Here are 5 Tips for finding really good Coffee…
You wake up, dreary eyed, not wanting to get out of bed but you do… slowly. Priority 1 – good coffee.
Once ready for work, you race towards your local coffee shop to get your morning caffeine burst just so you can make it into the office without falling asleep. The barista greets you getting your order ready with the speed of light all while chatting about the day ahead. This is one of the first positive interactions of the day.
This interaction is crucial as it sets the mood for the rest of the day. But have you ever thought “why do I go to this coffee shop?”
Is it because of the convenience?
It has the cheapest coffee?
Or the best coffee?
What are your requirements for your morning coffee?
I am writing today to help you, having worked in the cafe since it’s inception, I have compiled a list of the best tips for finding a great cup of coffee.
Yes, I said Beans! Arguably the most important ingredient in making your brew. Australians in general, are known for having serving some of the best coffee in the world but this means our standards are high.
Have you ever gone overseas asked for a Flat White and only received weird looks? Or asked for a coffee and tried not to spit it out as it tastes like burnt rubber?
In general Australian’s are pretty unforgiving with their coffee (myself included). If you go to a coffee shop and the coffee is bitter, too cold or just plain disgusting then there is little chance you will go back. Which is fair, why should you start your day off on the wrong foot?
The blend a cafe uses is one of the most important decisions, do you want a light roast, which focuses on a gentle brew? Or do you want a good strong cup of coffee that will get you going for the rest of the day?
Either way experiment!
Ask your cafe what blend they are using! Find ones that work for you, the best cafes will have their own blend, roasted close by or sometimes even in house!
Do the beans leave a you with a good feeling or a bad feeling? Many beans are harvested using forced child labour. Kids working in harsh condition, long hours and no breaks. Yup, best find out whether the beans are ethically sourced or not.
Second is Equipment, now you have the beans how are you going to extract that liquid gold to get the best possible taste?
Sure the machine will look fancy but does it perform well? Machines I lookout for are ones that count for the perfect shot. Look and see if they have numbers automatically counting while the shot is being poured. This leaves little room for error no matter who the barista is.
Is the grinder automatic or old a grimy with a squeaky handle? Speaking of grime, does the coffee machine and the area around it look clean and well looked after? Does the milk wand look clean? No one wants old milk giving them food poisoning.
Sound can be crucial in a coffee shop, does it sound like a well-oiled coffee machine? Steaming the milk, does the sound go right through you or frothing to perfection?
These all need to be considered. Start looking at the different coffee shops you frequent and look at the machines.
3. Barista Knowledge
When I say beans are one of the most important aspects of a good coffee, I lied. It’s a combination of the beans and the barista that will make you your perfect cup of coffee. As our fabulous barista Laura (pictured) said: “You can buy a Ferrari but that doesn’t mean you know how to drive it”.
As a Sydney sider, I can’t help but agree strongly with this statement.
Baristas are the conductor for the symphony, the pilot on the plane.
Their knowledge and passion can make or break your morning.
Making good coffee is almost like a dance, floating between grinder, group head and steam wand. Excellent baristas will know the moves and their coffee like the back of their hands.
So ask them questions!
Unless there are 40 people in the cafe (which I hope not as we should all be isolating!) and the barista is smashed with orders; ask, there are no stupid questions only stupid answers. We’ve all been there! I wasn’t born with coffee knowledge although I feel like some baristas would claim that.
A couple of pointers: do they weigh every shot? do they wipe the milk wand before and after every froth? do they smile while they are working?
Coffee is our passion and we love talking about it! Baristas love to talk about coffee. It is their passion. Swap stories, share what you like, be open to new experience. Try different single origins and blends. Try different styles of having your coffee served. I have changed my coffee order 100 times! But I know I am lucky, as I have room to experiment.
4. Price Point
I’m sure you’ve seen the $1 coffee from 7/11, something that makes all barista’s shudder but not because we are threatened by the cheap price but we know that coffee would be absolutely terrible but the price brings people in.
Buying two coffees a day is a pricy so you wanna get a great coffee for as cheap as possible. To be honest, you get what you pay for up to a point, there is, of course, some shops that think they have the best coffee in the world and charge $5 for a small. The most average local coffee shop will have prices between $3-4.5 for a small.
This can depend on: Location, the quality of beans, even milk. (we all know the stories about our dairy farmers not getting paid enough – don’t buy cheap milk!).
These are all quality’s you have to consider when forking out the cash for your daily coffee are they being reasonable with their prices or charging you a lot for a pretty view?
For The Freedom Hub, we make sure our prices are supporting the suppliers and their ethical supply chains. Along with making sure we have some money to make a profit not to line our pockets, but to go straight to our charity. This is why we even have a donation jar instead of tips! You have to agree that also makes it a ‘good’ coffee.
Think with the $1 7/11 coffee how ethical is it? How much of the money is going towards the farmers who grew the beans? Who are the farmers that grow your beans? Coffee plantations are one of the highest industries that rife with Modern Day Slavery which includes child labour. Here at The Freedom Hub, we have our own blend of coffee beans, called The Freedom Fighter. The farmer uses the profits from his farm to rescue and rehabilitate child soldiers. We have it roasted here an dour profits help people who have experienced slavery in Australia.
Ask your local coffee shop if they know the supply chain for their coffee beans. Is a cheap cup of coffee worth exploitation?
5. Customer Service
Finally customer service, a smile can go a long way in the morning even when you aren’t feeling your best. Some of the joys with hidden smaller coffee shops are the time taken to get to know you.
We at The Freedom Hub strive to have a great conversation while making your coffee. We love a chat about our ethos of ending modern-day slavery and the support we offer to the survivors of human trafficking within Australia.
Congratulations on making it to the end of the list! I hope these tips serve you well!
Use this knowledge wisely, go forth and find the best coffee!
Written by Bonnie – Cafe Allrounder Waterloo, Sydney