Coffee Appreciation Class

Any caffeine abuser knows this: a perfect cup of coffee is almost better than a spouse. Oh, wait! Let me take that statement back. Coffee is just like a spouse ~ it's hot, delicious, gives you joy, and from time to time, a killer migraine.

Despite that last drawback, I still love coffee, and will forever will. I'm not a coffee snob. Far from. I put milk in my coffee. Snobs and purists would rather snort instant coffee than do that. Nope, they won't do that either. But, just like everyone else, I like mine done in a particular way, and I'm always eager to know how to get it done the kind of perfect I prefer. 

I've always been eager to attend classes that would teach me more about the basics of coffee-making and the important things about coffee itself. I was given that chance, along with my foodie friends, a few days ago when the Philippine Barista & Coffee Academy, Inc. {PBCA} invited us for a quick coffee insight ~ a.k.a Coffee Appreciation Class.

Cappuccino Philippine Barista & Coffee Academy, Inc.

Fast Facts

Some important facts about coffee were carefully explained to us ~ from the history of coffee to sipping a hot cup without scalding your tongue. For the latter, you have to sip it swiftly through gritted teeth. Of course, I was skeptical at first. De omnibus dubitandum. That's just the way I'm built. I watched my friend go first, and when he looked okay, I followed suit. I'm the best friend you'll ever have!

We've been hearing a lot about third-wave cafés as of late. I initially thought that the term is one of those marketing wordplays invented to jolt up prices ~ kinda like artisanal. It's really easy to jump to conclusions when you have minimal knowledge of something as I've learned recently. 

Aside from what we've come to know about these third-wave coffee shops {direct trade, seed-to-cup, exemplary coffee, etc.}, our barista instructor told us that the big difference lies in the barista. In third-wave cafés, the onus is on the barista to provide the customer with as much information about what the customer is drinking, and not just simply ask for their names {for the cup} or how their day is going. In other words, it's an upgraded in-store experience ~ you're paying for a great cup of coffee and a wee bit of coffee education.

Hyperacidity is the downside of being a heavy coffee drinker. We were told that a prepared coffee's acidity increases after five minutes. That's the consumption period? Not really. It's more of a guide. If you're suffering from gastric problems, don't let your drink sit for a long time; not necessarily within five minutes, but it shouldn't last for 30. Not drinking coffee is not an option for me.

You can't push the shelf life of your beans to two months ~ even if you freeze them. The quality declines after a month regardless of how it's stored. I'm so guilty of this. I freeze the bags of Peet's my aunt sends me and consume them even after two months. They still taste great, so I guess it's fine?  

vac pot brewing

Of course, coffee appreciation is unnecessary without demonstrating how to create a great cup. We were taught how. The first one is via the vac pot, and the second is the full-auto espresso machine. You don't need to have both or either apparatus at home to make a perfect brew. Everything lies on the basics {water temp., using the right coffee grounds, etc.}. 

I would definitely feel so fancy {hi, Iggy Azalea} if I use a vac pot/siphon daily. My boys would find it cool to have this chem lab type of set-up at home though. I use a standard auto-drip coffee maker, сafetière à piston, and when I have pods, the Verismo. I mostly use the French press.    

There's a specific weight for each cup. The purpose of which, aside from creating the perfect cup, is to avoid wastage. Next step is to, of course, grind the beans. 

Siphon Vac Pot Brewing at Philippine Barista & Coffee Academy, Inc.

Fill the lower chamber with water. Any bottled mineral water will do just fine. They say distilled is the worst water to use for coffee since it lacks minerals. 

Siphon Vac Pot Brewing Pouring Water

A certain temperature should be followed in order to perfectly extract the taste, and that is 1900F to 2050F. Anything higher than this will result in a bitter taste.

Siphon Vac Pot Brewing Checking Temperature

Filter is first placed at the bottom of the upper chamber before pouring in the fresh grounds. Stir the contents in the upper chamber once the water moves up.

Siphon Vac Pot Brewing at Philippine Barista & Coffee Academy, Inc.

Siphon Vac Pot Brewing at Philippine Barista & Coffee Academy, Inc.

Once the cloth-wick alcohol burner is removed, the vacuum begins. The contents are filtered and sucked down at the lower chamber. 

Siphon Vac Pot Brewing at Philippine Barista & Coffee Academy, Inc.

Voilà! A freshly prepared magnificent brew.

Siphon Vac Pot Brewing at Philippine Barista & Coffee Academy, Inc.

Espresso, Capuccino, and Latte

I live for espresso-based drinks, but I'm not an avid plain espresso drinker. My dad-in-law, however, is a huge fan. He does triple pulled shots in one go...always. That's a bit maniacal for me, so no. He also likes the Romano {espresso with lemon}.  

Full-auto espresso machines are practically dummy-proof that's why I like them. I'm still dreaming of having one at home. I'm very easy to please and prefer simple things. I'm good with either a La Marzocco GS/3 The Lite or a Kees van der Westen Mirage.  

Portafilter and Tamper Espresso Machine Philippine Barista & Coffee Academy, Inc.

Espresso Machine Philippine Barista & Coffee Academy, Inc.

Espresso should always be served with a glass of water ~ sparkling or still. You have to drink the water first before the coffee. 

Espresso and Water Philippine Barista & Coffee Academy, Inc.

Cafe Mocha Philippine Barista & Coffee Academy, Inc.

Café Mocha

Latte Art Philippine Barista & Coffee Academy, Inc.

Aside from 'third-wave' coffehouses, caffé latte and cappuccino art are rising in popularity nowadays. Have you seen those 3D latte art? Pure talent right there; that plus the 10,000-hour rule, probably. As the idiom goes, 'practice makes perfect'. 

Latte Art Philippine Barista & Coffee Academy, Inc.

These are all just a primer of what transpired during the class. I learned more than what I expected, and the things I learned are applicable to my 'daily grind'. To someone with a similar love for coffee and an equally objective stance, the profundity of this one-day class will be very much appreciated.

I never deflect information, be it little or large. I lived through the a-Swiss-Army-knife-will-save-the-world-MacGyver years, so I know that you have to gather as much information as you can because you just might need it someday.

The PBCA classes are best for those who are going to establish a coffee shop, existing owners who want to brush up on their knowledge, and inquisitive beings who just happen to be coffee lovers too. By the way, PBCA is the only affiliated educational institution of The American Barista and Coffee School.

So, did I appreciate coffee after the class? I've always appreciated coffee; but now, I appreciate it more. The economic impact of coffee is emphasized during the class. Coffee is a hot trade commodity. I dream of this country being a coffee-producing nation someday soon. I hope more farmers will be educated well on how to properly produce excellent coffee on their own so that the financial rewards will not only go to the big boys.

Interested? Please do check them out at the given details below:

Philippine Barista & Coffee Academy, Inc.
Unit 1803 Atlanta Centre
31 Annapolis St., Greenhills, San Juan City
Contact No.: (+632) 570.76.49
Facebook: Philippine Barista & Coffee Academy, Inc.
Twitter: @PBCAOfficial

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