It takes 1 to 3 months to gain basic skills to be a barista. From ability to change the settings on the grinder, steam milk, control temperatures, and recognise when an espresso is properly extracted. A novice barista should minimally understand the basic flavours of espresso but to be a proficient one, and a junior barista at that, it can take up to 12 months to prepare a solid cuppa with regular consistency. Well, most of us don’t have that kind of time, and thankfully the existence of De’Longhi’s coffee machines means we don’t have to learn. Augustman took to opportunity to visit De’Longhi’s Coffee Experience where they demonstrated the Art of the Brew at Tang Plaza.
Comprising three zones, The Beans, The Brewing Method and The Coffee Corner, De’Longhi is providing Singaporean caffeine addicts more than their daily fix, but also a deeper understanding of the beans which provide our impetus and drive to power through manic Mondays.
Hosted by Apple Lim, De’Longhi’s barista ambassador, I’m guided through a De’Longhi questionnaire which develops my coffee drinking profile and then we’re off to the De’Longhi experience where we learned that the coffee plant, and the beans it produced, were first discovered in Ethiopia in the 10th century.
Considered as an alternative to alcohol, Arabian traders quickly spread the seeds (no pun intended) of this exciting new beverage throughout the Arabian Peninsula. The earliest term for the drink of coffee was the Arabic word “qahwah”, which actually referred to a type of wine.
The Ottoman Turks then used the term “kahve”, which was followed by the Dutch word “koffie”, from which the English name was derived in 1582. By the 15th century, coffee cultivation and trade was booming and while there are over 100 coffee species, the main varieties we encounter are Arabica, Robusta and Liberica.
Zone 1: The Beans
- Oval shaped, flat and dark, Arabica beans are the coffee most Singaporeans who indulge in their daily cuppa at a cafe or chain outlet. Light to medium bodied (depending on brewing technique), Arabica beans create a delicate, smooth and fruity brew.
- Circular shaped, pale and dry, the breed of Robusta is the unsung hero and backbone of the country. The mainstay of kopitiams (Singapore-speak for Coffee shop), Robusta beans are bitter, earthy, grainy and when consumed in a cup of Kopi Gao Kosong, the nutty and chocolatey notes bring out the aroma of the coffee while providing you a significantly higher caffeine kick than your cafe-standard Arabica.
- Large and teardrop-shaped, Liberica beans are pretty rare, making up most of the remaining 2% of produced coffee. Since its cultivation requires a certain climate, it mostly grows in Africa and Asia, neighbouring Philippines are one of the biggest producers of Liberica. Bitter top-notes with a hint of floral and spice, the slightly smokey light to medium-bodied Liberica is similar to taste in Robusta. It has a slightly lower caffeine concentration than the two popular Arabica and Robusta breeds.
Zone 2: The Brewing Method
More familiar with the backs of coffee machines than the front, eyes widened as I approached Zone 2 where we were introduced to the beautiful chrome and steel “true Barista dream” that is La Specialista Prestigio, the technologically sophisticated, bluetooth connected Dinamica Plus and the fuss-free Dedica Style Metal.
While the Dinamica is the only automatic coffee machine of the three, the Dedica pump espresso machine is still extremely user friendly despite the requirement to manually “tamp” your coffee powder. User-friendly controls by way of three buttons to set style of espresso are the three main controls you have to think about on the ultra-slim 15cm wide De’Longhi Dedica Style Manual Espresso Machine. Taking a minimal footprint on your kitchen countertop, the adjustable milk frother allows you to adjust the foam and steam levels to customise a variety of delicious espresso-based drinks with minimal effort.
Essentially, the successful brewing of roasted coffee depends on percolation that results in extraction: water flowing though a porous medium, like roasted and ground coffee, extracts soluble substances. The degree of extraction of soluble coffee substances depends on the grind (coarse, medium, fine), water temperature, pressure, and the time for which the coffee is allowed to brew.
The Dinamica and La Specialista Prestigio are factory set to grind the beans at 5 (coarse) but the ideal setting is 2.5 to 3, somewhat medium to fine, and Apple explains that too fine and the your coffee is less than ideal. Created for coffee lovers, La Specialista Prestigio offers both hands-on experience and all the tools you need to consistently and conveniently craft delicious barista-quality coffee.
With 3 temperature settings to cater to different roasts levels and give you the best extraction and Dynamic pre-infusion for optimal distribution of water no matter the amount of coffee dosage, La Specialista Prestigio gives you the potential for the most optimum cup of brew you will ever have outside of a specialist cafe.
Zone 3: The Coffee Corner
Having begun my undergraduate studies in the Art of the Brew, Apple leads me to the last stop of my De’Longhi experience, The Coffee Corner. The profile which I pre-filled before I started the tour analysed my preferences and selected a cup of cappuccino.
Using the Dinamica Plus, Apple uses a smartphone app and programs the machine with my preferences. Delivering excellent precision in grind fineness for optimal espresso extraction with De’Longhi’s patented adjustable grinding technology and variable brewing unit, De’Longhi’s bean to cup coffee machine allowed me to have the best in-cup experience with MyMenu customisation and Coffee Link App.
Using the LatteCrema System, Apple put together a creamy cappuccino with velvety dense foam ensuring perfect flavour and mouthfeel in my little afternoon dose. Taking my through the different coffee types ranging from latte to espresso, she paired my tasting experience with 3 different grades of chocolate from milky to dark.
Ready for a coffee adventure? There’s no better guide than De’Longhi, Book your complimentary experience at De’Longhi’s Coffee Lounge here. Limited time only, available from now through 26 September at Tangs @ B1 Tang Plaza