R.I.P. Coffee Common

Today’s formal announcement of the dissolving of Coffee Common made me want to resurrect this blog to post a few thoughts on the impact CC has had on me.

As nerdy / fanboy as this sounds, it was one of my dreams to be able to participate in an event like Coffee Common, and I was fortunate enough to have been selected as a barista for CC x TED 2012 in Long Beach. Through CC I was able to meet incredible baristas / coffee people from around the globe who all have and continue to inspire me. I was able to enjoy coffees from Roasters I may not have ever experienced, and had the pleasure of introducing others to these same coffees.

But the biggest thing Coffee Common taught me was the importance of Discovery & Wonder, and this came in the form of story telling. At CC, we were encouraged to make telling the stories of our coffees a priority. In our industry, we are privileged to work with coffees that are completely traceable, and with this traceability surfaces the honest, real-life stories of the human-beings behind each coffee. These stories are amazing and the incredible interactions I had reinvigorated how important they are in engaging not only customers, but us as coffee people.

Finally there was the sense of community. People were pretty floored when we told them that we were actually from different cafes and roasteries from around the world and would ‘normally’ be considered competitors but were all united in our passion and love for providing an amazing coffee experience. We have an incredible global community in coffee that is actually very tight knit. I strive to take this into my own community and develop the coffee scene closer.

Coffee Common was and will be one of the absolute highlights of my coffee career, and I thank the Coffee Common committee, fellow baristas, sponsors and roasters who sacrificed so much to make it happen. The friends I made, the experiences and interactions I had inspired me in so many ways.  And I guess you can see the impact a concept like Coffee Common has had. While Coffee Common has formally finished, you see so many CC like events and ideas spreading around the world, which I think shows a goal accomplished by CC.

Thanks Coffee Common for everything!



The double riz jiz

I’ve been on unintentional hiatus from this blog and Jeremy has simply stopped giving a care but I had a bit of a coffee centered week that got me a bit excited. Here’s a post that has been brewing (heh, clever) for a little while. It will address the love affair, or #JIMP over ristretto coffees and my reasons against this style of coffee that has a high prevalence in Brisbane.

1) it is a cop out for the Barista

I’m guilty of this often. pulling ristretto coffee is essentially idiot proof when you factor in the technology of coffee today. there is a large margin of
error in the extraction process and leads to lowered Barista attention to detail and ability.
From personal experience:
individual variables hold very little influence when you have such a high soluble ratio. Subtle changes in temperature setting result in insignificant difference in cup. subtle changes in grind result in insignificant changes in cup. Finally (believe it or not) the extraction rate is so slow that subtle changes in shot time, or length result in minimal variation.

in summary ristretto is a safe mode that diminishes necessary Barista involvement. (if you disagree and think that there is skill involved in pulling ristretto then maybe you should reexamine your Barista skill set)

2) injustice to specialty coffee and
estate coffee

Most new coffee shops will call themselves specialty (another issue for another time) therefore need to showcase their coffees. Being a Barista has taught me many things about coffee and one of my earliest lessons was the variety of nuances that are associated with terroir and origin. these nuances demand solid roasting and precise extraction that falls in the range of espresso normale rather than ristretto. So why pull ristretto and miss out on all the complexity?

sidebar: in Australia coffee drinkers love body. but implore that there is an inherent difference in body due
to the attribute of the coffee and false body due to extraction method

3) ristretto may be cool, but won’t help you in competition


Barista thoughts

One of the things I love most is dialing in coffee. Not only does it make me feel important, I also get the opportunity to make things as difficult as possible for my coworkers.


I employ a method where I use as many tools and variables as I can.

First I make sure that I get as many groupheads functioning at different temperatures as possible. Next I whip out the scale and dose a weight of coffee that is always a prime number and at a level that will make the work bench as messy as possible. Secondly I will make the pre-infusion time that is also a prime number so that it is difficult to keep track of when we really get slammed on bar. Now with the introduction of pressure profiling, things get more fun. Not only do we have to keep track of pre-infusion time, we also need to keep track of full pressure brewing and post-infuse. (#prime numbers, muahaha).

What do I accomplish?

Well over my many years of coffee experience (probably up there with Howell and sweetmarias …er…..) I have found that cloak and daggers is the trick to coffee. The more confused I make people, the more amazing and buddah-like I seem. So in order to continue to feel important, I find it essential to confuse not only customers but also my coworkers….no…wait, ESPECIALLY my coworkers.

Now dosing like 13g of coffee, preinfusing for another 17 seconds, full pressure pulling for 19 seconds and postinfusing for 23 seconds is a lot too keep track of…so I thought it’d be less confusing to introduce some new terms that are easier to “get a hold of”.