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Yes, you can have your coffee at home, whilst learning the craft.
One thing the 2020 pandemic lockdown has given us is more online support, and nomatter what you are looking at , the Zoom name comes up almost every time. (Whatever happened to the old school Skype ?) So I took the course to check it out for you ( and me ? ). It’s so worth it – check out the links at the end of the post.
First, I’ll pass on a few buying tips from the pros from the Q&A at the end of the session.
1. If I have to buy the coffee in a supermarket which would be best ?
Well, if you can’t get speciality coffee, as a good backup 3 brands were mentioned: Union, Modern Standard, Grumpy Mule.
2. Also, for nut milks, which are best ?
I’ve sourced the ones mentioned where I could, so just click through to see on the red links below.
With moo milk a barista prefers to use full fat. For nut milks, the better oat milks appear to come from Minor Figures or Oatly. For Soy, it’s really difficult to foam these, so go for one that says ‘professional barista’ milk if you see it… like Alpro Professional, as they will often have a higher fat content making it easier to get a nice stable microfoam bubbles. Happy Happy Soy Boy was also mentioned but I can’t find them online yet for you. In the class, the barista also told us the temperature to texture to for nut milks ( less than cow milk ).
3. Can I buy the Sage cup used in the class ?
No! You can’t buy the cup afterwards – it was only made for the class – so if you like it, get it upfront with the beans when you sign up. I really liked it. It’s only in one colour though – Sage of course !
Just when I thought great customer service was dead to the world !
If it’s true you are attracted to what is good for you, then it even works for hand blenders and coffee machines ! And there’s always a reason for it, behind the scenes there is a company that we hope has the same values as ours, about the quality, authenticity, and looking after the customer. By offering these kind of online masterclasses, Sage have taken back the customer service gauntlet in a big way for us, and modernised it all in the process.
A great team
It’s always so great to see the enthusiastic, knowledgeable and personable staff behind the scenes too. Luke Powell was a natural in front of the camera – maybe all baristas are ;). Tom Hall was very professional, keeping up with a large number of off camera questions – giving great detailed answers offline ( in a way that we could all see ) , and dealing with some live, with Luke. It was a great show.
I hope they don’t mind that I took a quick picture as I logged in. I didn’t want to put Luke’s face in the picture without permission. Everything was beautifully close up, and camera angles were changed so you could really see the detail as he frothed the milk.
What I learned
Well I managed to make 4 big pages of notes. I’ve shared some of their best coffee and milk buying tips though – see below – as you may as well be getting the right products in to make your coffee.
I’ll also feed some of the great info. back into my in-depth review on the Barista Touch machine ( the ideal machine for both Paul and I, with its combination of manual barista and customised automatic features) .
Here’s what we covered.
1. The overall process, key points and tips to making a perfect cappuccino.
What to expect when dialling-in to get the perfect brew. What you’re aiming for from pressure, times, to temperatures, grind settings, single or double shot, tamping, using the razor. The Barista Pro (just machine below the barista touch in the Sage series) was used during the class but the same ideas work throughout the range so it was perfect.
2. Tips on using the machine.
Great to see a professional doing it with a machine that you can have at home.
You get to learn a bit of Barista lingo too.
3. Latte art
You should be able to make your own perfect latte art heart by the end of the session. He shows how to do it in great (easy !) detail. Keep an eye on the Q&A too ( he answers some live). I happened to learn a lot about the differences in using moo milk vs nut or plant milks ( check it out at the bottom of this page) . Which ones are the best to buy and how to make the best latte with them – it’s not the same, as you can imagine ! So the tips and tricks are vital to know.
Not all milks are equal, and not all will steam ( e.g. Soy won’t). You need one that provides stable microfoam bubbles to make latter art. To get the best latte art with Oat milk – by barista style milk.
Best Soy milk – Happy Happy Soy Boy
Best Oat milks – Minor Figures, or Oatly. Alpro professional also good.
When you’re heating the jug of milk, hold the jug with one hand and as the sound gets lower the milk is getting hotter – when it’s too hot to touch, that’s when to stop! Should be about 55℃/130℉
4. Using specialist 3rd wave coffee
The masterclass was created in partnership with a roastery they recommend in the UK ( Caravan coffee – one of the best 3rd wave coffee house in the U.K. ). I learned a lot about what specialist means, and what 3rd wave means. In fact, I learned about the industry and the special relationship from coffee farm to roastery to your home with these machines.
3rd wave is artisanal, all about making the coffee, and the experience special. It’s about taking the idea that the farmer started with to make great quality coffee, and bring that bean all the way to the customer to share the ideal. Caravan coffee is a company that achieves the ideal cup of coffee intended by the coffee farmer.
When buying coffee, look out for these definitions.
SCA (The Specialty Coffee Association), are the guys that provide standards by which specialty coffee can be measured. So they give a score between 0-100 for coffee. Anything above 80 points is special!
Fairtrade is about selling directly to the coffee roaster.
If you can only buy supermarket brands, the best are UNION, MODERN STD, and GRUMPY MULE.
Crushed vs. Natural coffee beans. Crushed means the cherry is taken off and the taste is cleaner, natural means the sun dries the cherry off and the taste is a boozy complex. All coffee is best in less than 3 mths from opening it, after that it loses its freshness. Store in the fridge door or better, in a vacuumed coffee cannister.
By the way… what’s 2nd wave coffee I hear you ask! It’s a really consistent cup – like Italian coffee.
Your roastery will tell you how their coffee is best made, and Sage used that ‘formula’ if you like of time, temperature, and quantity so that the perfect coffee you end up with is exactly what the coffee farmer and the roastery have created for you. It’s something special, and you get to be the barista that delivers that unctuous black gold into the cup.
With the Sage Barista Pro machine, set the volume , grind time, grind size. eg 19g coffee / 38ml / 29secs extraction. For a single basket, use 11or 12g coffee with 20-25sec extraction.
Makes small iterations to the grind size to get to your recipe, and its worth wasting 4secs of coffee between grind changes. Remember to push hard with the tamper and v. important to use the razor card to level off.
(Note: 9bar, 93℃ 54 basket ( easier than the 58basket) if you have no dual boiler. 58mm basket is used more for commercial machines.)
5. Cups !
When I was signing up to the class, I had the option of signing up for free, or for a set fee that included a big bag of coffee from the roastery and a specially designed sup by Sage. I didn’t do that because we don’t get deliveries easily on the island. Boy did I feel that I missed out ! That cup for one, is a special design and not only looks great but has markings in it that Luke ( who helped design it !) uses to help you get the latte art right. Sneaky but brilliant. Secondly, if you have the coffee beans they are using in the class, you will get a lot more out of the class as you can do ( during or after the class) exactly the steps they did to get your perfect coffee.
SCA – The Specialty Coffee Association
These guys provide standards by which specialty coffee can be measured. So they give a score between 0-100 for coffee. Anything above 80 points is special!
A shout out to Sage and Breville customer service for this amazing masterclass.
… by a real barista, now a ‘Sage Appliances’ staff member.
I know I called them out once when I couldn’t get an answer, but since then I have to say that either that was a one off, or something has changed. I’ve been able to get answers easily from Sage on email, and thank goodness for great customer targeting, because I got offered a free masterclass this week. I thought I’d jump at the chance and try it out for you all first… yes, it turns out that the pleasure was all mine ! But it’s not too late, there are more classes to be had. One in a few days in fact, so check it out the next class here.
That’s all folks. Enjoy your class.
If you’re unsure which Sage machine to buy, just get on our friend’s email list and send us your questions and if we can help we certainly will. Or go to our page on the best manual machines to see which one we chose, or our in depth review of our favourite bean-to-cup machine here.
Don’t forget to have Zoom installed, and check it out here on eventbrite.
( Check out other free and paying coffee making classes here ! )
Paul and Aoibheann