Making coffee art is harder than it seems!

12 Nov 2022 11:37am
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Coffee is fantastic as most people would agree. In Malaysia alone, we consume 800,000 60kg bags in 2021 and 2022 which shows our love for caffeinated drink.

Sinar Daily visited Limoka Coffee to meet up with its Co-founder, Azrul Hanaffi to talk about coffee and learn how to brew coffee latte from scratch.

Making good coffee is not as simple as most people would think as there are multiple variables that play their parts to achieve a good brew.

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It starts with choosing the right coffee beans that suit the type of coffee beverages, which will determine the flavours.

“At Limoka Coffee, we choose to use a blend of arabica beans from Brazil Santos and Papua New Guinea,” said Azrul.

“The reason why we choose these beans is that it has a bitter taste and slightly smoky flavour which pair well with milk and sweet syrups like hazelnut and caramel, which is what most of our customers love to order their coffee with,” he added.

Coffee latte or its original Italian name, cafe latte, roughly translates into coffee with milk. This beverage calls for a higher ratio of milk than coffee which make it an ideal drink for someone that is not used to drinking coffee.

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To start brewing a coffee latte, you need to have a few pieces of equipment ready which include a coffee grinder, coffee machine, portafilter, measuring scale, coffee distributor, tamper, and pitcher for steaming milk.

“One of the best tips that I can share with someone that just starting their coffee journey is to prioritise a good and consistent coffee grinder, as it is the main factor that will determine the quality of your brew,” Azrul said.

“A grinder that can give you a consistent grind size will guarantee the same taste and flavour every time and consistency is key in making good coffee,” he added.

 Azrul Hanaffi
Azrul Hanaffi

After you get all the equipment sorted, it is time to start brewing.

First, get the measurement scale and grind the coffee beans to the right weight. The recipe that Azrul shared calls for 18 grams of coffee.

After it has been ground to the right weight and placed in the portafilter, you have to prepare it for the coffee machine.

This is where the distributor and tamper come in. First, use the distributor to distribute the coffee ground evenly on the portafilter and then use the tamper to compress it in place.

“This step is taken to ensure that when we extract the espresso from the coffee machine, it will pour out smoothly and evenly, which will produce a strong coffee.”

When the portafilter is prep and ready, it goes to the coffee machine.

After the portafilter is attached to the machine, put the measuring scale below the shot glasses to measure the output.

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“We want to aim for 36 grams of espresso which is extracted within 30 seconds,” said Azrul.

When the espresso has been successfully extracted and poured into a cup, the next step is to steam the milk.

The milk is poured into a steel pitcher, measuring it to 300 ml or roughly 10 ounces.

Then the steam wand is submerged in the milk. It is important to get this step right as this will determine the smoothness of the coffee latte and it will allow the barista to make some latte art.

“To make a coffee latte, we want steamed milk with a lot of microbubbles as that will produce the smooth texture that we need for a coffee latte.”

To achieve this, the pitcher is tilted slightly to allow the milk to swirl and produce the microbubbles.

“The best way to know when the milk is done is by using a thermometer, but if you do not have one you can gauge it by using your palm around the pitcher.

“When you start to feel some heat, let go of your palm. Then put it back around the pitcher and start counting to 3 and immediately stop the steam process,” he added.

After the milk is done, make sure to pop any large bubbles in the milk and espresso to ensure a nice consistency when pouring it together.

Then it is time to pour the steamed milk into the cup. This step separates the professional barista and the amateur as it requires a lot of practice to get it right, especially when it comes to latte art.

First, the milk is poured higher from the cup while also swirling at the same time. After around half of the milk has been poured, the pitcher is then brought to the lip of the cup and continues to pour the milk in a straight line every couple of seconds.

This technique when done right, will result in the classic lily pattern for the latte art.

It is certainly much easier said than done. I have failed in both attempts to create the lily pattern and Azrul understands that it is hard to achieve it in the short period of time we have together.

“A lot of practice is needed to get the latte art right, keep at it and you will get there eventually,” said Azrul laughingly.

He adds, “what is more important than latte art is to first get a delicious brew, latte art is just a bonus.”

So the next time you went out for coffee and ordered a coffee latte, take time to appreciate it as it takes a lot of hours and practice to produce that beautiful latte art before it disappears right when you take your first sip.

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