Be a barista at Lot Sixty One

Be a barista at Lot Sixty One

Mar 7, 2014 |  by  |  Food
About the author
I'm a food stylist, like pugs and doomcore and will buy a book twice if I like the edition. My favourite thing about Amsterdam is its windows and a certain house on the gracht where people read and plans are hatched by candlelight.

Perhaps I’m a little behind the curve in adding my observations to those already growing stale surrounding the Rise of the Barista, but then not all observers have had the vantage point I enjoyed last Friday: behind the barista’s bar for a two hour workshop. This was on a Friday in a city where at the best of times it’s hard to tell what people do for a living because they’re always out having coffee, let alone on Fridays where even if these people do work during the week, they certainly don’t on Fridays.

Control freaks

Why the meander into the social set up of Amsterdam working life? Because on that same morning I learned how, for baristas, time off means people and people means good for business but not good for: grinding the right grade of coffee, weighing coffee, timing coffee drip, controlling how hot milk gets, controlling when milk gets hot, controlling how frothy milk is and oh, did you want soy milk with the coffee I just made you with regular milk?

Everything seems to matter and if it’s precision you’re after, everything seems to get that little bit harder when you’re having to listen to someone tell you how insane Putin is.

I also learnt that everything seems to matter. Where the beans are from, how and how long ago they’ve been roasted and whether they’re a blend or not is only the tip of the iceberg. The other ¾ require the barista to use scales, pressure gauges, good timing and iPhone apps (optional). Smile also optional.

Barista to be?

Our barista in command was Adam, owner of Lot Sixty One and purveyor of (what I think) the best coffee in Amsterdam. We started with a short but heavy summary of how the different components of the coffee making process relate to one another. How the size of the coffee grind will determine the intensity of flavour, how equally, the pressure with which the water is forced through the grinds will change the end result and how to make the dripping coffee appear thick and viscous. This was going on in-between orders and re-orders being made and the housekeeping necessary to keep such a tiny place functioning.

Next up: the milk. How far down you push the steamer and for how long you keep it there, the bubbles, their size, allowing the milk to slip out from under them, the tilt of the cup, ‘choosing the spot’ where you’re going to hit said cup and let the foam tumble out. The result: too milky a coffee where the milk drifts around like a broken balloon that’s also been run over. So much for my latte art then. We try again. And again. And then three more times on mini cappuccinos where the idea is, because we’re working on espresso cup scale, we need to be – magic word – precise. “Make three dots”. I manage. Apparently I have a good ‘free pour’. From the looks of it, too free, and that’s without anyone talking to me let alone my having to remember orders… But then again maybe it’s because of all the coffee I’ve been drinking.

Lot Sixty One Coffee Roasters

Where: Kinkerstraat 112
Online: Facebook page

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