The best Cappuccino in South Africa
Let’s face it, a coffee is not just a coffee, for many of us a coffee has become part of life. Whether you are someone that simply can’t function until you have had that morning cup, or someone that loves the social aspect of using coffee as a great excuse to get together with others, coffee has its place in your life. It can be the cherry on top of an enjoyable meal or literally leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth. But are we really enjoying coffee in the way it is made to be enjoyed or are we simply accepting what is offered to us because neither we, nor the one presenting it, knows any better?
So what does it take to make the best cappuccino in South Africa?
Who better to ask than the winner of the best cappuccino award in South Africa for 2011 and 2012. I had the privilege of drinking the smoothest cappuccino I have ever experienced, made by the gifted hands of Mikhael Bou Rjeily. Followed by embarking on an enjoyable barista course as Mikhael shared his knowledge with myself and 11 other would-be coffee baristas.
During the course Mikhael, who’s passion it is to awaken the world as to the truths behind a great coffee as opposed to a good (or dare I say bad) coffee, educates people as to the do’s and dont’s of cappuccino making.Before I share just some of the secrets he taught me let me first share Mikhael’s equally as interesting story.
In early 2006 Mikhael’s desire was to pursue a career as a barman so he applied for several bar jobs, one of which was actually in a coffee shop. When he got the call for an interview, having no knowledge of coffee or how to make it, other than how to drink it, he thought it best to do a little research. Google to the rescue, pages and pages of printed info and 24 hours later, with a head ready to explode, he went for his interview. Even with his new found knowledge it was clear that he had no experience in coffee making, but in a strange twist of fate Joseph el Khouri, (5th place runner up in the World barista championship 2005)and Mikhael’s soon to be new boss, liked it that way. Joseph found it easier to teach someone that came without any bad habits or ideals, and the proof of that theory was certainly in the coffee. Just 5 months later Mikhael went on to become the 3rd place runner up in the National barista championship in Lebanon 2006.
His achievements since then have included:
Working as the head of the Western Cape barista academy for Woolworths.
Winner of BestCappuccinoandBest Espressoin Western Cape Barista Championship 2011
Winner of Best CappuccinoandBest Espressoawards in Western Cape Barista Championship 2012
Winner of best technical performance Award in South Africa (National Barista Championship 2012)
Winner ofbest CappuccinoAward in South Africa (National Barista Championship 2012)
So what does the coffee guru of South Africa have to say about the art of cappuccino?
Freshness:Coffee is best enjoyed within 7- 30 days of the beans being roasted, and even that is if they have been packed and sealed properly. Much of the coffee that we buy from supermarkets today has gone through a distribution and storage process that we end up drinking coffee 3-6 months and even longer after it has been roasted.
Cleanliness:A clean coffee machine, which is flushed through after every single coffee, will produce the best coffee. Watch to see next time someone makes you a coffee how often they flush the machine through, and how well they clean the portafilter.
Water:Considering the biggest ingredient of a cup of coffee is water it is important to make sure that a clean and or filtered water source is being used.
Temperature:The temperature of the water should ideally be at 85 – 94(C).The temperature of the milk should be between 45 – 55(C) many people end up burning the milk, a great cappuccino should never burn your tongue with that all-important first sip.
Espresso volume:The freshly ground coffee should always be evenly compacted in the portafilter so that coffee resistance to water releases all the necessary oils that contribute to a balance in sweetness, acidity and pleasant bitterness in espresso flavor . The volume of a single espresso should be 25-35ml. If you have done this correctly, at the right temperature, with fresh coffee beans, then the espresso’s crema should be orangey brown in colour rather than beige or yellow colour.
I can personally testify to the difference this makes, having always wanted to drink a straight espresso and trying so many times, yet put off by the bitter taste of it. I made one last attempt at the inviting espresso that Mikhael had made for me. It was the perfect cream colour, and smooth and silky to the taste buds. This is how an espresso is meant to be enjoyed!!!
A skilled baristawho understands the flavour profile of coffee:Whilst I hope the information above will take your coffee experience to new heights, it is only training and practice that will take you to a place of making the perfect cappuccino, for yourself and your guest to enjoy.
I can’t recommend enough that you try out one of Mikhael’s training courses. The costs of his courses are more than reasonable, especially when you consider the expertise behind them. Mikhael’s company, Coffee Initiative, trains across Cape Town, Jo,burg and Durban, but if you are ever in Sea Point then it is well worth a visit to his new coffee shop where the guru himself will make you the best cappuccino in the world.
For more information go to coffeeinitiative.co.za, or call Mikhael on 0725638090.