On Converting People To Craft Coffee With Top Hat Espresso Catering Founder & Green Street Coffee Barista Tim Pearson

I always get black coffee because I like tasting the coffee.

Yeah, me too. But with those drink you’re still getting some of that flavor coming through. With the good quality and the freshness of the beans we use, along with preparation…the things that you’re not getting is more important I think than what you are getting. So, you’re not getting a burnt taste that you would get from a really dark roast at Starbucks or Saxby’s–some place like that. You’re going to get burnt flavors [at those places] because the beans are roasted so darkly. That’s going to come through no matter what. With a medium or light roast with the beans that we’re using, there’s really none of that. The bitterness is practically not there. When you eliminate a lot of the defects that you do get from low quality ingredients (coffee) and [poor] preparation, it really highlights all the benefits, like the well steamed milk or the dark chocolate and the coffee flavor combined with those things really steps it up to something else.

For the novice, what do you mean by well-steamed milk?

Like you said, it’s not very well known, but there is a learning curve when you’re steaming milk that takes training and takes experience. When you’re steaming milk, you’re introducing air into milk. There’s a technique to it, from the angle that you hold the pitcher, how much air you’re allowing in the milk, the agitation that you’re getting from the pressure. It’s very technical and hard to explain without doing it. Long story short, when you learn it and do it correctly, it dramatically changes the texture and the taste of the milk.

You put too much air in, you’re basically creating froth.

Right, [with] untrained people or a lot of automatic machines, you’re gonna get hot milk and there’s gonna be bubbles in it–very airy, like sea foam. I’m sure you’re familiar with these things. If you get a cappuccino at Starbucks you’re just gonna get hot milk and coffee with bubbles on top. The idea behind specialty coffee and specialty steamed milk is mixing the air into the milk by kind of making a whirlpool with the steam so there’s no real separation between the air and milk. It’s all kind of one thing. It’s very thick, creamy, hot. It’s also at an appropriate temperature. It’s chemical too. There are sugars in the milk. If it’s steamed too hot, they’ll burn and flatten. So when it’s done correctly, the way it mixes with the espresso, everything becomes one. It’s really something different texturally than just bubbles.

For Top Hat, you’re always using Green Street?

At this time we are.

You said for Top Hat you’re doing espresso based drinks. Do you mean espresso blends?

Preparation. We could use a single origin coffee from Ethiopia. We could use a three bean espresso blend or a Colombian. Doesn’t really matter. I mean it matters, but preparation wise it’s going to be espresso based because it’s coming from an espresso machine.

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