From time to time, Coffee Universe connects with The People who are helping shape today’s coffee community. This week we speak with Sarah Dooley, the Coffee, Community, and Education Coordinator for La Marzocco USA. She manages administration of the La Marzocco training programs, showroom & La Marzocco Lab events and visitors, and product demonstrations. Guests can expect a heartfelt and tasty coffee beverage upon arrival. Bring your coffee appetite!
What inspired you to become a barista?
Thinking back, the service structure of coffee bars (fast paced; short, but sweet, conversations) was so interesting. I was drawn to the atmosphere of the coffee bar, and still am. Community happens in the espresso bar every single day. The café is the new/old fashioned way of meeting people.
Which machine did you first use as a barista?
La Marzocco Linea 4-group AV
As a barista, what are the elements that you look for in a machine?
Over-all functionality and stability are very important. Good interactive ergonomics and work space, easy interface for dialing in and fine tuning, durability and craftsmanship, and accuracy during peak volumes. An espresso machine should perform well during busy periods or when you are slow, basically all of the time.
Consumers probably assume that it is the coffee that is used that determines the quality of the beverage produced – – – What would you say to that – in terms of the barista’s knowledge, and how the machine plays into that?
The question and comment I hear daily is, “Wow, this is the best drink I have ever had, what kind of machine is this?!” Now the machine plays a big part in the beverage quality, but so do the beans, and the barista’s understanding of how it all comes together. The best way to achieve excellent results is to know all your ingredients, how to get the most from your espresso machine, and to continually strive to learn and evolve in order to prepare and serve extraordinary coffee beverages.
Which of the elements you mention above are important for the consumer to think about? i.e. what should a consumer look for in a home machine?
If you are passionate about great coffee and want to begin learning more and preparing espresso at home, that is great! There are many great solutions for the home barista. Be sure to do your research to identify which machine will suit your needs, have the longest life, and deliver the results you’re looking for. La Marzocco has a light commercial, high-performance espresso machine – the La Marzocco GS/3 – for the true coffee enthusiast. It has a small footprint and fits nicely in a home, but has all of the components of our commercial-grade equipment. You can steam and pull shots simultaneously within a very tight range of temperature accuracy. But as you’re thinking about your home espresso setup, don’t forget to consider what you’ll use to grind your coffee. Also, I recommend investing in some training to make sure you know how to use and maintain your espresso machine and grinder, and also craft really delicious coffee. Trust me, you will not replace your habit of purchasing coffee if the coffee you make at home is not as good as the coffee your barista makes.
What do you brew in at home?
For espresso, a La Marzocco GS/3…of course. For brewed coffee, mostly Chemex.
Anything else you would like to add . .
An espresso machine and grinder are a pretty serious investment. Be sure you understand that making a great espresso beverage takes time, training, and attention to detail. Be sure to consider this as you make your purchase decisions. Do what you can to also learn as much as you can about coffee itself. There is lots of great information out there, as well as online communities that are continuing to discuss coffee and the science of coffee. Your local coffee roasters can also be a terrific resource and can walk you through the steps. You may be surprised how much you enjoy beverage making in your jammies on Saturday mornin’.