Barista Essentials: Machine setup, maintenance and mind-blowing long blacks.

We took a few moments to talk to our beloved Retail Manager at Glee, Juzzy Smith, about  setting up a barista shift, daily machine maintenance and making killer long blacks.

What are the first things you do when you front up for a coffee shift? 

JS: Make a coffee! First thing's first: Get the espresso machine cranking, pull some seasoning shots and set the grind. It's important to see how the coffee is pouring, taking into account the weather, temperature and age of the beans. Once I have it singing, I make one for myself and set up the milk side of things. I get out fresh bottles of milk, and pop clean jugs on the bench ready for the first rush. I also double check my chocolate/chai powder/sugar stock is full and in easy reach. A clean, organised workspace is the key to a relaxed barista, making delicious coffee at quantity, without compromising quality. Once the machine area is set, I make sure the rest of the cafe is looking good and ready to go. 

“A clean, organised workspace is the key to a relaxed barista.

How often should the machine be back-flushed during the day? 

JS: Purging before each shot means that the shower screen stays pretty clean, so it's not a necessity to back flush every hour. However, it's a great habit to get into. Side-note: Group head purging also helps pull through the even-temperature water. This ensures that your grounds don't get scolded by overheated water, which narrows the flavour during extraction. Use any down time to clean and reset your area. You can do a fresh rinse and a quick back-flush, using a group head brush to clean around the seals. Obviously, a chemical clean at the end of each day is a MUST for emulsifying left over coffee oils that will go rancid overnight and affect the flavour of the coffee your machine makes.

What are a few keys for making a mind-blowing long black?

JS: There are a few things to remember when making a great long black. Long blacks are best on a double ristretto (DR). Using a restrained espresso shot means that you get all the depth and the sweetness (caramel, fruit flavours) without being overwhelmed by the intensity of a fully extracted shot. 

I always taste the many varieties of coffee we serve (milk/black/short) and be aware of how each method is tasting and when, as a certain age of the beans combined with a particular roast profile can equal a different result. A long black might taste better when the shot is a little more restricted when compared to a slightly quicker shot, and vice-versa, depending on all your variables (tamp/dosage/grind). In a nutshell, restriction is your friend when it comes to long blacks. A 40ml double-ristretto in around the 25-35 second range is a great ball-park to start in. It's there you'll get a full, sweet shot that is rich in coffee oils and low in bitterness. 

Hint: Experiment with fining up the grind, dosing lower, tamping harder and pulling a longer extraction to get more delicate flavours from a double ristretto.

"In a nutshell, restriction is your friend when it comes to long blacks."

Juzzy Smith on the tools

Juzzy Smith on the tools

Justin (Juzzy) Smith is a key part of Glee Team. Starting off as a Barista in our Erina Heights store 3 years ago, Juzzy went on to manage the store and did such a killer job that he is now the retail manager across our 3 stores and pop-up cart. He's an exceptional barista, manager and occasional roaster and well-loved by everyone at Glee and a swag of our regulars. When he's not in-store or working on something behind the scenes at Glee you'll find him hanging with his new son, Noah, and wife Katie, or playing his guitar. You can follow Juzzy on Instagram here.