Professional Coffee Equipment Obsessions
A comment on the fetish that some Baristas and consumers seem to have about buying their coffees and cafe equipment.
There is a false belief marketed that you need to spend a lot of money on specialized equipment in order to make good coffee and latte art. This insidious belief implies you need to buy the latest top secret technology in order to accomplish skilled tasks. The key word is skill, because any skill implies that you need to learn technique in order to execute it. The new technologies tend to be just shortcuts and crutches. You have to realize, there is no magic bullet, although people want to buy the easy way, in reality you have to practise building a skill which requires time, patience and old-fashioned hard work.
Instant Barista Skills from Tiger Woods
This type of marketing, the one that suggests you can buy your way to the top, works for industries like golf., Ask any weekend Duffer who believes that within themself, there is a crouching Tiger Woods potential, if only they had the right golf club! When in reality Tiger’s swing is a product of computer and video analysis biometrics, and you name it, Tiger’s swing has been subject to more scrutiny than surgical techniques. Plus, Tiger works like a madman in perfecting his craft. Your weekend Potbelly Duffer with a golf swing that looks like a farmer trying to kill a snake with a hoe isn't going to propel you to the US open or the Masters, even if you are using the same driver that Tiger is using. So, no you can not buy the correct golf club and learn from a Duffer how to have the perfect swing!
Let's be very clear, buying the best equipment isn't going to guarantee you any type of coffee quality.
Which Equipment Should I Buy First for My Cafe
A favourite question I like to ask the entrepreneurs in our classes that are going to start their own coffee shop is “What are the first items you will buy for your cafe?” and , 9 times out of 10 they answer “coffee machines and the coffee beans”. My recommendation is to NOT do that, those are the last items I would make my decision on. I would recommend that you learn how to make coffee and run a business first before I would buy a machine and beans. When you start off with buying a machine and beans it is similar to me saying “oh look, I've bought a professional cake mixer and cake flour. I'm a baker! Hur Ray!”
The average entrepreneur and consumer know it doesn't work that way, but for some reason believe that that's going to happen. “If I only had the right golf club, it would be like a persistent headache, if only I had the right steam pitcher, then I would be successful!”
Over the years we've sponsored a lot of grassroots events to have fun with the craft of being a barista. We challenged barista's to get out of their comfort zone. One of the more memorable events was the tin-can latte art pour off.
Basically we gave the barista competitors Campbell soup cans, a pair of pliers and had them bend the tin can to a pitcher shape and pour their best latte art.. Some of the design pours were amazing, but more importantly highlights the fact that we don't need the best equipment if we have skill.
I enjoy camping and like to bring along a Starbucks disposable cup, lid, my Primus camping stove, along with a stovetop milk frother, which is basically a kettle and closed vessel with a steam wand attachment and a valve - essentially the outdoorsmen espresso machine. I would routinely make my drink and pour latte art on top of course. I would walk proudly in the forest with my take out drink, hoping that someone would notice and when they did, they would ask astonished “where did you get that?” And I would answer “oh it's just around the corner, Damn Starbucks are everywhere.”