3/4 way of the cup
Foam - remaining 1/4 of the cup

Flavored Cafe Latte
1 shot of espresso
1 shot of Monin or other flavored syrup (Vanilla, hazelnut are popular)
Steamed milk - about 3/4 way of the cup
Foam - remaining 1/4 of the cup

Carmel Macchiato
1 shot of espresso
1 shot of Vanilla Syrup
Steamed milk - about 3/4 way of the cup
Foam - remaining 1/4 of the cup
Top with whipped cream and caramel syrup

Cafe Mocha
1 shot of espresso
1 shot (about 1/2 - 1 oz.) of chocolate syrup
Steamed milk - about 3/4 way of the cup
Foam - remaining 1/4 of the cup
Whipped cream upon request

White Chocolate Mocha
1 shot of espresso
1 shot (about 1/2 - 1 oz.) of white chocolate syrup
Steamed milk - about 3/4 way of the cup
Foam - remaining 1/4 of the cup
Whipped cream upon request

Cafe Au Lait
Regular brewed coffee - half way to the cup
Steamed milk - remaining half of the cup
Top with some foam

1 shot of espresso
Hot water - fill to top

Mastering these recipes should get you by 95% of time when a customer orders a coffee drink. By the way, it got trendy a few years back when a customer orders a "triple non-fat soy mocha no whip", but I think that trend has died down a bit. Just do listen to what a customer wants since some do specify the milk type and how many shots that they want in their drinks.

All right, that's it for this lesson. Good luck studying, and until next time, Cheers!

This is a pretty awesome deal I found lately. Amazon Prime is free for one year for students. All you need is a .edu email address. There's no catch. The only catch is that Amazon whats you to get hooked on being their customer as a student, and beyond it. Be sure to check it out. Nothing to lose everything to gain!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Lesson 15: Ice

Hello everyone! Welcome back to Free Online Bartending School. A nice little way to learn about bartending on the web. Today's lesson is about "ice."

As a bartender, you always want to entertain your guests. One easy way to do so is by the ice that you serve them. The water is free, and all you need to do is take care of the rest to make it a pleasant experience to your guests.

Ice Crusher

For many of us, we tend to make ice in the freezer that looks like this at our home.

It's a normal, standard ice tray that makes normal pieces of ice cubes that we are used to seeing at home. But as I mentioned in my lessons, this ice is not the best type of ice for bartending. They really do not blend and crush well for frozen cocktails due to its shape and size. And when you put it into a highball cocktail straight, the ice looks so normal that you take away from the overall experience of a cocktail. The cocktail just doesn't seem to taste as good.

Anyway to remedy this situation, there are a variety of ice crushers available on the market to make you some crushed ice. Crushed ice tends to go well with cocktails for a few reasons.

1. They tend to melt a little faster thereby diluting your drink to a good strength and consistency.
2. They feel good on the mouth when you sip it. (I personally love to drink whiskey on the rocks, or a margarita with crushed ice since it dilutes the drink well, and it just for some reason feels and tastes better.)
3. They have a better look and feel compared to the normal ice cube made from an ice tray.

So to go back to my point, you may want to consider buying some of these items to make some crushed ice at home.

(I am using Amazon links again to show you the picture, price, rating, and description of the items. I hope you don't mind. By the way, currently students and Moms get free membership into Amazon Prime, which is their program where you get 2 Day Shipping for free. It normally costs $79 a year, but free now to students and Moms. Awesome deal!)

I have been using this ice crusher for about 10 years, but in all honesty, as the rating mentions, it's probably not the best product to use. It works, but it's a lot of work. It doesn't allow you to crush a lot of ice, so you'll have to crush it several times to get enough crushed ice for you and your guest.

Looking through Amazon, I found that there is an automatic one these days. They'll probably work much better if you have a lot of ice to crush.

Seems like a nice tool to have. As you go on your journey to become a professional level bartender, you may need tools such as these to do your job right.

Big Pieces of Ice

In some cases, you may want to have a really big piece of ice instead. Big pieces of ice are usually used when you drink a nice scotch on the rocks. The bigger piece of ice will melt slower than a smaller piece of ice, thereby allowing you to enjoy the aged scotch without it being diluted too much. It also looks really cool.

This method creates nice pieces of ice that you can use with your scotch on the rocks. However, the only draw back to this method at home is that you'll need to go buy the ice block (thereby it's not free), and since the ice block is rather large it takes up a lot of space in your freezer. The ice will also not break cleanly all the time, and you'll end up with a lot of ice pieces you'll just waste.

To remedy that situation, I've been using an ice tray like this that is able to make big circular piece of ice. They have been working very well for me.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find this product in the United States. This particular one above is from Amazon Japan. You'll still be able to order it, but shipping may cost you a bunch. If you're ambitious enough, you may want to check it out. The product itself is about $4, but shipping may cost a little more.

There are also big square ice trays in the U.S., but I haven't had great luck with these. I have a hard time taking out the ice from the mold, and a square ice just doesn't feel right in a glass with scotch in it.

Maybe you'll have better luck than me. The one that I bought was a relatively cheap one that wasn't very well made. This one above has great reviews.

I found a pretty cool video on how to make this square piece of ice into a round one. I'm not sure if I recommend this method, but you can enjoy a work of a professional.

Scary... but impressive.

Cool Ice Molds

The remainder will be a list of cool ice molds that I found. They look really cool, and it will be a nice little piece of flair to entertain your guests with. Most of the ice molds below are made by Fred & Friends.

The ice cube shot glasses. I introduced this in the shooters lesson, but here it is again. They look really cool for a Jagger shot.

Moai ice cubes. How cool.

They call this one the Gin & Titonic.

If you or your buddy is a guitar player, this is a must. Great reviews too.

Maybe for your next Kahlua and milk?

Looks like a nice one for a refreshing citrus cocktail.

Anyway, so here's a few of them. There are whole lot more cool ice molds, so be sure to check it on Fred & Friends website or on Amazon.

All right, this lesson was about ice. Ice can enhance a cocktail's overall experience, so as you start to become a good bartender, keep an eye out for details like this.

Okay, until next time, good luck studying, and Cheers!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...