Twenty five to thirty seconds. That's all the time we need to make an espresso.
The flow is too slow. We check the filters, the screens. All clean. We adjust the grinder.
Too fast this time. A few more tries. Just can't get it right.
"Taka-takataka-tak," goes the dosing lever. We pull more shots. The flow is still too fast.
We studied our manuals. We checked our grounds. We checked the espresso machine. We checked the weather. And we checked our tamping.
After two hundred and fifty grams of beans spent on figuring out the right setting and doing the correct procedure, we finally got it: 30 ml in 30 seconds. That's the best we could do.
Neil, Bessy, Ramhil, and I have intense moments like these at the bar. We have to take care of our core product and the heart of every coffee-based drink in the cafe: the espresso. This small drink is the heart of everything. It separates one cafe from another, the quality of the espresso.
Pulling a shot of espresso looks easy when you're watching a barista. But it really involves a lot of science to pull a perfect shot.
A few of you might have noticed it, but the quality of our espresso-based drinks have come a long way since our 1st year. Minus the muscovado sugar and the Splenda, you'll notice that the marital ties that bond milk and coffee in your lattes and cappuccinos have gotten stronger.
Sometimes it's very tempting to neglect the espresso, especially if your best sellers are ice blended drinks. Right now we have an online store that we're maintaining; we have just released our best-selling non-coffee based drink yet, the Blue Crush; and we keep playing and experimenting with our monthly FoMs. When business is going well with these on hand, sometimes there's this temptation to stray away from the very foundation of the business: the coffee itself, in its purest form.
I have learned my craft from the best people I know and I'm not about to let them down. I pass my knowledge to my baristas and train them well so that they too will share the same passion for coffee. Because every good shot of espresso pulled is a victory for coffee.
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Cafe Antonio remains a mystery. Up to now, and I have been mentioning this on our blogs for over a year now, we are still amaaazed at how Elbi people are supporting us. It's already summer, and people are still packing the cafe! God has truly been gracious to us. Sometimes with success, we tend to get big heads and believe in ourselves too much. We rely too much on what we can do, what we have achieved, and what we have accomplished. And then you'll say, "Ang galing ko talaga!"
We have those moments, to be honest, but we knock our heads and remind ourselves that this is not our own doing. Call it lucky, call it blessed, but its undeniable that God is the foundation of this cafe. This business we have is a leap of faith. We took a very very huge risk. We didn't plan this. Cafe Antonio - LB was not on our itinerary. God just pieced everything together and made it work. He then chose us to run it and we're doing our best to run it exceptionally well and not screw up.
Our barista training, our love for the job, and our desire to serve people with the best coffee possible, it's all part of doing the best we can for a job that God entrusted us to do.
"Show me the path where I should walk, O Lord; point out the right road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you." (Psalm 23:4-5, NLT)