June 2011: advanced coffee training in Italy

The 2011 Professional Master of Coffee Science and Sensory Analysis will be held in Brescia (Italy) from June 27 to July 1. The Professional Master will be taught in English.

The goal of this Professional Master is of providing, through sensory analysis, criteria and practical application tools for orientating production, along the whole production process, towards the achievement of a product able to ensure customers’ maximum pleasure.

Practical training will explain and illustrate the tools for recognizing through senses qualities and defects in the cup, how to obtain maximum sensory potential in extraction at the coffee shop, sensory analysis tests for assessing quality and stability of production result and, finally, sensory analysis data and the specific tests for fast selection of green coffee, roasting and blending methods, supported by scientific confidence. The whole with the aim of achieving consumers’ best satisfaction at cup stage.

More information: please download the form.


The New Taster Cup

By Manuela Violoni, R&D manager at the Taster Study Center

Cream, gustative balance, aromas: three aspects of espresso which, according to tests, are influenced by the cup. The New Taster Cup is the result of three years of sensory experimentation, it is a improvement of the official tasting instrument of the International Institute of Coffee Tasters which values good coffees and punishes bad ones

If the glass influences the perceived characteristics of a wine, this is three times truer for the cup in that it influences not only the way in which the senses approach the beverage but also the physical status of the beverage itself: the temperature and the way in which the components of the cream surface. All these aspects have been kept into account during the experimentation to which the Tasters Study Centre has participated for the part on sensory analysis while Forever has dealt with technical issues.  The New Taster Cup has been designed to optimise its performance in all stages of its use, not only from the point of view of tasting but also to support the barista in preparing a perfect espresso.

Less stackable, more equilibrium of tastes

The external shape of the New Tasters Cup is designed in a way which makes it difficult to stack it in more than two rows. This is how all the cups reach the optimum temperature which is necessary to keep the gustative equilibrium of the beverage. Even the barista who does not know it will naturally follow this simple rule, thus automatically eliminating a frequent mistake made during preparation.

Elliptical bottom for a more persistent cream

The internal shape of the cup materially influences the formation of the cream. Actually it is mainly made up of fibres and fats which are in the coffee: when the espresso drips from the spout to end up in the cup, the convective movements inside of it make these components, along with the aromas of the coffee, surface. A flat or cone-shaped bottom hinder these movements, which are on the contrary favour by the elliptical interior. The New Taster Cup is designed to optimise this stage which gives a finer and more persistent to the sight cream with greater formation of the prestigious stripe-effect and with a more powerful aroma.

Clear level, no more extraction levels

In the New Taster Cup an internal mark indicates the optimum extraction level for the espresso: 25 millilitres. Not only no more short or too watered espresso but it also makes it easier for the barista to regulate the grinding: fixing extraction at 25 millilitres in 25 seconds is an easy criterion to avoid mistakes of over-extraction or under-extraction, burning the coffee or not extracting enough its aromatic or tactile potential. The internal mark makes this easier allowing the barista to keep the correctness of the grinding and of the pressing monitored at each extraction.

Brighter white, nicer cream

In order to correctly assess the colour of the cream of the espresso, the cup must be white inside. The super-white porcelain with which the New Taster Cup is made is something new on the Italian stage, to the extent that if you put it next to the traditional cups the latter look grey and opaque. The perfect and brilliant white of the porcelain make the most of the reflections of the cream of a good espresso and of the brightness of its surface. This is not nothing, given that consumers makes assessments especially with their eyes.

Lighter, more elegant

Following a trend from tasting glasses designed for wines, the New Taster Cup weights 27% less than the previous model. This conveys a sensation of greater elegance and makes it easier to hold the cup thus allowing the taster to better focus on the sensations.

Varying thickness, more non-conductivity

The reduced weight does not mean that the New Taster Cup is thin to the point that it does not ensure that the right temperature is maintained. The secret is in the varying thickness, greater towards the bottom where the espresso is contained and lower towards the top with which the lips come into contact. This makes it possible to fully exploit the non-conductive nature of the porcelain, an excellent thermal insulating material, without making the lips feel a sensation of thickness.

More room at the top, wider aromas

Just as with wine glasses, also the cup must not be filled up to the edge: it is necessary to leave enough room at the top, meaning room for the aromas to set free from the liquid and concentrate in the air so as to be directed towards the nose. More room at the top allows for the aromas to become wider: this is the reason why in the New Tasters Cup it has been increased by 10%. This, together with the internal shape of the upper part of the cup, makes it possible to better perceive certain aromatic notes.

Greater hygiene, more aromatic freshness

Even when the tasting phase is over, the way in which the cup is treated is important for the correctness of the following assessment. A critical aspect of the hygiene of the cup is the bottom: if it is not adequately designed, there is the risk that the washing-up powder from the dishwasher might pile up. The detergent then drips on the border when the cup is removed from the dishwasher and placed on the cup warmer. The New Taster Cup features some grooves designed to make any residual washing powder flow away completely.

The New Taster Cup vs the previous model

The data clearly show that the same espresso, tasted in the New Taster Cup, appears to be nicer than when tasted in the previous model, with an Edonic Index of 7.70 vs 6.78. The reasons for this lay in a number of factors: first of all, the appearance of the cream, the colour of which shows out better in the super-white porcelain. At a tactile level, the espresso has more body, due to the cream being formed in an optimal way and to volume control, which optimises extraction. The bitterness is less sharp and the aromas are valued, especially the prestigious spicy notes ranging from rhubarb to liquorice and which convey a precious note to the sensations persisting in the mouth.
The New Taster Cup highlights huge differences compared to the previous one also at the level of the visual and tactile impact of the object itself. The colour strikes more than the previous one and makes it stand out compared to the more wide-spread cups. Overall, it’s more elegant and stylish even if its shape can still be defined as classic, It’s deemed to be more modern and ‘cheerful’. At the touch, it gives more pleasant sensations due to its being lighter. It’s easier to hold, the shape and the surface have been improved. Finally, its border conveys a sensation of enhanced fineness to the lips. Despite the fineness, use at the coffee shop too is recommended.

Call them, if you wish, details

by Roberto Sala

Barista. His bar, the Mary’s Bar in Costa Masnaga, in the North of Italy, was set up by his great-grandparents in 1928. He was brought up surrounded by machines, bags and cups. Fifteen years ago he started his job behind the counter: from 2001, he is a coffee taster and Espresso Italiano Specialist.In February 2007, he has been appointed to the board of the International Institute of Coffee Tasters. He is the first barista who has been appointed to such a role.

Every day I pull up and down the shutter of my bar: we do this in my family ever since 1928. It’s now been 15 years since I started working behind the counter and preparing espressos and cappuccinos for those who, stopping by in this small town of mine in the North of Italy, decide to take a break or for the people who live here and regularly come to see me because they see my bar a part, so to say, an extra room, of their own house.

I love this job. And I like to do it thoroughly. Every single detail is important. This is the reason why I want to begin this column by speaking about the importance of details, which, at the end of the day, are not really details in that they make the difference between a skilled barista and a less skilled one.

Let us consider, for example, the resins of the softner. If they are not regenerated, as time goes by, the limestone will damage the mechanical components of the machine. In my bar I have a manual softner. I had an electronic one but I replaced it because I was not satisfied with its results. With the manual one I am using, I must devote at least one hour per week to its maintenance, a reason for which being that if the machine does not work properly, the coffee is less creamy. What sort of espresso is an espresso with a cream that does not deserve that name?

As I already said, details are important. The bell of the coffee grinder is often abandoned to the fat component of the coffee which coats it little by little with an opaque layer. Cleaning it is not simple because it is necessary to be careful and completely remove the oxidised fat otherwise the cup of coffee will be rancid. Normally, I use warm water and smell-less detergent – this is extremely important because I do not want to have in the air aromas other than those of the coffee.

Here is another detail: the steam wand. This is an important message to the client. First of all, at the level of the image you give, it is really annoying to see all those, too many actually, encrusted steam wands. It is also, and especially, important from the sensory point of view: if a wand encrusted with milk from a previous cappuccino is used for a new one how can the milk be whipped without leaving in it unpleasant aromas?

Mere details? Well, preparing an espresso is about details. Here are some other details. When I open a bag of coffee the first thing I do is observe the shape of the beans and sense their aromas. It is best to let it “breathe” for a while and not use it immediately. After one hour, approximately, I can put it in the machine. It goes without saying that I taste it personally to check the quality. The visual characteristics can be monitored for each espresso, while the gustatory sensations, the olfactory ones which are perceived directly and those which are perceived at the back of the mouth must be monitored all throughout the day. Indeed, many conditions can vary and have a negative impact on the sensory effect of the espresso. The basic parameters must, of course, always be kept under control: the pressure of the machine at 9 atmospheres, the water must be injected in the group at 88°C and the 7-gram dose of coffee must give in 25 seconds precisely 25 millimetres of espresso.

Some people might think that it is nothing more than an espresso. Some others might as well believe that the attention devoted to the very details in the preparation of the cappuccino is a gross exaggeration. Nonetheless, it is all about this: it is all the details that make the cup unique for our client. Otherwise, it is just a bit of ground coffee that undergoes a certain pressure. And so much for the pleasure of coffee.