Counter Culture Coffee Cappuccino Latte Art

Espresso Love, Part 1

“She gets the sun in the daytime
Perfume in the dusk
And she comes out in the night time
With the honeysuckle musk
Because she smells just like a rose
And she tastes just like a peach
She got me walking where the wildlife goes
I’d do anything to reach her”
Mark Knopfler, Dire Straits, “Expresso Love”

Friday afternoon was a highlight along my journey through separation, divorce, healing, and rediscovery. I participated in a 3-hour “Espresso at Home” class ($150) with Counter Culture trainer Jenna Gotthelf at their state-of-the-art training center in New York City, and it was unbelievable! Jenna is not just any trainer, she’s gifted to teach, passionate about her craft, and her coffee knowledge and experience is backed by her national ranking as a US barista competitor.

What inspired me to enroll in an espresso class? It is about rediscovering who I am and what I want to be, about learning and developing a passion that’s been there for a long-time, and about investing in experiences that will influence me to become a better me. For $150 and 3 hours of class time, I made an investment in me that will yield infinite returns. And at 55, I am not too old to learn, or too old to improve and refine a craft, and during the espresso class, I was like a little kid in a toy store.

My journey with coffee started when I met my now ex-wife 18 years ago. She was a coffee lover, I was not. To impress her when dating, I bought a Krups blade grinder (bad), Starbucks whole bean coffee (bad), and a Capresso drip coffee machine (ok). Fast forward to about 2005, and I invested in a home barista setup, including a Mazzer Mini burr grinder (good) for about $900 and a Quickmill Andreja Premium single-boiler, heat exchanger prosumer espresso machine (good) for about $1,800, plus accessories (scale, tamper, cups, frothing pitcher). Counter Culture’s artisan coffee became my coffee of choice – CC partners with small farms, focuses on sustainability and offers organic coffee, lighter roasts, and ensures the coffee is shipped within days of the roast date for freshness.

Fast forward again, this time to 2018. My beloved Mazzer grinder and Andreja Premium espresso machine sat on the shelf, not having been used for several years. The rediscovery process, following separation and divorce, included rekindling some of my passions, one of which is to learn how to craft excellent espresso and cappuccino. I had to dust off my machines, enroll in a class, and buy coffee. A few weekends ago, I disassembled the grinder, cleaned it, and re-assembled the machine. I carefully packed the espresso machine (weighs about 65 lbs), and shipped it to the original distributor Chris Coffee for repairs (although the machine turned on, it wouldn’t build the necessary pressure). Their service department repaired and bench-tested the machine, and it’s back in my kitchen and good to go.

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon in class learning from Jenna all about espresso at home, including the entire coffee supply chain from seed to cup, flavor profiles, what variables make good and bad coffee, and all about the process, techniques, and equipment to craft excellent espresso. She demo’ed how to make espresso and cappuccino (including latte art), and then each of the students had their turn under her guidance and watchful eye. We all have watched lots of “how-to” YouTube videos, there is nothing like being in a small class with a professional who has a gift for teaching, is super patient, not watching the clock, and shares her passion and knowledge openly with her students. And being able to “play” with high-end commercial equipment is absolutely sick ($20,000 LaMazorcco espresso machine, anyone?). One of my class-mates filmed me on my phone so that I could replay portions of the lesson when I am home with my grinder and espresso machine.

It was late afternoon, and the sun started to decline, as I left Counter Culture’s training center in New York City to make my way home. I picked up a bag of coffee beans before I left, and CC includes a free, trial subscription in the course cost. I couldn’t wait to start practicing at home. There was so much I learned, yet so much still to learn, and so much gained, practically and emotionally, from this experience. Onward with my journey.

Please leave me a comment, ask any questions, and let’s engage in a conversation about how to create positive experiences, develop passions, and influence our future “me”. Thank you!

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