Be honest; do you know what your coffee order actually means? Are you the sort of person who has ordered a flat white every day for the past 10 years without actually understanding what a flat white is? Have you ever wondered why coffee costs as much as it does? Do you have questions that you’ve always been too embarrassed to ask your barista? This article is going to answer some of the frequently asked questions that I’ve received whilst behind the coffee machine at my Adelaide café. It’s also going to tackle some of the common myths that surround coffee and the coffee industry.
Flat White/ Latte/ Cappuccino… What the Difference?
One of the most frequently asked questions that we receive is “what is the difference between a flat white, a latte and a cappuccino?”. Well firstly, they all have the same amount coffee. No one drink is comparatively stronger or weaker in actual caffeine content. Secondly, they all have basically the same amount of milk! The only real difference between the three beverages is the amount of foam in each. Technically speaking (and this will vary depending on who you talk to) a cappuccino has about 2cm of foam, a latte has about 1cm of foam and a flat white has less than 1cm of foam.
Make it Strong!
Another one that I hear quite a bit is ‘I’d like my coffee nice and strong, so can you just run the shot for longer’. Your barista should never, ever run a shot for longer in order to make it stronger. To understand why this is never ok, we must first understand that when we extract a shot of espresso, we are in fact extracting the soluble ‘oils’ from the coffee. Only around 30% of the coffee we put in our group basket is actually soluble. When we extract a coffee shot, we only want to run our shot long enough to extract these oils; any longer and we’ll only damage our espresso. It’s the job of the roaster and the barista to work out the optimal ‘yield’ (the amount of liquid espresso to be extracted) from that particular coffee in order to achieve a nice, well balanced espresso. If we run the shot for longer than deemed ‘optimal’, we’ll end up with bitter, watery liquid diluting our otherwise beautiful espresso.
If you want a stronger coffee, my advice is to ask for an extra shot!
Coffee is Cheap as Chips to Make!
Nope. Just nope!
My favourite coffee myth of all? “Coffee is dirt cheap to make”…
There’s a reason why Adelaide Café owners generally aren’t driving around in Ferraris and lounging on private yachts. Coffee is not as cheap as you think and margins aren’t as great as you think!
Think about any product that you’ve bought lately. It might be a car, or a television or a packet of biscuits! If you pay very little, you can expect a relatively poor quality product. If you pay more, you can expect a better quality product. This is absolutely true in coffee. Your favourite Adelaide cafés don’t have a line out the door because they buy the cheapest, nastiest coffee they can find… They have a huge, loyal following because they value quality and are happy to shell out the extra dough for high end coffee.
The other thing that is rarely considered is labour. Next time you’re in your favourite Adelaide coffee shop, have a look at the number of staff on. Now, multiply that by the hourly award rate. Now add superannuation! Ok, sure, you’ve come in during a rush and the hard-working staff have just pumped out 10 coffees in a matter of minutes… but what about the quieter periods? What about the set-up and pack-up time that brings in no revenue. For many businesses, labour is their single biggest expense.
The truth is that most coffee shop owners opened their business not to become rich, but because they are passionate about coffee.
The final myth I want to bust is around ‘annoying’ orders. Every so often I have a customer that orders their extra hot skim latte with half a stevia filled ¾ full, then apologises for their ‘annoying’ order! If this sounds like you, I want you to stop apologising! In fact I want to reassure you that there is nothing annoying about your order. As professional baristas we are adaptable, efficient and precise and if your barista moans about how complex your coffee order is then you probably need to change baristas! Have your coffee the way you want and don’t be ashamed of your decaf, caramel ice mocha with whipped cream!
Hopefully I’ve answered some of your questions and provided some insight into the topic that we are so passionate about here at First Things First Coffee. Now it’s your opportunity to ask those questions that you’ve been too embarrassed to ask in real life! We like to think of ourselves as a café Adelaide can engage with, so don’t be shy; comment your questions below.
Why does it seem like everything that tastes good is bad for you? Think about just almost anything you find yourself craving; pizza, deep fried food, even bread for goodness sake! So what about coffee? Most of us can’t start our day without a trip to one of our favourite Adelaide cafes, but is our daily dose doing us harm or doing us good?
Well, the good news is that the overwhelming majority of research points to regular consumption of coffee as being good (great even) for our health.
Let’s get you acquainted with some of the literature so that the next time Debbie from accounts gives you that judging look as you swill your 3rd cup for the day, you’ll be able to dish her up the facts!
Coffee drinkers live longer!
A study published last year in JAMA Internal Medicine found that people who drink two to three cups of coffee per day have a 12 percent lower risk of early death than people who don’t drink coffee at all. In order to come to their findings, researchers followed a huge number of people (almost 5 million participants) aged 38 to 73 from 2006 through 2016. Their findings suggested that the health benefits from coffee are not necessarily just from the caffeine found in coffee. This is because the decaf drinkers in the study also had very positive results.
Promotes mental sharpness
Obviously we all feel that little bit sharper and more alert after our dose of the good stuff. However the mental benefits aren’t just immediate. Yet another amazing coffee prospect is that according to research it can assist with mental decline as we age and can even stave off Alzheimer’s disease. In short, caffeine blocks inflammation in the brain, specifically ‘adenosine receptors’, which can start a chain reaction that begins the mind’s cognitive decline.
One study (read it here) found that participants who drank 3 to 5 cups of coffee per day had about a 65% decreased chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia later on in life.
Acts as an anti-inflammatory
Our body creates inflammation as a way to get rid of bad stuff following infection or trauma in our tissue. Sometimes the body creates too much inflammation and it becomes out of control: this is bad! Excessive inflammation can lead to inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, enlargement and loss of function of the kidney, swelling and loss of function of blood vessels, psoriasis, Crohn’s disease and swelling and loss of function of muscles.
The food that we put into our body plays a big part in keeping inflammation under control. There’s a lot of research around anti-inflammatory diets; one of the big hitters in the anti-inflammatory world is coffee!
According to the Harvard Medical School, coffee contains polyphenols and
other anti-inflammatory compounds which may protect against inflammation.
Speeds up metabolism
Do you know someone who eats and eats and eats but never puts on weight? Chances are they have a fast metabolism.
Metabolism refers to the rate our bodies burn energy. If your body burns a lot of energy, well then you’re going to need a lot of fuel (food). While we all have a normal (or basal) metabolic rate, certain things can can speed up metabolic rate.
High intensity exercise, drinking water, eating spicy food and getting a good night’s sleep have all been scientifically shown to increase metabolic rate. Studies have also shown that the caffeine in coffee increases metabolism by 3-11%. All the more reason to get the coffee and the cookie next time you’re at your local Adelaide café 😉
Lowers Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
A study by the Harvard School of Public Health concluded that drinking coffee actively decreases your risk of type 2 diabetes. They studied a massive cohort of over 100,000 people and found that participants who increased their coffee consumption by more than 1 cup per day had an 11% lower risk of type 2 diabetes over the 4 year study period. They also found that those who decreased their coffee intake by 1 cup per day increased their risk by 17%. The reason for this benefit is once again largely attributed to the polyphenols which we talked about previously; though there also appear to be other substances in coffee at play that actively lower blood sugar.
High in Antioxidants
You’ve probably heard of antioxidants and you probably know that they are super good for us due to their disease-fighting qualities. You’ve also probably heard that tea is really high in antioxidants. Well guess what… coffee is higher! It also appears that coffees grown at higher altitudes and roasted darker retain the most antioxidants.
The health benefits to drinking coffee are many and varied: it’s even shown to make you live longer! The next time your partner has a go at you for the excessive number of transactions from your favourite Adelaide café, you can legitimately argue ‘hey, it’s for my health’!
There are approximately 20,000 cafes in Australia. With such a breadth of competitors in the market, what do you do to stand out from the pack? You start a viral trend; that’s what! The last few years have seen the rise (and fall) of a number of cool, crazy and downright bizarre coffee trends. Let’s have a look backat some of the ones that got us talking!
In mid 2016, social media lost its mind after images started surfacing of what was termed the ‘deconstructed latte’. In what many on social media deemed ‘peak hipster’, the images out of (you guessed it) Melbourne, showed 3 science beakers on a paddle; one filled with espresso, one filled with water and the third, filled with hot milk. The idea being that the drinker would combine the three elements themselves to essentially make their own latte! While the original images came from a café in Abbotsford called The Kitchen at Weylandts, it is thought that a number of Australian cafes caught on and attempted to ride the (controversial) ground swell. Jamila Rizvi uploaded the original viral pic to Facebook and stated: “Sorry Melbourne but no. No no no no no. I wanted a coffee. Not a science experiment… Next stage? I’ll just get a chopping board with a bunch of actual coffee beans and an upside down hat on it”.
The news of the deconstructed latte made news all over the world and served to only further solidify Melbourne’s image as the hipster capital of Australia! The fact that we don’t see the deconstructed latte in any of our local Adelaide cafes today is perhaps testament to the fact that the general public didn’t appreciate the novelty!
Read the original article in The Age here
Heading once again to Melbourne, where earlier this year news broke about a café called Common Folk in Mornington that had added a rather unusual item to its drinks menu; a broccoli latte! The broccoli latte is made with a special broccoli powder that was actually created by scientists at the CSIRO. The powder came about as a way to get Australians to eat more vegetables. In addition, the product is made from imperfect produce; meaning that farmers have a use for all those crops that would have otherwise been thrown out. This is pretty handy when you consider that one third of the food produced for human consumption never actually makes it to our plates, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.
While no one is questioning the motives behind creating a healthy and sustainable broccoli powder, the reviews on the mean, green broccoli latte were, well, mixed!
Do you like to add anything to your coffee? Milk? Sugar? Butter? Medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil? Ok, so those last two were meant to throw you off. Butter and oil in coffee?!
Come on… Believe it or not however, it is a thing! That thing is called Bulletproof coffee.
Bulletproof Coffee was created by a Silicon Valley investor/entrepreneur Dave Asprey. He claims that the product suppresses hunger, promotes mental clarity and provides steady, long-lasting energy. The Bulletproof Coffee literature suggests replacing your daily breakfast with a bulletproof coffee. The theory behind this bold suggestion is that Bulletproof coffee puts your body into a state of ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic process where the body does not have enough glucose to burn for energy, so it burns fat stores instead. For the record the official Australian Government health advice website Health Direct stops short of recommending the ketogenic diet to the general population due to the fact that long term effects are unknown. This author couldn’t help but give in to curiosity around Bulletproof coffee and give it a go- for the sake of good research! Perhaps I used the wrong MCT oil? Maybe the butter to coffee ratio was off? All I can say is that I can’t see the Adelaide coffee scene embracing Bulletproof coffee any time soon!
Have you ever thought to yourself; “it’s beer o’clock”… only to look down at your watch and realise it’s only 9am? Well then do I have the beverage for you: nitrogen coffee! Nitrogen coffee (or nitro coffee) is cold brew coffee charged with nitrogen. The result is a carbonated, smooth, creamy drink with a head not dissimilar to Guinness! It’s served out of a tap, just like a beer. Many Adelaide cafes are rolling nitro coffee out on their menu so keep an eye out for this refreshing summer option.
Coffee and Instagram go hand in hand. It’s a sexy subject that looks great in photo and video mediums when done well. So how do you make coffee even prettier? Make it more colourful, obviously! In 2016 ‘rainbow coffee’ began to hit our Instagram feeds. Basically this craze saw the barista add a few drops of either food dye or natural colourings like turmeric and beetroot to their milk. They then pour the milk into the espresso in the same way they normally would; only the addition of the colourings creates a crazy colourful contrast in the cup.
Check them out here.
Have you come across anything a little out of the ordinary while making your way around our local Adelaide cafes? We’d love to hear about any bold, beautiful or downright bizarre methods of making or serving coffee that you’ve seen.
We Australians love coffee. For many of us, starting the day without popping into one of our local Adelaide cafes for our daily brew is an unthinkable concept! Australia is widely regarded as the home of milk-based coffee: we even claim to have created the ‘flat white’! You might be interested to learn that here in Australia we are in fact minnows when it comes to coffee consumption! It turns out that the rest of the world is just as obsessed with the humble bean, if not more so! In this article we’ll look at just how big of a deal coffee really is around the globe. It is after all the second most traded commodity in the world (second only to crude oil).
Australian coffee consumption per capita sits at a very respectable 3kg per year. That means on average, each Australian consumes the weight of a household cat (or a very-very small dog) in coffee! I mean, 3kg is good, but this is a rookie number compared to many countries around the world. In fact, Australia is only the 42nd biggest coffee consuming nation! So which country do you think consumes the most coffee? I’ll give you a clue: it isn’t where you think…
The world’s biggest coffee consuming nations (per capita)
Yep, Finland! Regarded as ‘the happiest country in the world’, the Finns lay claim to Santa Claus and the Northern lights. They also lay claim to the highest coffee consumption of any country in the world- by a long shot! The Finns consume 9.6kg of coffee per capita annually. That’s 2.64 cups per person per day! Finland’s love of coffee is so strong that employers have a legal obligation to give their workers a ‘coffee’ break! Is it a coincidence that the happiest country in the world also drinks the most coffee? I think not!
Imagine if we all drank as much coffee as the Finns… Our local Adelaide café owners sure would be busy! 😉
Yes way! Staying in the Scandinavian region, Norway is known for it’s beautiful natural scenery; in particular the world famous Fjords. Norway also has another thing to boast about: it has the second highest coffee consumption in the world, with a whopping annual consumption of 7.2kg per capita! Believe it or not, Norway is regarded as the second happiest country in the world! There’s a real pattern starting to emerge here… Norwegians like their coffee lightly roasted, which means the natural flavours of the bean are truly displayed and aren’t hidden by the roasting process.
Just making the podium is the Netherlands, with an impressive annual consumption of 6.7kg per capita.
… and the rest
I don’t know about you, but when I think coffee, I think of Italy. It was after all the Italians that invented ‘espresso’ coffee back in late 1800s. You might be surprised to find that Italy sits outside of the top 10 consumers worldwide. Coming in at #13 on the list, the Italians go through a highly respectable 5.8kg of coffee per capita per annum. Italian coffee culture is very different to Australian coffee culture. While we Australians have a tendency towards milk-based coffees, the Italians much prefer to sip espresso. Here in Australia we like a combination of light and dark roasted coffee, where as in Italy the coffee is primarily dark roasted. Something worth noting is that if you order a ‘latte’ in Italy you will be given something different to what you’d expect from your local Adelaide café… You’d be given a glass of milk! This is because the word ‘latte’ literally means ‘milk’. If you want a typical Australian latte, make sure you ask for a ‘caffe latte’!
Another country worth mentioning is Brazil. While this coffee-crazed nation comes in at #10 on the list of top consumers, it’s their coffee export that makes them a truly giant player in the coffee world. Brazil is the biggest exporter of coffee in the world- by a long shot! Each year they export around 3 million tonnes around the world; this equates to about 1/3 of the world’s total coffee export. Brazil’s stable, hot and humid climate, along with its rich soils makes it ideal for coffee growing.
It’s a big deal, the humble coffee bean. The world is obsessed and we in Australia are no different. It’s an incredibly exciting industry to be a part of and it’s one that inspires passion and demands dedication to the craft. Even though we are just one small Adelaide café here at First Things First Coffee, we love the thought that we are a piece of the massive puzzle and we take our responsibility of providing Adelaidians with their daily brew very seriously! Drive through and start your day the same way billions of people around the world have chosen to start theirs… with COFFEE!
A question that has been floating around social media an awful lot lately is ‘where is Adelaide’s best café?’. A number of local news and social pages have put the call out recently to their social media followers to try and find out who reigns supreme among the people. These polls always attract a huge number of people ready to sling their local caffeine dealer a vote. (On a side note, if you have recently voted for us in one of these polls: cheers!)
So where is the best café in Adelaide? That’s the million-dollar question! There are a huge number of operators that could easily push their case for Adelaide’s best café. Some of my personal favourites include Coffee Barun- Sefton Park, Cream- Brighton, The Loose Caboose- Hindmarsh and Mister Sunshine’s- Thebarton. First Things First Coffee goes alright too I guess…
What actually goes into making a killer cafe? Is it simply having Adelaide’s best coffee? Is it having a huge range of different origins and blends to choose from? Is it a rock solid food menu? Is it the length of the baristas beard?
The fact is; we all have different needs and preferences. What I want from my café may be completely different to what you want from your café.
At First Things First Coffee we pride ourselves on being a specialty coffee shop first and foremost- only we don’t look like your typical specialty coffee shop at all! We understand that our customers certainly want the best that the coffee industry has got but they want it quickly and conveniently. We only serve one blend- ‘Ex-Wife’ by Code Black Coffee Roasters. Having just the one high quality blend helps us keep it simple and keep the service fast and efficient. To contrast this, many specialty coffee shops at any given time will have a vast array of different blends and single origins on offer. Some of these will be for espresso, some for milk, some for cold drip… the list goes on! I love visiting these places on the weekend and spending a couple of hours sipping away on the various offerings and enjoying the scope of flavours while I catch up with friends and chat about the craziness of the week gone by.
So my question is; which café is better? The one that I quickly swung past on my way to work on Monday morning for a latte and a toastie, or the one with the wall of different coffees that I spent 2 hours at on the weekend? It’s a bit like comparing apples and oranges isn’t it!
The other huge consideration here is taste preference. You only have to look at the coffee flavour wheel to appreciate the huge scope of flavours that can come from our favourite beverage. Some coffees are citrusy and florally, whereas some are nutty or chocolaty. Some of us like coffee with a huge complexity of interesting flavours while some of us just like coffee that tastes like coffee! What you like may be completely different to what your best mate or your partner likes.
The one thing I think we can all agree on is that for a café to be considered any good, they must be consistent! When I think of my shortlist of the best Adelaide cafés, all the venues on the list have one thing in common: consistency! So often I hear the following; “I love (café x) but only when (barista x) is working”… Isn’t it a horrible feeling when that delicious coffee that you’ve been looking forward to (and handed over your hard-earned for) turns out to be a dud!
Consistency is brought about by two main things: well trained, knowledgeable baristas and good procedures. It seems obvious, but so many establishments will throw a fresh, undertrained, nervous staff member out on the coffee machine well before they’re ready. I once heard a story of a new staff member at a café being left to man the coffee machine unsupervised. They sent out a couple of lattes, which were quickly sent straight back. The customer described them as ‘awfully grainy’… Turns out the new staff member had put coffee grind straight into the cup, stirred in some hot water then added milk- just like an instant coffee! At First Things First Coffee a new staff member will train for nearly 2 whole months before they’re even allowed to make a customer’s coffee without supervision. I know many Adelaide cafes thankfully place a similar emphasis on training.
Having good procedures also significantly decreases the chances of a bad coffee going out to a customer. Consistency across variables like brew ratios, extraction times, milk temperatures and pouring techniques all help to bring about consistent product; regardless of who is working.
There are a myriad of Adelaide cafes that are adored by their regulars and could easily push their case for best in the city. We all have our favourites. For many of us they’ve become a part of every day life as well as a social hub. We all have different needs from our cafes. Some of us like to sit and enjoy the whole experience; some of us just need our coffee hit quickly! Some of us value breadth of choice; some of us like to keep it simple. Regardless of your preferences the one thing that we can all agree on is that for a café to be worth our custom, consistency is key!
So where is Adelaide’s best café? I’ll let you be the judge!
I can pinpoint the exact moment that First Things First Coffee came into inception. It was October of 2013 and I was living in Geelong, Victoria where I’d just become freshly unemployed! I had studied at uni for 4 years to complete my Bachelor of Occupational Therapy and pretty soon I had realised the industry just wasn’t for me. At the age of 23 I felt like the path I had mapped out for myself had gone awry! All of a sudden I found myself reassessing what I was passionate about in life. I knew one thing; that for a very long time I had loved coffee! In fact it was probably the one thing that got me through my degree! I’d even had some experience making it. My girlfriend (now fiancé!) Hana, had spent most of her adult life in the coffee industry and she already had a wealth of knowledge on her side. A drive-through specialty coffee shop was an idea that we’d thrown around. We thought that just maybe, with a lot of hard work and a lot of learning we might be able to pull something off.
Back to that day in October.
My phone rang. On the other end was Aaron Box. Boxy and I went to school together where to be honest, we never really hung out! It was after high school, through some mutual friends that we connected and became pretty tight. Boxy had just finished a contract working in a mine. He was/is a qualified fitter and turner and had worked on some major mining and refinery projects. Little did I know it but he was starting to feel the same way about his profession as I was about mine; starting to get the sense that he wasn’t in the right place.
He asked what my plan was now that I was officially unemployed! I told him that the realist in me was telling me to go back to uni and get my diploma of education and become a teacher like my parents… but what I really wanted to do was open a drive through coffee shop! What he said next lit the spark that would soon ignite a great partnership: “Get out” he said, “that’s what I want to do!”.
Boxy, Hana and I pulled our knowledge and our resources and got to planning. Where should we try and set up? What should we call ourselves? How do you even run a business?! When you’re trying to get a business up and running at 23 years old and your surname isn’t Rinehart, one of the biggest questions you ask yourself is “how are we going to afford this?”! The answer?…“We’ll build it ourselves”!
For 6 months Boxy was not ‘head barista’ or ‘company director’; he was ‘site supervisor’! Hana and I learnt to drill, grind, cut and concrete and during the space of the construction period we went from useless, to slightly less useless! The construction was a hell of a lot of fun but we worked hard! We worked just about all day, every day.
The most memorable day of construction for me, was the day we received our shipping containers; which would later form the building that we work out of every day. I managed to convince my parents to let us modify the containers in the front yard of our family home in Ocean Grove, Victoria! There they sat for 10 weeks while we slowly cut, grinded and welded away, attracting the curious gaze of confused neighbours! More than 3 years on and the grass underneath where the containers sat still hasn’t grown back…
After a solid 6 months labouring away on site, we were ready. Ready to do what we’d set out to do 2 years prior: to serve Adelaide coffee!
Like everyone who has ever owned a small business, the early days were tough. We worked ourselves to the bone. It was the opposite of glamorous. We were each working 95 hour weeks to make sure that our dream stayed alive and viable. We were getting home ridiculously late and starting ridiculously early; so in order to get some rest Boxy and I would take turns napping in the office.
Slowly, as our drive- through became busier and busier and the coffee lovers of Adelaide began to stumble upon our humble shipping container store on Main North Road, we began to realise that maybe we were here to stay!
I’m super proud of our beginnings as a business. When people ask if this place is part of a big franchise, or an offshoot of some mega coffee corporation, I beam with pride as I tell them that it isn’t. We’ve achieved what we’ve achieved without mega investors or a head office telling us what to do. We’ve worked our butts off to ensure that Adelaide coffee drinkers are getting the best the industry has to offer and we feel confident that we are now firmly embedded in the Adelaide coffee scene. On behalf of Boxy, Hana and myself, I want to thank you; our customer, for supporting the dream that three kids had back in 2013. It’s because of you that we’re able to wake up every morning and continue the pursuit of making the best coffee in Adelaide.
-James Carrigg: Co-owner of FTFC