If you spend much time on First Avenue downtown, you’re sure to have also spent some time at two places: one, the weird roller coaster statue, and two, Crema Coffee. Nashvillest has sung its praises of Crema before, but shop proprietor and barista supreme Rachel Lehman is taking it to a new level this fall with espresso technique classes.
My wife and I were fortunate enough to sneak into the Espresso 101 class and quite literally stand behind the Crema bar for a couple hours. Rachel took us through her barista training manual, giving us the ins and outs of her shop, just like she would with a new employee. Her insights are thoughtful and truly show her love of the craft of coffee; to that end she told us some tips of the trade, like how best to tamp your portafilter and how fine to grind your beans.
Once we finished, she gave us a personal walkthrough of her espresso station and showed us how she customized her portafilters (forcing Rachel and her staff to make a *perfect* shot each time), how she uses only the finest from Drew’s Brews local roasting shop, and how attention to detail makes a great espresso. We tried some espresso that she lovingly pulled for us. It was smooth, rich and fragrant, and had a chocolaty-thick yet fruity sweetness to it. Delicious and perfect (partly due to Drew’s roasting, Rachel admits), she then went on to explain how subtle changes in method can absolutely and irrevocably ruin a shot of espresso.
And boy, I do mean ruin. When she adjusted the grind, tamp and dose of the espresso, her portafilters sprayed brewed coffee everywhere, not to mention making a bitter, burnt shot. Literally the only difference was the human elements of choice and approach — a serious thought to ponder next time you enter a Starbucks.
Luckily for everyone, Rachel videotaped a similar training session and posted it on her site – check it out! Rachel also let us know there’s still a few seats open for the other two classes in October and November, which focus on brewing techniques and coffee tasting, respectively. Visit Crema’s site to sign up!
Photo by CREMA – Coffee.