I was sleepless. I was so PUMPED and excited that I couldn’t sleep. I was just laying in the bed starring at my cell phones display (I use my cell as my alarm). And when it turned to 12:05 AM things became embarrassingly clear to me that somehow I got the dates messed up in my head. I thought I was supposed to be at Counter Culture at 09:00 hours sharp this morning for basic barista training in Durham, NC. The problem is the training that I had been graciously given access to was on the 4th of October and it was the 6th. The 4th isn’t Saturday – the 4th was two days ago! I was humiliated, frustrated and mad. I got up out of the bed and went directly to my Gmail account to email Lydia Troxler, the scheduler for CC, about how sorry I was. I spent the next two hours figuring out what I was going to do today.
I went to http://www.indiecoffeeshops.com/ and started browsing around the greater RDU area and after reviewing several independent shop’s web sites attempting to get a feel for what I was going to receive in quality when I showed up the next day. After looking very hard at four of them, I decided on visiting two shops: Pheasant Creek Coffee & Tea and Crema Coffee Roasters. I was INTENT on getting a fantastic experience after letting myself down so poorly.
I Google Mapped the dickens out of both, even from one shop to the other. This morning I jumped into my 2007 Impala SS and proceeded to enjoy the 01:15 ride to Cary, NC to experience Crema Coffee Roasters where I met Regina, one of the owners. I introduced myself and expressed that I was thinking of opening my own shop in the greater Goldsboro area (oh no, I let it slip) and she graciously and almost immediately invited me behind her counter where the La Marzocco FB/80 with black trim resided. I strangely felt like I belonged right there and I do mean right there. I was taken by it’s beauty and it’s modern approach. It reminded me of my car!
In came Kevin. We were introduced and Kevin quickly took me under his wing. It didn’t take long for him to offer me to take a pull. I told him, actually reiterated to him, that I had never, ever stood behind a professional or home machine. I was as virgin as the chicks with the lamps in the parable in Matthew 25. I will NEVER forget the look on that man’s face. Astonishment, unbelief, ect. He just couldn’t believe me.
What can I say. I was not nervous, at all. But, then again, I don’t get nervous singing or speaking in front of 2,000 people either. I literally felt like I had done it one thousand times, but inside me I knew that I hadn’t done it even once. It wasn’t cockiness on my part, but rather knowing the process after watching it done by professionals on YouTube, ZacharyZachary and other places literally hundreds of times; not to mention the amount of study I had undertaken. But, he really didn’t believe me. Shannon at Coffee & Crema told me when he first met me he thought I was a shop owner scoping him out just from my examination method with his crema. So, I guess I can understand Kevin’s thinking. At the invitation of the owner, I just walked up and grabbed the portafilter of the La Marzocco FB/80 and gave it a tug to the left expecting it to come right out. It didn’t move. In my mind, I had pondered that moment many, many times in the past. For some reason I should have known it would take a weight shift to move it. Kevin instantly knew that I was serious and I really didn’t know anything about the mechanics, just the book knowledge. He helped me with the mechanics of dosing with the Mazzer Super Jolly Grinder. I tamped with all my might (read here: booboo) and fitted the portafilter in it’s place in the FB/80 and hit the button on that auto and watched a fast shot, probably around 16 to 18 seconds. It was blond, purty and there was plenty of crema. But it was too fast, probably four or five seconds to fast. And it showed in the cup.
But, I liked the way it tasted. I liked my first shot. It didn’t taste as good as Kevin’s, Regina’s or Shannon’s, yet it was good. But, much, improvement is necessary and after about six shots I know my weakness: #1 and foremost is tamping and secondly is dosing. The dosing is easy to fix, but the tamping will take time.
I want to sincerely thank the folks at Crema Coffee for letting me spend some generous time behind the counter with them on a slow and sleepy Saturday. Hey, I even got to see the (in)famous Esmeralda . Note I said “SEE.”
Gotta run for dinner!