Coffee is ever-evolving and, as one of the most cherished commodities in the world, there remains an abundance to learn. As consumers and lovers of coffee our preferences have been rapidly changing too, and it seems like every year a new coffee shop crops up with passionate employees chasing down the perfect cup of coffee.  Most of us remember our parents (or younger selves) drinking simple brew coffee or even instant, but these days the average person might have a pour-over, scale, burr grinder, and gooseneck kettle to get the day started. This means, as coffee professionals, we must bring our A-game so we can at least stay as informed as our customers. Seriously, you guys are really raising the bar.

     Brian Erickson is a familiar face for many of our Washington regulars. He is behind the bar most week day mornings, and after almost a decade of working in the coffee industry he continues to expand his abilities as a barista. This past September, Pablo’s sent him to barista camp where he interacted and learned from some of the best baristas in the country. He came home excited and ready to implement his new found knowledge with the rest of the staff.

     Brian likes to brew beer in his spare time which made the chemistry of brewing coffee easy for him to understand and explain. We have really fantastic machines but there are a lot of variables we are able to change that impact the taste of our coffee. The simplest and maybe most important change he has been experimenting with is the grind size of the espresso. You may have heard of the superiority of the burr grinder which grinds the coffee into uniform pieces allowing for an even dispersion of water. A courser grind will have water pass through at a quicker rate, while a finer grind will slow water down. Adjusting the grind by a tiny amount can dramatically change how a shot tastes and even looks. Most baristas have to change their grind throughout the day so getting it to the perfect spot can seem elusive.

     In addition to experimenting with espresso variables, Brian has been learning the importance of machine maintenance. Obviously, having an efficient grinder is important and replacing the burrs and cleaning can help prolong the life of expensive equipment.  He has been diligently working to make a new education program in which Pablo’s employees and businesses who serve Pablo’s coffee can attend workshops where they can improve the coffee experience. He covers everything from latte art, to espresso machine maintenance, to the importance of customer service, and everything in between. He has been tireless at changing the pressure, time, grind, and other variables to make our espresso even better. He knows that after nine years there is still a lot he can learn but he has accumulated enough knowledge to teach.

     Coffee trends come and go, but one thing that we think is here to stay is the informed consumer. In the digital age anyone can brush up on their coffee talk and become an amateur aficionado. We are impressed daily by our customer’s research and thoughtfulness in our product. We hope to continue to grow and improve the quality of our service and product, and we are excited to have enthusiastic baristas interested in educating themselves and others about coffee.