Thursday, October 9

The Search For The God Shot...

Here we go, lets try and throw up some controversy. The God Shot. Is there REALLY any need?

I don't think so. Making a good cup of coffee is a well documented art now. With all the books out there, all the fantastic barista trainers, online resources, etc there is no excuse for making consistently crap coffee. But as any self-respecting pro-barista can tell you, the God Shot is not simply a good cup of coffee. It's an experience that transcends the usual coffee shop coffee. Flavours should explode in the mouth, and it certainly should be one of those memories which remains with you for the rest of your life. The only problem is that it's impossible to achieve consistently.

Making a good cup of coffee is entirely dependent upon your ability to control certain variables such as water temperature, the consistency of the grind, the distribution of the coffee in the puck before and after tamping, the pressure with which you tamp, and the amount of coffee grounds and water used to make the shot. The God Shot is made when by some utter fluke the barista manages to control every one of these variables. Therefore it is impossible to reproduce over and over again.

But why not strive for the God Shot I hear you say? Because I feel it gets in the way. Rather than sit around as coffee professionals at point of sale, or at home trying to make the perfect shot with what we have, why not put that effort into sorting out the coffee at Origin, making a real effort to give farmers a fair price for the coffee we all love so much. Or why not spend that time teaching home baristas, or amateur coffee lovers how to make good coffee with their little press pot, or their little Gaggia semi-auto. Education is what we as an industry need to concentrate on; both technique and the ethics behind commodity trading. Yes, good coffee is what I want to see, but lets start by educating people how to make good coffee before we sit around deciding how to make the perfect coffee.

There, your thought for the day.



James Hoffmann said...

I've never been a fan of the term Godshot, but I am all for the concept. One thing that keeps me honest about coffee is its elusive nature and the difficulty in nailling it consistently.

To not chase it is to settle, to accept a certain standard. Now while I am always wanting to improve what I am doing it doesn't mean I am not proud or excited about what I am doing right now. I am all for spreading the word, sharing great coffee but I'd hate to take my foot of the accelerator that is driving me forwards.

I guess it is about balancing satisfaction and acceptable dissatisfaction. (Not sure if that makes any sense though)

Dane McGreevy said...

I think there is a difference between striving for the god shot on every shot you produce and striving for the skills to be able to do it. I think constantly striving for it is missing the point of being a barista, there is more to it than that!

Seamus McFlurry said...

I'd agree with James that it's a balance, and it's one I think is a little out in this country. We allow people (up north anyway) to believe that Starbucks is the best you can get, and I think that teaching people what a good shot is should come before teaching ourselves what a truely great shot is. I just think the balance needs redressing a little.


Chris said...

I'm the same, the god shot phrase doesn't sell it for me. For all the time I'm progressing, my idea of a god shot is different. The coffee I'm pouring now is probably what, a year and a half ago, I would call a god shot, but it is no set thing.

I don't let anyone believe that Starbucks is good, it almost became fashionable for awhile not to bash the chains, but I think it has to be done, people have to realise that they are shit coffee, the fast food of the coffee world!

Chris. Common Grind

Dale said...

and i'd counterpoint that negative comments about major competitors can often do as much harm as good.It's easy to sound pretentious and/or bitter when talking to people who for the last 10 years have been told that the product they pay 2.50 for improves their life!
Have faith in your products ability to convince a customer rather than stating this is better and they are s**t?

mentness said...

There seem to be two camps here. Those who's goal in pulling shots is for the purpose of making money and those who's motivation is purely intrinsic. The term 'god shot' is owned by people subscribing to the latter. A god shot in it's definition is an out this world, out of the blue espresso, a fleeting coincidence of brewing when all the espresso variables are cosmically aligned. It's also, and no one has touched on this, a completely personal perception. One man's god shot is another mans swill (well not swill but you catch my drift). The god shot in my opinion can only be a personal quest.

The role of a barista is to sell coffee is it not? Unfortunately a barista can't give every customer their god shot but they can give them a dam good cup of coffee and experience. (ooh I felt like I’d become a Starbucks drinker when I said ‘experience’….shudder)


Seamus McFlurry said...

Well put Stu. I think that education and debate are the most important things in the growing UK industry. But then again, I suppose it takes us all to really create the industry, those who focus on the perfect shot, and those who focus on teaching the public about what a real coffee is.

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