Behind The Bar: Espresso lab, at Dancing Goats Coffee Bar in Atlanta.
So, I’ve had the idea in my head for a while to do a behind the bar lab for customers of our Dancing Goats shop, so they could see what a barista does to make espresso, what espresso is, and what it’s not, and just what a good barista does on a daily basis to pull that great shot of espresso. In my head, I’d do a Espresso 101 lab, mostly straight from the SCAA’s CP101 Intro to Espresso lab I know so well. After that, I’d invite the customers behind the bar to see how espresso is made, to see how the machine and the grinder, and to learn the importance of both and the barista’s understanding of both. I’d show them why the grinder needs to be adjusted from day to day, explaining the variances. I’d then pull three shots, one okay, one horrible, and one textbook. And I’d ask they try all three, and tell the difference.
And at the end, I’d allow time for each of them to jump up to the machine and pull a shot for themselves. Dosing, distributing, leveling, tamping, extracting, turning the pump off when the shot is done. And then, they were to try their shots. In my head, they’d gain a new knowledge of what espresso is and isn’t. They’d also learn what makes espresso and regular drip coffee different. And more importantly for me, they’d gain a new respect for both manual made espresso, and the baristas who work so hard day in and day out producing great espresso. They’d see all the work that goes into it, and knowing that not everyone can just get up there and make espresso. Baristas are craftsmen of a trade that has the potential to create something really special. They are mostly passionate people, drawn to the craft of the elusive perfect espresso shot, and the love of coffee. In my head, the customers that came would take away all these things.
And that, my friends, is precisely what happened. It was absolutely everything I wanted it to be and then some, and I can’t wait to do it again. Coffee knowledge for the win.