Barista Magazine

APR-MAY 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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Instagram account (@baristamagazine) for details! Now let's get to some down-and-dirty equipment talk, how about it? How do you decide when it is appropriate to use a reverse osmosis system versus just a water fi lter? Reverse osmosis (RO) is generally only used in areas where the water is very hard (high mineral content) and might contain other compounds that can damage equipment. A simple sediment and carbon fi lter will help with color, odor, and taste, and can be suffi cient if the water in your area is generally soft. There is a step in between called softening, which is great if your water is somewhat hard but generally has little to none of the other harmful compounds. Water chemistry can be different not just from region to region, but even just from one part of town to another, so it's always important to know how to test water and be on the lookout for a few key elements. This is something that any techni- cian should be able to do. Some equipment manufacturers publish water require- ments, which is super helpful. Here are some of the general measurements a café owner might want to keep handy: Total Hardness (GPG): less than 3; Total Dissolved Solids (TDS): 70–150; Ph: 7.0; Chlorides: less than 30 ppm; Silica: less than 5 mg/l. I know that's a lot, but hey, you asked! —Double J When should we change the seals on the steam wand? We recommend you rebuild your steam valves at least twice a year. Some really busy shops could benefi t from doing it more often, but I would never recommend less often than that. There are typically a lot of O-rings and seals that will dry out and crack, and you can be left with a steam wand that won't shut off. While the technician is in there, they will also inspect the valve itself for signs of wear, lubricate all the moving parts, clean out all the little ports and holes where milk and other crud gets trapped, and basically get that thing feeling—in some cases—better than brand new. I have personally found that feeling the newly rebuilt steam valve is typically the thing that baristas and shop owners are most excited about. If it has been too long since the last rebuild, it's an immedi- ately noticable improvement. —Alex How does one get in to becoming a coffee technician? It's really cool how much interest there has been about get- ting into our trade! You can check out the December 2017 + January 2018 issue of Barista Magazine to read an install- ment of "Pathfi nder: Exploring Careers in Coffee" that's all about becoming a tech. Tom Abraham, who is a tech for Ozo Coffee in Boulder, Colo., writes a very familiar story on how he found his way into this crazy world of tech life. In my opinion, the absolute best way to go about getting into this or any other trade is get an apprenticeship. Take the time to get to know some of your local techs, asking questions both technical and about the daily ins and outs of the job. Make your intentions clear, but don't be overly pushy. It's important to be sure it is something you truly want to do. We always look for people that will want to do this job for a long time, and not just put another notch in their coffee belt. I like to remind people that being a tech is still very much a customer-service job. The hours can be sporadic, you're going to get dirty, and your hands will look like you've been playing with a kitten (or a tiger) pretty much all the time. It's hard work, but it can be very rewarding. Good luck! —Double J "If one steam wand is more powerful than the other, you can usually guess that there is a clog somewhere that is restricting the flow." 101 www.baristamagazine.com

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