Baku, August 5, AZERTAC
In recent years, after the opening of international brand coffee shops in Azerbaijan, coffee has become a fashionable drink, especially among young people. Having tried once high-quality, professionally brewed coffee, many become its connoisseurs, and some want to have the opportunity to drink such coffee at home.
What you need to get a good coffee drink at home? What kind of coffee drinks do Azerbaijanis prefer? What are the trends in the coffee industry in Azerbaijan?
The professional barista and trainer, the popularizer of the “coffee to go” concept in Azerbaijan Neman Eldarov answered these and other questions of the AZERTAC.
- Neman, you have been working in the coffee industry for a long time. Has the attitude of Azerbaijanis to this drink changed today, given that even 10-15 years ago, many people judged coffee only on the basis of experience using soluble surrogates? If so, what is the reason?
- Certainly, in Azerbaijan and, in particular, in Baku, the number of connoisseurs of high-quality natural coffee has increased, thanks to the fact that today more and more professional barista work in the city’s coffee shops. When I started in 2008, in one of the first coffee houses in the capital - Traveler's coffee, experienced barista in Baku were just a few. Therefore, consumers, ordering a cup of coffee or cappuccino in a few coffee houses, often remained dissatisfied with their quality (and this is at a high price). Despite the possible presence of good equipment and high-quality raw materials in the establishment, unprofessionally prepared coffee will not make the buyer want to order it again or recommend it to his friends. Therefore, our main task in the popularization of coffee in Azerbaijan has been and remains the professional development of barista. I try to devote a part of my working time to this by giving free trainings to more than 30 barista monthly.
Another effective step “to introduce coffee to the masses”, in my opinion, is the development of the coffee to go concept. A person who is not particularly interested in coffee is unlikely to go to a coffee shop on purpose. However, passing by the point of sale of coffee to go, he is likely to linger in front of the counter to consider prices and offers. And, perhaps, out of curiosity, he will acquire something on trial. And then the barista skill comes into play.
Within the framework of this concept, it is possible to offer customers high-quality coffee and coffee drinks, without the high costs of premises and staff. Accordingly, the prices for first-class coffee in such establishments are lower than in classic coffee houses. The first "coffee to go" point in Baku opened in 2013. Since then, by joint efforts, we are constantly increasing the number of coffee to go points of sale in the capital.
- Why didn't coffee become a national drink in Azerbaijan, like, for example, in fraternal Turkey, where they even invented their own way of making this drink?
- To begin with, the first coffee houses in the world opened in the Ottoman Empire in 1554 in Constantinople. Turkey is a centuries-old tradition of continuity in the maintenance and development of a culture of coffee consumption.
In our country, everything is just beginning. In Soviet times, as far as I know, in Baku, there was not even a coffee shop in which they would serve espresso or drinks made from coffee beans. We began to develop this culture only when Azerbaijan gained independence, and this process takes a lot of time.
- What kind of coffee and coffee-based drinks, in your opinion, are most preferred in Azerbaijan?
- Despite the fact that recently in Baku, according to my observations, there are more and more connoisseurs of espresso and Americano without any additives, the majority of consumers prefer milk-based coffee drinks, such as cappuccino or macchiato, and milkshakes with the addition of coffee.
- Please name the main factors that determine the quality of the coffee drink? Is it possible at home to get the same coffee as in good coffee houses?
- The quality of coffee depends primarily on the professionalism of the barista, as I have already noted. An inept barista cannot achieve a good result, no matter how expensive the equipment and the source material are. Even the fact that the espresso, on the basis of which most of the coffee drinks are made, is poured into a cold cup, can adversely affect its taste: with a high probability, such coffee will become sour. Therefore, barista always try to warm the cups, using, for example, metal surfaces of espresso machines or hot steam.
In the art of making coffee there are many nuances and techniques that come with experience. In this profession, much is changing rapidly, from year to year there are innovations that need to be monitored.
Professional equipment and raw materials, in turn, also have a great influence on the result. In skillful hands, they allow you to make excellent coffee.
I am afraid that the ordinary consumer will not be able, on household equipment at home, to get exactly the same coffee as in good coffee houses.
- However, what would you advise to people who want to drink good coffee at home, where to start?
- Of course, you can get home professional equipment and learn the skills to work with it, if you wish. However, most likely, the average consumer does not need it. In general, modern household coffee machines of the upper price segment make it possible to get good coffee at home. If you are not ready for costs, there is an easier way - a geyser coffee maker. It resembles a metal teapot and allows you to get home-made coffee, similar in properties to espresso. A milk foam for making cappuccino can be obtained using a conventional French press, if you pour the milk heated to a temperature of 60-70 degrees there and beat it with vigorous movements of the piston.
Also, I can advise you to use freshly roasted coffee beans. Moreover, it is better to buy it not in kilogram packages, but in small portions, updating as needed, since the coffee in the opened package is exhaled, losing its properties, if you do not use it quickly.
- How many cups of coffee a day do you usually consume and how do you think coffee affects your health?
- Coffee helps me to concentrate, collect my thoughts, gives inspiration and energizes, so I do not keep score on cups I have drunk. It so happens that a day I consume up to 5 cups of Americano, prepared on the basis of double espresso, which is equal to 10 cups of espresso. This is a lot, but not the limit. During professional cappings - coffee tastings, the number of cups may increase.
Of course, coffee consumption is better to control - a cup in the morning and a cup for lunch are the norm. In the evening, it is better to abstain from coffee, given the fact that it appreciably invigorates a person.
- Neman, it is obvious that the coffee market in Azerbaijan is only gaining momentum. What tendencies, in your opinion, make it possible to judge his future today? Will the number of coffee lovers increase in our country?
- In order to develop a coffee culture in Azerbaijan, it is necessary to make coffee an affordable drink for the masses. Then you need to constantly work to improve the quality of the proposed coffee. And that means, to control the quality of the grains, trying to choose the best raw materials, ensure the installation and commissioning of professional equipment, conduct and attend professional training for the barista, etc.
After this, coffee will undoubtedly take a worthy place in the culture of consumption of Azerbaijan.
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