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做一杯完美咖啡?窍门很多

Learning to Create the Perfect Cup of Coffee
做一杯完美咖啡?窍门很多

SAN FRANCISCO

旧金山

TRISTAN WALACH has a tattoo of the famous Las Vegas welcome sign on his neck. He goes by the name Ant. He teaches people how to make coffee, professionally.

特里斯坦·瓦拉赫(Tristan Walach)的脖子上有一道文身,是拉斯维加斯那个著名的欢迎标志。人们一般叫他“蚁子”(Ant)。他是专业教人做咖啡的。

I have come to learn from him.

而我是来向他学习的。

“People like you are the best to train,” he says, sizing me up. “You don’t have bad habits or preconceived notions. You’re a blank slate.”

“像你这样的人是最好训练的,”他打量了我一下说,“你没有不良嗜好,也没什么先入为主的观念。你是一张白纸。”

We’re at Sightglass, a cafe near downtown San Francisco with a huge coffee roaster near the front door. But Ant and I are tucked away upstairs, cordoned behind a chain and a sign: “Training in Session.”

我们在旧金山闹市区附近的“透视镜”咖啡厅,正门旁边有个巨大的咖啡烘焙机。不过蚁子和我是躲在了楼上,一条链子把我们隔绝开来,上面挂着告示牌:“培训进行中”。
 

特里斯坦·瓦拉赫,人称“蚁子”,在旧金山教人们怎样做咖啡。

Such training centers are increasingly common, and not just at cafes: there are certification classes for baristas and even Camp Pull A-Shot, a four-day, three-night event. And there are also a growing number of regional and national “throwdowns” to find the most technically proficient, graceful makers of the best-tasting coffee drinks.

这样的培训中心现在越来越普遍,不止在咖啡厅里有,还有一些咖啡店员证书的培训课程,甚至还有“冲一杯训练营”,是一个四天三夜的活动。另外还有越来越多地区性和全国性的“挑战赛”,寻找技术最纯熟、风格最优雅并且能制作最美味咖啡的师傅。

Am I skeptical? Well, making coffee, even espresso, roughly entails pouring or pushing water through coffee. Sometimes by flicking a switch or pushing a button. Sure, Ant, you can up my coffee game, and then I’ll spend three days at Camp Let’s Make Oatmeal.

我对这些算是有点怀疑吗?好吧,冲咖啡,就算是特浓咖啡,也就基本上是在咖啡豆上加水和搅水,有时候就是拨个开关或者按个钮。来吧,蚁子兄,尽管吊高我的胃口,说服我花三天去上个类似“冲麦片训练营”的课程吧。

And, hey, I’m not precisely a blank slate. Without any training, I brew a very solid morning latte. And it’s superior to Starbucks, I brag to my wife, using only a $100 espresso maker and beans from a local cafe.

还有,哼,我可不完全是张白纸。没有受过训练,我也能每天早上弄出一杯像模像样的拿铁。而且我还跟我老婆吹嘘说,我只用一个100美元的咖啡机和本地随便一家咖啡店的咖啡豆,做出来也比星巴克的好。

“How hard can coffee be? It’s an attitude we’re constantly encountering,” noted Ellie Matuszak, director of professional development for the Specialty Coffee Association of America, a trade group with thousands of company members and 1,200 people in its growing Barista Guild.

“冲咖啡能有多难?这是我们一直在面对的一种态度,”美国精品咖啡协会(Specialty Coffee Association of America)专业发展部总监艾莉·马图斯扎克(Ellie Matuszak)说。该协会是一个有数千名成员的行业组织,旗下还有一个日渐壮大的咖啡师协会,拥有1200名成员。

Ant, 34, whose title is director of education, says coffee requires a deft touch. “It’s the most complicated beverage we consume,” he said.

34岁的蚁子的头衔是培训总监,他说冲咖啡需要有灵巧的手艺。“这是我们所消费的饮品中最复杂的一种。”他说。

The training center at Sightglass includes a counter with several grinders, an industrial-strength espresso machine, a scale, coffee tampers and other paraphernalia. On a nearby island of reclaimed blond wood are 10 handleless cups, organized in five pairs, each half full of light-brown beans.

“透视镜”的培训中心有一个柜台,上面有好几个研磨机、一台专业水准的高质量特浓咖啡机、一个秤、咖啡捣锤和其他各种行头。在一块原色回收木材上,是十只没有把手的杯子,分成五对,每一只都盛着半满的浅褐色咖啡豆。

But first, we are going to watch Ant’s PowerPoint presentation about where the best beans come from and how they are picked. There is also a slide titled “The Origin Myth.” It’s folklore, a big-bang theory of the discovery of coffee by a goat herder in Ethiopia.

不过首先,我们要看蚁子做幻灯片展示,关于最好的咖啡豆产自哪里,还有它是如何挑选的。有一段幻灯片的标题是“发源地的故事”(Origin Myth)。那是一个埃塞俄比亚牧羊人发现了咖啡继而将之推广的民间故事。

Then it’s time to commence cupping.

然后是学习杯测。

This entails smelling the contents of the white cups — beans from Kenya, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, El Salvador and Guatemala. I cannot detect much difference.

我们要闻一下这些白色杯子里的东西——来自肯尼亚、哥斯达黎加、埃塞俄比亚、萨尔瓦多和危地马拉的咖啡豆。我闻不出太大的区别。

Ant then introduces me to the La Marzocco Linea, an espresso maker that runs $8,000 to $10,000. (The really expensive machines, the La Marzocco Strada and the Slayer, are downstairs for the actual baristas.) To its left is a $1,500 Mazzer Major grinder. On top is a button. My job is to push that button, dispensing precisely 19.5 grams of coffee into the filter.

然后蚁子开始教我用“La Marzocco Linea”全自动咖啡机,这是一款价值在8000到10000美元之间的特浓咖啡机(真正昂贵的“La Marzocco Strada”和“Slayer”变压萃取机在楼下,供真正的咖啡师使用)。在它左边是一台1500美元的“Mazzer Major”磨豆机,上面有个按键。我的工作是按一下那个键,准确配出19.5克的咖啡粉到过滤器中。

I’m supposed to give the coffee a little sift to even it out, then pack it down with the tamper. Ant shows me how to create about 35 pounds of pressure, a give-or-take amount achieved by bending my knees for leverage and pushing on the tamper until the coffee pushes back.

我需要稍微筛一下这些咖啡粉,将它摇平,然后用捣锤捣实。蚁子向我示范怎样才能产生35磅左右的压力,要产生这个重量上下的力度,我需要双膝弯曲借力,挤压捣锤,直到感觉到咖啡粉有反弹力。

This step is crucial, Ant says, because otherwise water flows unevenly through the coffee, creating unwanted channels. I press another button, to run the water through the coffee. We press a timer to make sure I leave the water flowing for 25 seconds. Brown and tan espresso flows into the demitasse, which Ant calls the “vessel.”

蚁子说,这一步骤是至关重要的,否则水分渗入咖啡粉的时候就会不均匀,产生多余的缝隙。我按下另一个按扭,让水分渗进咖啡粉。我们调了计时器,确保让水分渗透的时间是25秒。褐黄色的特浓咖啡流进小咖啡杯,蚁子管它叫“试杯”。

Ant sips. “It’s not terribly offensive.”

蚁子呷了一口。“也不是特别难喝。”

I sip. It is, actually, terribly offensive. Sour and bitter. Ant makes a cup using the same steps. It has a hint of sweetness, just shy of floral, no aftertaste. I make another. Just as bad as my first. Maybe I need milk.

我也呷了一口。事实上,它真的特别难喝,又酸又苦。蚁子用同样的步骤做了一杯,却飘出淡淡甜香,接近花香,没有多余的味道。我又做了一杯,还是和我的第一杯一样糟糕。或许我需要加点奶。

Ant explains how to steam the milk. In brief: position the steam wand just below the milk’s surface until the milk swirls in a circular motion and puffs up as it absorbs the steam, then drop the wand lower until the milk reaches 135 degrees, as verified by a thermometer. There’s a sweet spot between milk and temperature, the point at which the sugars cook and the milk becomes sweeter, but before the sugars burn.

蚁子开始讲解怎样打奶泡。简单来说:把蒸汽喷嘴放到刚好在奶面以下,直到牛奶在吸收蒸汽后开始打小漩渦,然后把喷嘴再往深里放一点,直到温度计上显示的牛奶温度达到135度。牛奶的温度有一个最佳的契合点,在这个点上,糖分可以煮化,却不至于煮焦,让牛奶更甜。

I try a few times. I make water-thin milk, poured over bitter shots. Finally, I get the milk consistency right, like wet paint. I try a little latte art. It looks like mating amoebas.

我尝试了几次,弄出的是水一样的稀奶,把它倒在苦味的咖啡上。最后,我总算把牛奶的浓度搞对了,就像湿油漆一样。我试着在上面画点拿铁图案,画出来像两条交配中的变形虫。

Ant offers wisdom: “The difference between a good barista and a great one is the great barista has the courage to toss a shot.” We toss my amoebas in the sink.

蚁子语重心长地说道:“一个好咖啡师和一个伟大咖啡师的区别,是伟大的咖啡师敢于倒掉一杯咖啡。”于是我们把我那杯变形虫倒进了水槽。

I have a second chance coming. I tell Ant that I’m getting more training with Chris Baca at Verve, a cafe and roaster in Santa Cruz. His eyes light up. “He’s great! I trained with him,” he says.

我还有第二次机会。我告诉蚁子,我准备在“神韵”跟克里斯·巴卡(Chris Baca)再学学,那是圣克鲁斯的一家烘焙工场兼咖啡厅。他眼睛一下就亮了。“他棒极了!我跟他一起培训过。”他说。

But first, I try to put some of my training to work at home the next morning. I throw out the first three shots. Something is wrong. I was making excellent espresso just the day before. I have actually gotten worse.

不过首先,我第二天早晨在家里试着把之前学的那点东西先实践了一下。我倒掉了头三杯,有些东西搞错了。之前那天我还能弄出美味的特浓咖啡,我其实还退步了。

MR. BACA, 32, planned to be a high school history teacher. But he dropped out of college and took a job at a cafe in Modesto. He developed a love affair with coffee, moved to San Francisco to work for a trendy cafe called Ritual, then started competing in 2006. In 2010, he finished second out of 50 competitors in the United States Barista Championship. In the freestyle competition, he made a crème anglaise espresso drink, cherry infused with a citrus garnish.

32岁的巴卡曾打算当一名中学历史教师。不过他大学时退学了,在莫德斯托的一家咖啡厅找了份工作。他渐渐爱上了咖啡,并且搬到旧金山为一家叫“典礼”(Ritual)的时髦咖啡厅工作,然后在2006年开始参加比赛。2010年,他在美国咖啡师锦标赛(United States Barista Championship)的50名参赛者中夺得第二名。在自由自选项目中,他做了一杯以樱桃加柑橘做配头的英式奶油特浓咖啡。

“I know, this all seems like ‘Best in Show,’ ” says Ryan O’Donovan, an owner of Verve, referring to the faux documentary about dog shows. “It seems ridiculous. We’re trying to make it less ridiculous.”

“我知道,这一切看着像《人狗对对碰》(Best in Show),”“神韵”咖啡厅的老板赖恩·奥多诺万(Ryan O’Donovan)说起一部关于狗展表演的假纪录片电影,“它显得很荒谬,我们在试着让它不那么荒谬。”

Verve, where Mr. Baca is director of education, devotes 1,500 square feet to training. It’s part of what the cafe considers the “third wave” of the coffee movement — the first being campfire and drip coffee, the second the Starbucks revolution and the next understanding and evoking the complexity of coffee. Training, Mr. O’Donovan says, “is the nucleus of what we do.”

巴卡在“神韵”做培训总监,这里辟出1500平方英尺的地方用作培训基地。这是这家咖啡厅所认为的咖啡运动“第三波”的一部分——第一波是营火咖啡(campfire coffee)和滴滤咖啡(drip coffee),第二波是星巴克的革命,然后便掀起了认识咖啡丰富性的风气。奥多诺万说,培训是“我们工作的核心”。

I show Mr. Baca what I’ve learned. He calls my first shot dry. He is being kind.

我向巴卡展示了我之前学到的。他说我做的第一杯有点干。他真厚道。

Mr. Baca asked me to bring my usual brand of coffee and makes a shot with it. It is not good. Lesson No. 1: coffee matters. Just because the bag says “fair trade” or “locally roasted” does not mean the highest-grade beans have been selected and put through meticulous roasting. We toss my $13-a-pound coffee in the trash. Then Mr. Baca provides a math lesson.

巴卡让我把我平常喝的品牌咖啡豆带过来,并且用它来做一杯。结果并不好喝。这是第一课:咖啡豆很重要。包装上写着“公平贸易”(fair trade)或者“原产地烘焙”(locally roasted)并不等于挑选出了上好的咖啡豆并且经过细致的烘焙。我们把我那包13美元一磅的咖啡豆扔进了垃圾桶。然后巴卡开始上数学课。

The essence of good espresso, of good coffee in general, revolves around three numbers: the amount of quality dry coffee used, the amount of time water flows through it and the amount of coffee that comes out the other end. When the ratio is right, the process extracts the best flavor. If it is wrong, the good flavor never surfaces or is watered down. A mistake in seconds or grams, I am coming to learn, is the difference between something wonderful and awful.

好的特浓咖啡,或者说任何好咖啡,精髓就在于三个数据:高品质干咖啡豆的使用量,水分渗透的时间和最终做出来的咖啡量。当这三者的比例恰当的时候,这个加工过程就能带出最好的风味。如果错了,香味要么带不出来,要么就被冲淡了。我渐渐明白,在秒数和克数上的错误,就是美味和糟糕的咖啡之间的区别。

Mr. Baca explains that you have to experiment to find just the right balance of these three elements for each coffee machine and coffee grind, and then replicate them. He has tested the machinery at Sightglass and determined that we want to use 17 grams of high-end coffee and run water for 25 seconds to yield about 30 grams of coffee.

巴卡解释说,你得试验,才能为具体某台咖啡机和某种研磨粉找到这三个元素之间恰好到处的平衡点,然后便可以依样画葫芦。他测试过“透视镜”的机器,并且确定我们要用17克的顶级咖啡豆,然后过水25秒,做出30克左右的咖啡。

Again, this seems simple, given that the grinder is preset to deliver the grams I want, and I can verify using the scale. All I have to do is press buttons. My first shot tastes foul. But Mr. Baca calls my second “bright and snappy.”

这看起来也很简单,因为研磨机已经设好能磨出我想要的克数,而且我还能用秤来确认。我要做的只是按键。我做的第一杯味道还是不对,不过巴卡说我的第二杯“清新又饱满”。

He shows me how to paint with steamed milk: hold the decanter six inches from the cup, pour a medium-sized stream at a constant rate and when the cup is half filled, lower the decanter close to the cup. When the cup is nearly full, wriggle your hand quickly to create a shape that will make the foam blossom out. Finish with a flourish by drawing a bit of milk through the middle of the design. After a few tries, I’m able to make something that looks like a pine tree, though I was aiming for a heart.

他向我示范怎样用奶泡画画:把细颈瓶放在离杯面6英寸高的位置,均匀倒出中等流量的咖啡,等杯子半满的时候,让瓶口缓缓靠近杯子。当杯子快要满的时候,再快速扭动你的手,让泡沫开出形状,最后轻轻挥动一下,在牛奶的图案中间划一道线。在试了几次之后,我能够做出某种看着像是松树的东西,虽然我本想画的是心形。

Great, I am improving. But this is impractical. I buy my coffee preground. I don’t own a scale.

太好了,我有进步。不过这没有实践意义。我买的咖啡是预先磨好的,并且我也没有秤。

“A $10 scale is the best investment you can make for your coffee game,” Mr. Baca says. And because coffee density and brewing time are so significant, he says, a grinder is not far behind. Some experts say grinding your beans fresh is the most important priority.

“一个10美元的秤是你玩咖啡时最值得的投资,”巴卡说。他还说,因为咖啡豆的密度和份量至关重要,所以不用多久我就会再需要一个研磨机。有些专家说,新鲜研磨的咖啡粉是最重要的一个元素。

Reality check: I’m trying to make it through chaotic mornings at home with a clamoring family. Mr. O’Donovan is amused. Why, he asks, would I make espresso in the morning, let alone latte?

而事实是:我家里早晨一般都很忙乱,一家人吵吵闹闹,而我得在这种环境下做咖啡。奥多诺万被逗乐了。他说,怎么可能在早上做特浓咖啡呢?拿铁就更不用想了。

“I make drip coffee,” Mr. O’Donovan explains. Mr. Baca does, too. That’s because making a good espresso requires preparation and cleanup. Even when it all goes right, it takes time. Like making a good meal.

“我会做滴滤咖啡,”奥多诺万解释说。巴卡也一样。这是因为做一杯好的特浓咖啡需要精心准备并且事后要清理。即使一切顺利,也还是要花点时间,就像做一顿好饭菜一样。

“Coffee isn’t just coffee,” Mr. O’Donovan says.

“咖啡不仅仅是咖啡。”奥多诺万说。

It’s “just like anything else,” Mr. Baca chimes in.

它“就像所有东西一样”,巴卡附和道。

I instantly take his meaning: Coffee — what I assumed was just a simple, necessary thing to start my day — is something more than that. It may not require certification but it does require more attention than I realized.

我立刻就明白了他的意思:咖啡——这种我认为是一天开始时简单的必须品——比几颗豆和水要复杂得多。它或许不需要执照,但它所需要付出的心思确实比我想象的要多。

With my cram session at an end, Mr. O’Donovan leaves me with a laugh and a warning: “You’re heading down the rabbit hole.”

我的培训课程结束时,奥多诺万丢过来一个大笑,警告我说:“你正在走向一个无底洞。”

In the ensuing days, I start using the timer on the microwave to make sure I’m pulling my espresso shots for 25 seconds. I troll the Internet for counsel on what might be a next-step espresso maker. But even with my old gear and a bit of leftover coffee from Sightglass, my shots have gotten discernibly better, and occasionally good.

之后那天,我开始在微波炉上面放上计时器,来确定用25秒的时间煮我的特浓咖啡。我在网上搜索,和别人讨论接下来应该用什么样的咖啡机。不过即使是用我的旧机器和一些在“透视镜”剩下来的咖啡豆,我煮出来的咖啡也明显进步了,有时候味道还挺不错。

I place an order for coffee from Verve. When two different roasts arrive and I make a show of my excitement, my wife rolls her eyes. She challenges whether I can even tell the difference between the new coffee and two other blends I used to swear by. So we do a blind smell test.

我从“神韵”咖啡厅下了订单买咖啡豆。当两包不同烘焙品种的咖啡到货时,我露出了兴奋的神情,妻子翻了一下白眼。她怀疑我能不能分辨出这些新咖啡豆和另外两种我曾经凑合着喝的咖啡之间的区别。于是我们来了个蒙眼测试。

I nail it. My wife seems surprised; who is this new discerning creature? Just getting started, I tell her. Wait until you see what we can do with milk.

我赢了。我妻子似乎很吃惊:这个鼻子这么灵的人是谁?我跟她说,这才刚开始呢,一会儿你得看看我们还能用牛奶做什么。
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