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chrisweaver_barista

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About chrisweaver_barista

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  • Location
    Lincoln, UK
  • Interests
    coffee, music, games, books, wine
  • Occupation
    Head Barista
  1. Hi Chris

     

    Just noticed your a moderator on here. I'm the guy that came to La Bottega and did a trial shift.

     

    Regards

    Chris

  2. Hey guys. Some of you who know me will know that aside from coffee. I love writing. So here is a super short piece I wrote a couple of days ago. Feedback appreciated Sat next to each other on in the lobby of the apartment building on a sofa so soft that it dipped towards the middle, neither of them knew how to feel. So much had been between them for so long until now and yet, there was a lingering feeling, a final barrier. “This moment is everything” he said. “You are everything” she replied. Their hands briefly touched as he shuffled deeper into the foetal comfort of the sofa. She recoiled as though his skin was poison. “I’m sorry” she said, reaching over to show the palm of her tiny porcelain hand to him. As he took it in his tanned leather fingers, a shudder spread through them like the chill of winter winds. The path that Oliver had taken to arrive at this moment had been agony. The sofa pulled them together. The lingering resistance that sat between them had been broken by Oliver taking her hand in his own. The distance between her and him crept imperceptibly smaller, soon they were one. “I’m terrified” he whispered “Why?” she asked “I’m yours” A tear ran down his face. It had not been a rare sight over the last many months, but this was the first to betray an emotion other than deep frustration. He was happy. It filled him, a glow light spread from the depth of his chest. She caught it in the palm of her other hand as it fell from his jaw. It sat as a jewel, trembling with her as she looked at it with a sad wonderment. Gently she closed her delicate fingers over it before turning her hand towards the ground and opening them. It fell into a coronet on the black tiled floor, and with it, Oliver was renewed. Chris Weaver
  3. It is the most concerning for sure. And the one I have had to deal with the most. I wouldn't say you should look for another job, it takes a lot of gentle persuasion and education. I think that a lot of the time, coffee bar owners can be reasonably short minded, pinching pennies in the areas where a bit of money would offer great gains.
  4. Hey guys, just wrote a new coffee essay for my website, entitled "The Simplification of Espresso. It's hosted on my site with some other essays at http://www.chrisweaver.co.uk but I'd love to start a discussion about it on here. It's been awhile since I have done any writing about coffee. It's been a tumultuous six months for me; between leaving my job at The Angel, travelling around europe, living in Leeds and generally being an unemployed aspiring author. Recently however, the bug has bitten me again, sending coffee flowing through my veins and greasing my cogs into motion. In the last few weeks. I have started again to get involved into the barista side of speciality coffee. I was privileged to work a trial shift at Fernandez and Wells in Soho, London. Unfortunately it came to nothing, though it was a great chance for me to see the working of an efficient coffee bar, managing to sustain high-end quality without the common drop in speed. I have also been making a nuisance of myself at my former place of employment, The Angel Coffee House. Helping the eager, if in some cases inexperienced, staff pour the best coffee with the equipment they have. Throughout these last few weeks re-mounting the coffee horse I fell so hard from, one word has been repeating itself in my thought processes. Simplification. From my own experience as well as watching those on the same journey, baristas go through a number of different phases in their learning process. Phase One – The Craving to Learn The craving to learn fills inexperienced heads with more knowledge than they can possibly hope to use. What this achieved for me was a tendency to put steps in my espresso pouring process without the knowledge to understand why. Tapping, the practice of knocking the side of the portafilter with a tamper, is a great example of this. The more I've thought about the benefits of tapping; knocking the loose coffee from the walls of the portafilter, the more I'm realising the negatives; disturbing the puck and damaging the tamper, far those purported benefits. Phase Two – Obsession Over Detail Following this craving for knowledge then came the desire to read up on everything and I fell eagerly into my obsessive phase. Buying Scaces and excessively sensitive scales to achieve scientific perfection in what I now can perceive as a very imperfect craft. Coffee is after all an organic and finicky substance; reacting to humidity changes, age and roasting technique on a whim. I struggle to get my head around how an extra 0.2g of ground coffee in an espresso shot can be that relevant given the plethora of variables between the green bean and the cup. Phase Three – The Frugal Coffee Bar Owner Finally the third phase is one that nearly every commercial barista I have spoken to understands. The desire to placate the financially minded coffee bar owner. Within this phase comes various bad habits; the erring towards under-dosing, sacrificing milk texture for the need to control milk wastage. Even under-flushing the groups; burning the shot, to conserve water and energy. Now I understand the desire to keep a close reign on the barista, milk being one of the main expenses in a busy coffee bar. I worked in a place once where the milk and coffee wastage was painful to see, and the business, and profit margin suffered greatly for it, I have also worked in a place where the expectations placed on the barista started to seriously deprecate the quality of the coffee. What these three phases often lead to is the development of habits each offering a step in the ritual of pouring a double espresso. Before I deconstructed my technique, here is what I would do every time. 1.Grind the coffee into the basket, rattling it around to achieve 'perfect distribution'. 2.Re-distribute the pile of coffee with my finger to make it look pretty. 3.Apply a soft tamp to expose the walls of the portafilter 4.Tap the portafilter to knock loose grinds from the wall 5.Apply a heavy tamp 6.Polish the puck 7.Wipe the rim and wings 8.Lock and load A lot of people reading this might recognise most, if not all of these steps. However, when I analysed the process, many of them seemed pointless. Rattling and knocking the portafilter around did not give me a perfect distribution. Thinking logically, I realised that dosing into a centred pile in the basket and allowing the tamp to spread the coffee outwards would give a more consistent distribution. Under these principles, distributing with my finger was also out the window. Then I came to tamping. As I previously mentioned, tapping is out. Those few coffee grinds scattered around the wall of the basket just weren't significant in the overall shot to justify it. Also, the need for a soft tamp, followed by a heavy tamp didn't seem efficient if I wasn't planning to tap. Finally, polishing the coffee puck could be done in the same motion as lifting the tamp out from my one and only tamp. After all these changes, I found myself left with a simple and efficient method with half the amount of steps, however awkward it felt at first. 1.Grind the coffee into the portafilter, focusing on creating a centred pile in the basket. 2.Tamp the coffee at my desired weight, spinning the tamper after releasing pressure and before lifting it out. 3.Wipe off the rim of the basket and wings 4.Lock and load This level of simplification felt incomplete at first. I felt as though I had lost the theatrical aspect to the pouring of espresso, like I was trivialising a holy process. But the more I used my more simplified technique, the more I realised that efficiency is more important than theatre. So many of the those steps were detrimental to the quality of the shot, adding more variables than they erased. I was even getting more consistent pours from a naked portafilter and seeing much fuller shots before blonding crept in. I'm not saying that there isn't room for the sort of measurement and experimentation we have all partaken in during the development of our barista careers. What I am saying is that we need to be more aware of each of the steps we take in the process. Efficiency and speed should be paramount in a coffee bar, without sacrificing quality. The more variables that we can prevent ourselves from introducing, the more we can hope to control and understand the variables that already exist. So please, give it a go, analyse your technique, remove the extraneous steps in your process, and compare the consistency and resulting shots side by side, you may be surprised.
  5. I'm off the drink atm (tonight being the exception), so to hit the 'cold beverage in a can' button, I drank a red bull at 2am night before last... whoops
  6. Well, after sticking my interactive CV online, and sending out a couple of emails. I know have what seems to be rather hopeful news. I have a meeting at Fernandez and Welles in Soho at 3pm on Monday regarding a supervisor position. So please, I need all the luck I can get!
  7. Yeh, I think the standard in the UK, outside of Speciality stores is to underdose. Normally due to badly set-up doser grinders, or money pinching head offices. I'm not a huge fan of overdosing (thinking of Flat White, London back before SQM).
  8. Hey guys. Would love some feedback about this. I'm looking for work (albeit casually) at the moment, and I decided to build a quick online CV, as I think it's more accessible to potential employers than email attachments. I do still attach a PDF of my print-out CV, but also give them the link to my online one. http://www.chrisweaver.co.uk/cv/ What do you guys reckon, and how would you improve or change it?
  9. Alas I won't be there. Money is rapidly becoming an issue. Though maybe I should get a sandwich board saying "Unemployed barista needs food", get the sympathy vote. My protege, the glamorous CJ (@ceeige) might be heading down though!
  10. I reckon the Rattleware beat the Motta jugs hands down, simply for symmetry and consistency of latte art, especially for more elaborate designs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YG9aRCOKfA a rattleware in action!
  11. Well I've been about on here a few times before (as my post count shall attest) but recently, I went insane, so not been on so much. I have however travelled across europe, spent WAYY too much money, taken lots of photographs, startd a novel and quit another coffee bar job. Hello everyone... again...!
  12. Also (sorry for double post) don't be tempted to spin the PF when using a San Remo. I find it does NOT hold onto the pucks that well. "Is it a bird, is it a plane.... no it WAS a perfectly distributed and tamped coffee pucking, now disintegrating all over my converse"
  13. We need a campaign against tapping (though not against knockers). When you hit that pour button, the water is hitting the portafilter with high pressure. No grinds are going to be left stuck to the portafilter. Also those grinds left are going to be probably less than 0.1% of the grinds, its negligible to the shot. What you are doing is breaking the seal between the puck and the PF giving side channeling, it sounds horrible (metal on metal, euwww) and I've had wayy too many good tampers ruined by over-zealous tappers. It feels horrible to not tap once you're in the habit of it, but for the sake of Reg Barber, John Gordon and the other tamper makers out there JUST DONT DO IT!
  14. You guys must be superheros. I have a HEAVY tamp, and in all my time in coffee bars, I have never cracked or deformed a basket, and that's over 10000 tamps!! I'm gonna take a weird line here, and argue that a tamp doesn't need to be fine tuned at all. The difference between a super light tamp, and good heavy tamp I've measured at normally And for anyone obsessing over tamp weights, I did a demonstration once to prove a point... I dosed, distributed (luckily pretty well) and locked the PF in without tamping, perfect shot of espresso. Great way to prove that tamping maybe isn't THAT important. Though I think I did get lucky
  15. I'm surprised I'm the first guy to say it. But with espresso, your crema is REALLY going to suffer with pre-ground beans. After beans are ground you're gonna see a drop in crema after about 2-3 minutes, let alone after the 3-4+ days to get it into your machine at home. You don't need to drop a large amount of money to get a good grinder. You can pick up a Hario Skerton hand grinder for Secondly, look to cut out as many variables as possible. Exactly the same amount of ground coffee each time (if you have scales, think between 18-20 grams, but when you get a dose, stick to it). Simplify your tamp as much as possible. I've seen people pull FANTASTIC shots with one simple heavy tamp followed by a quick polish (lightly turn the portafilter 90 degrees). No tapping. If you're seeing really fast pours, you won't get good crema, and a lot of issue will be with the pre-ground. The only way to slow the pour, without adjusting the grind, is dosing more ground coffee.
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