Man vs. Machine
This month I bring up a topic that can be quite a tricky pill for some to swallow. What most people in the coffee industry fear is that dreaded question ‘Will equipment become so advanced that there will be no need for a skilled barista!?’ . Some people agree, some do not…. now lets discuss!
I have been in coffee for six years now and I have seen a massive shift in the way we prepare coffee as well as a technological change in the equipment used to brew this spectacular beverage. Things have changed drastically and we tend to keep moving with the flow. New grinders are bought, new machines are installed and we carry on with our daily job without looking back and wondering if this new equipment has really made a massive change in quality or has it just made life easier in terms of the amount of physical effort needed. I am glad I have some old equipment to play around on to remind myself how lucky I am to use the latest state of the art machines.
The latest gadget to my collection is the new PUQ Press. This is an automated tamper that promises to deliver a consistent tamp every time as well as having the option to set the amount of pressure that will be applied. Now I am very ‘pro’ manual tamping but my views change when looking at a high volume cafe. As humans, we are always going to have an element of ‘human error’ and there is no way of getting around it. In a cafe environment we aim to get our shots running at a uniform time but unfortunately from time to time an error occurs and we pull a bad shot. I have found that the PUQ Press has enabled me to deliver consistent shots as well as perfectly level coffee beds that lead to amazing tasting shots. I know this sounds like a lazy option with no ‘human element’, but if this can lead to better tasting, more consistent coffee then I have no problem at all with introducing a ‘machine’ to eliminate the human error factor.
As the years go on and technology evolves we are bound to see new pieces of equipment pop up that could potentially assist us baristas to make a better quality product for everyone to enjoy. If you see how much technology is around us you will be amazed and begin to realise that as humans, we still have the deciding factor but we use ‘machines’ to assist us to produce a product that is consistent every time.
The way we make coffee is constantly changing; even if it may be small steps at a time, it is still changing. We have seen products like the PUQ Press, on demand grinders as well as automatic milk fillers pop onto the market over the years but we still see our favourite barista behind the machine making our daily fix. I don’t think that machines will ever replace us in our lifetime at least but they will simply assist us to produce mind-blowing coffee that is consistently good!
Have a look at the equipment next time you are in your favourite cafe and ask the barista a few things about it and you will see that they are simply tools to assist the barista and not ‘robots’. We are living in an ever-changing world surrounded by technology and I think it’s great! Don’t you?
Until next time, where we will move onto roasting…