Mastering the art of the perfect coffee

Illy espresso cupsIlly barista

It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time when I never drank coffee. I loved the smell of it, but not the taste. Today, I still drink more tea than coffee (I so moved to the right country), but I now love a nice cappuccino in the morning or a strong espresso after dinner. Fortunately, London is not all about tea anymore and you will find a great coffee place on almost every corner.

But being still a bit of a newbie when it comes to coffee, I was very excited to be invited by EspressoCrazy to the illy University of Coffee where all baristas in the UK are being trained to serve the perfect illy espresso.

Illy coffee machineIlly machine

Marco, the Head of Quality for illy coffee in the UK, explained and showed us what makes a good coffee. Did you know that the best coffees are naturally lowest in caffeine? The first coffee he let us try was even a decaffeinated espresso, and I thought that tasted amazing. And what a difference the extraction time makes! The fast one tasted all watery, where as the slow one could have easily kept me awake for a week if I wouldn’t have tasted just one sip.

And then it was time to make our own coffee. The professional machine looks pretty impressive and immediately brought me back 15 years when I was working in a restaurant and had to make I-don’t-know-how-many coffees a night. I could do this!

Illy universityIlly espresso

But then the tricky part… The milk. Or: how to froth your milk into the perfect foam and then pour the right part of the milk in the cup. Preferably making some sort of flower or hart shape as you go along. Sure…

Apparently if you do a bad cappuccino you make a latte and vice versa. They explained the ice cube method to us (leave the ice cubes/foam in the jug for a latte or let them out for a cappuccino), which is a nice theory but not as easy to do I soon discovered. But with a little guidance I did ok.  And then you use the most creamy milk at the bottom of the jug for a perfect macchiato.

coffee artcoffee cocktail

After we all made our own cappuccino, latte and macchiato, using both the professional and ‘home’ espresso machine (which in the end does exactly the same), they had one final surprise for us. Espresso martini! I think I prefer my coffee ‘martini style’ from now on.

It was such a great evening and I can’t wait to start practicing my barista skills with my new illy machine. If you’re interested in buying your own illy machine or coffee, EspressoCrazy is offering a 20% discount until 10 January 2014 (max 3 items per order, UK only) if you use this link.