Here at Neat, we are pretty particular about our coffee and for Lee, our chief coffee expert, only the best would do when it came to deciding what to serve at the Neat café. For him there was only one choice - Ozone, the expert coffee roasters from New Zealand.
Yesterday morning we headed to their roastery and coffee bar on Leonard Street for a lesson with their head trainer, Anson, on how to make the perfect cup of coffee... and it turns out there is a lot more to it than you might think! So we thought we’d share a little bit of the wisdom we learnt from Ozone, so that you know exactly what’s going on behind the scenes when we make your favourite flat white with almond milk at the cafe:
The first fact that blew our minds was that coffee is actually a green-coloured seed, not a bean, that grows just under a cherry fruit on trees in the tropics, as it needs year-round sunshine for growing and drying. It is then roasted to unlock the flavour, where it doubles in size and gets it's caramelised colour.
Crucially, not all coffee is created equal and has a different flavour depending on the environment in which it's grown. Graded on it’s aroma, acidity, balance and taste profile, it is given a score between 0-100. A score of above 80 means it is a ‘speciality grade’ coffee; anything else is commercial.
Ozone is a speciality roaster, and the blend we use is their flagship espresso blend: Empire. It is produced by farmers in Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala and Ethiopia, and “pack(s) as much sweetness, chocolate & caramel into an espresso as possible, along with the most, rich, smoothly silky body achievable.”
To make the perfect coffee using their Empire Blend, the grind size is very important... it's like comparing how water runs through rocks in a bucket with how it runs through sand! 18g of ground coffee is spread evenly in the espresso ‘basket’ to get a consistent flavour, and tampered firmly. If the grind size is just right, the espresso will run through the machine for 26-29 seconds - it's that precise!
When it comes to the milk, it's all about ‘texturing’ – spinning it inside the jug and controlling the bubbles to create more, smaller bubbles rather than making a foam. Holding the jug flat, and slightly to the left or right, the idea is to lower the steamer to add air to the milk and stretch it, doing this for 2 seconds for a flat white, 3 seconds for a latte and 4 for a cappuccino.
Lastly the tricky part – the latte art. This one comes down to practice and it’s safe to say Anson made it look a lot easier than it was, showing us all up!
So there you have it, how to make the perfect cup of Ozone coffee using their Empire Blend, although luckily for you, we’re at hand at the Cafe to do all the hard-work for you!