5 Top Coffee Tips from Craig Charity

Friday, 24 March, 2017

The Coffee Magazine went to listen to Craig Charity’s coffee presentation at the recent Decorex Durban event. Here are our Top 5 tips we learnt from the 2017 All African Barista Champ.

1. Your cup of coffee is only as good as the sum of its parts: Coffee & Water. Make sure you are using excellent ingredients. Your coffee should be sourced from your local roastery if possible, in other words, fresh. Your water must be filtered in order to protect your equipment and give you the best possible flavour.

2. Cappuccinos are an experience. In order for a cappuccinno to live up to expectations, if you’re making one at home - you want to infuse enough air to make it “silky, velvety, rich and creamy” otherwise it’s just coffee and hot milk! Craig’s tip is to infuse about 2 secs of air at the start (The tsss, tsss noise of tearing paper) and then drop the steamwand just under the surface of the milk whirlpool in your jug. Oh, and ….65-70 degrees is enough heat!

3. If you’re drinking coffee out at a cafe - especially a Speciality Cafe - start a dialogue with your barista / owner of the store. Like Wine - you will start to ask the right questions - What wine do you like? Merlot. What coffee do you like? Ethiopia. Those are two different things! One is a varietal and one is a Origin. Here are some basics to get your conversation started:
What is the Origin (this means country!) of the coffee today?
What varietal is it? (There are so many wonderful articles online)
How was it processed?

4. This leads onto a whole section about coffee processing, and a further rabbit hole about the coffee supply chain. It’s probably one of the most important discussions in coffee and as a coffee lover / consumer - we all need to learn a lot more in this area. Essentially, different processing methods (and there are 3 main ones - Natural, Washed and Honey processed) will give you a different flavour in the cup, but more important than that, understanding more about the supply chain of the care and love and the thousands of hands that manually make this magic happen, means we’ll all be much happier paying for the coffee at a price that it truly deserves!

5. All brew methods in coffee use the same basic universal laws of physics. The difference is that some properties of the coffee are extracted more easily than others. in this order: Acidic, savoury, sweetness, bitterness. You want to get a balance of all of these. Yes, that’s right - a little bit of bitterness is not a bad thing! If you extract too fast, you’ll get more of the Acidity and if you extract too slowly you get too much bitterness. The goal is to balance out extraction and get a drink that gives you the required amount of acidity, saltiness, sweetness and bitterness.
How can you control this? Think about water - it’s lazy - it’ll follow the path of least resistance.
Things to slow down an extraction:
1. Add more coffee.
2. Make your Grind Size smaller.

Craig features in our Autumn edition showing you how to get the best out of your plunger!

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