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Top 5 frequently asked questions about coffee

Nicole K

Posted on September 30 2019

1. What's the difference between a latte and flat white?

Not all that much actually! A latte is served in a glass, the standard size for a latte glass is 220ml. The milk is textured the same way but a little more foam is added to a latte.

A flat white is served in a cup, the cup can range from 170ml to 240ml volumes, therefore the flat white can appear a little weaker or stronger than the latte depending on what size of cup is used. A little less foam is served in a flat white.

In a reusable takeaway cup there is little, if any, difference.  Really the main difference is whether you prefer your coffee served in a glass or a cup.

 

2. What is an espresso?

An espresso, is the term used for a single shot of coffee. The espresso machine uses pressure to brew, this pressure forces the hot water through the coffee grounds. An espresso coffee should have full body, have a crisp brightness and a subtle sweetness with some bitterness. There are numerous factors at play when creating a great tasting espresso. Firstly, the beans have got to be of a high quality and a medium roast profile works well for espresso. 

The perfect espresso should be between 25-30ml and take around 25-30 seconds to extract, containing a thick crema on top. If it is poured too fast it is ‘under extracted’ and leaves a sour taste on the sides of your tongue; if it takes too long to pour it is ‘over extracted’ and burnt, leaving you with a bitter taste.

While espresso (or short black) is some people’s preferred way of drinking coffee, baristas also use a shot of espresso to make standard milk-based coffee beverages.

 

3. Does it matter what milk I use?

This is a highly contentious topic. In Italy, don't even bother asking for a soy cappuccino, it's full fat dairy milk or have it black! However, here in Australia we are a little more amenable - now you can get soy milk, skim milk, oat milk, almond milk, macadamia milk, hemp, rice, walnut, hazelnut, to name a few. The best milk for coffee is undoubtedly full fat cows milk!  However, the popularity of the plant based diet is having an impact on how people drink their coffee and cafes are doing their best to keep up with the trends and consumer demands.

Following is a short review of three plant based milks that are readily available in supermarkets and baristas use in cafes.

Soy Milk is currently the most widely available of all the dairy alternatives and it is the most nutritionally similar to dairy out of all the alternatives. The soy adds a subtle nutty flavour to the coffee, it's an acquired taste but something you can get used to. When steamed, it produces a fairly dense foam with a thick creamy texture that is pleasant to drink but it isn't the easiest to create latte art with. Also due to the natural oils in the soy milk, the milk can sometimes split and separate from the coffee creating a rather undesirable appearance. A good barista using a good soy milk and quality coffee shouldn't have this issue. 

Almond Milk - this one adds a very nutty flavour to the coffee, so if you want coffee to taste like coffee, forget about changing to almond milk, next...

Oat Milk is increasing in popularity as it is creamy and lightly flavoured and the flavour mixes well with coffee. When steaming oat milk it behaves in a similar way to dairy and its hearty foam lends itself well to latte art. Nutritionally, it is high in fibre but lower in protein than cow’s milk or soy-based versions.  The word on the street is that Oatley Oat Milk Barista Version is the bees knees of oat milk for coffee.

 

4. What temperature should espresso coffee be served at?

Espresso coffee should be brewed with 90-95 degree Celsius brewing water. For a medium roast we'd suggest 93 degrees celsius that's smack bang in the middle of the ideal temp range.

Milk heated to 60 degrees is the preferred peak for most baristas. Some of the above dairy alternatives don't work well when heated at the higher temperatures and lower temperatures tend to preserve the milk’s natural sweetness.

 

5. Why is freshly roasted coffee direct from the roaster, better than pre-packaged coffee from the supermarket?

Essentially, all roasted coffee originates from a roaster, whether that roaster is a large international multi-brand business or a small-batch local roaster. The difference from buying direct from the roaster versus from the supermarket is basically, control. Supermarkets these days are well equipped to source good coffees, single origins and beans, however their buying processes can increase  the time before it gets to the consumer.

A local roaster adapts its production based on demand and is 100% committed to producing quality, consistency and fresh roasted coffee. "Fresh" doesn't mean it was roasted that day, it means it was roasted a week or two prior to consumption and it has been through the degassing process, which is an essential process to release CO2 from the beans.

And I'd like to bust-a-myth here - not all direct-from-the-roaster coffees are more expensive! la Casa coffee is on-par with the supermarket prices, and we can guarantee you quality and freshness and we deliver directly to your door.

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