Making the perfect coffee is a blend of both art and science – but it’s rarely mastered. Here is Time Out’s hot shot guide to conjuring the black magic
Know your beans
Most Melbourne beans come from high-quality Arabica or high-yielding Robusta. Most Australians have milk coffee, so they need a stronger Robusta bean for flavour and the fresher the coffee, the better the taste and aroma. To ensure peak freshness, baristas keep oxygen, heat, humidity and sunlight in check.
Go to press
Each 7g espresso shot is pressed with a pestle-like tool called a tamper, so water slows as it drips and extracts more flavour. Use force from shoulder to wrist to compact the grinds.
Perfect froth takes a steady hand. Aerate the surface, creating a soft hissing. Lower the jug, ever so slightly, and continue the sound flow until you’re at 40°. Then swirl (aka texturing) until you hit 65°. Too fast and you get milkshake bubbles. Bang out any remaining bubbles and spin for shine.
The perfect shot
The perfect 30ml shot should take 30 seconds to pour. Any longer and the coffee grinds will burn. Any faster and the water isn’t stripping enough oils off the grinds, resulting in weak flavour. Adjust the grinder to a coarser or finer grind.
Pour the frothiest drink (cappuccino) first. Then pour the latte a little slower in the centre of the cup till there’s 10ml of froth 1cm over the rim. Swirl before pouring each and then (if you must) add your design.