Making outstanding coffee is alchemy is as much art as science.
There are countless variables: the barista, their technique, the machine, grinder, humidity, air temperature, grind-setting, temperature and pressure of the water. And the beans, of course — how recently they’ve been roasted, the wash method, country of origin and how they’re blended together to meet milk.
But so much of that is invisible. You see your friendly inked, bearded barista and need to know: can I trust the coffee he’s making?
My rule of thumb is this: a good barista cares about the product they make and coffee buffs vote with their feet and wallet.
So here’s my method to discern the good barista from the bad: watch the tamp.
Wot’s that then?