To prepare gourmet coffee, four conditions – "The Four M's" – must be met:
1. "Miscela" - The coffee mélange
We use "Arabica" coffee beans, considered to be the premium coffee for flavor and aroma. Still, one of the very basic coffee beliefs is that no single type of coffee bean, no matter how fine it be, can produce that perfect flavor alone. That flavor can only be attained by mixing several types, where every one imparts its own special "something".
2 . "Macinino" - Grinding the coffee beans
Grinding the coffee beans properly results in an even flow of the coffee beverage into the cup, and in extracting the maximum from the beans, for richer flavor. If the grind is too fine, the coffee flow will be slow and uneven and the coffee will have a burnt aftertaste. Too course a grind will result in a muddy flow of bland coffee. Changes in weather conditions, especially humidity, have a critical effect on the ground coffee and the subsequent flow of water through the grounds. To ensure the desired flow, we make sure to check the grind standards at all our branches, several times a day.
3. Macchina da Caffé - The coffee machine
Arcaffè uses Italian coffee machines manufactured by the "La Marzocco" Company, which was founded in Florence in 1927 by two young brothers, Guiseppe and Bruno Bambi. Although these state-of-the-art machines are considered to be among the most technologically advanced available, a crucial part of their production process is still carefully done by hand.
Unlike other coffee machines which operate with one water boiler, La Marzocco machines have two. This allows the operator to work on espresso and the steamer (which froths up the milk) at the same time, without any significant reduction in steam pressure. This ensures a perfect espresso plus the unrestricted quantity of steam needed to prepare velvety milk foam with the preferred characteristic tiny bubbles that perfectly suit real Italian espresso.
4. "Mano" - The human element
When all is said and done, the perfect cup of Italian coffee depends more on the way the "barista" prepares the coffee, less on the coffee machine. Arcaffè bartistas undergo extensive specialized training that teaches them how to make the perfect espresso. Training includes supervising the roasting of the beans, learning the grinding process, operating the coffee machines and finally, the proper way to foam the milk, maintain the correct temperature and pour the coffee properly and artistically.
Another important element beyond the above four basic principles is the quality of the water. The water we use for coffee at Arcaffè branches undergoes two filtering processes. Each branch has two water softeners. All the water used at the branch for food and beverage preparation is first filtered through the main one. An additional water softener is attached to the espresso machines.
For the very best coffee, the water must be perfectly "sweet" and clean. At the start of every shift, using litmus paper, we examine the ph factor of the water, thus ensuring that water has been properly treated. In addition to the conventional regular treatment of the water filters, we treat our espresso machines manually three times a week with water softening agents.
The Test of good coffee
Experts grade a quality cup of coffee on the following factors: Eye appeal - Color, the creamy head (called "crema"), the "crema's" consistency and texture. Aroma - The intensity of the aroma and the various combinations of fragrances. Flavor - The texture of the coffee and the balance of flavors. When tasting coffee, the tongue should sense a certain sweetness on the tip, acidity at the sides, saltiness in the center and bitterness at the back.