Hidden Grounds coffeeshop holds Latte Art Class for Rutgers community
Amid the smell of freshly toasted coffee and ambient lighting, Hidden Grounds held its second "Latte Art Class" on Friday.
Anand Patel, the CEO and co-founder of Hidden Grounds, began organizing the "Latte Art Class" out of a desire to bring people back to the roots of coffee drinking as a social medium, he said.
“Coffee used to be the product that people socialized with, just like whiskey, just like scotch. It sort of became the thing you consumed while you were having these bonding conversations with your family, with your friends or with plain old strangers,” Patel said.
In an effort to remind people of the history of coffee, Hidden Grounds focuses on the importance of each individual cup, he said. Their classes create transparency so customers can see the effort involved in creating each drink.
Patel said that he wants to change the modern coffee industry model of being a drink to wake people up.
“Instead of drinking 10 cups a day, we want to show people that by focusing all your energy and attention to this one product you can get it to do what you wanted it to do but you can also get this social aspect,” he said.
Patel always wanted to hold classes but needed to design a curriculum he felt comfortable teaching, he said.
“Part of the reason we keep doing these (classes) is because we have a really strong curriculum that people see the value of,” Patel said.
It took Patel six to seven months to build this curriculum, which he also uses when training employees, he said.
“When we opened up not a lot of people knew what industry we existed in,” Patel said. “There’s Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts, but to a massive amount of the population there is still a nuance when it comes to third wave coffee.”
The class went beyond a simple tutorial on creating latte designs.
“It's important for people to see what goes behind their product,” Patel said. “A lot of people think that with espresso, you just kinda push a button and it comes out. When we were first learning how to pull a perfect shot we had this moment when we realized it’s not a simple as it looks.”
Factors such as pressure, temperature and amount of coffee used determine the quality of the espresso, Patel said.
This is the first thing employees are taught and it is essential to the quality of all their espresso-based drinks.
“And that’s why we give you the theory and application of what goes into pulling that perfect shot, and then we focus on the actual latte art which is sort of a secondary priority for us,” Patel said.
The class began with a brief theory of espresso-making with demonstrations by Patel. Attendees sat at the bar and took turns pouring steamed milk into shots.
“(The steamed milk) should be like a cement-y texture,” he said. He guided a few volunteers as they attempt to pour at the exact angle he described for making designs.
Stopping occasionally to answer questions, Patel demonstrated how to create three latte designs of varying difficulty. After most of the attendees tried themselves, they moved into the competition phase, the “Latte Art Throwdown.”
Patel steams milk and pulls shots as everyone takes turns pouring rosettas and mocha swirls into espressos. Fernanda Brandalise, the head barista, judges the competition and selects a first and second place winner.
The participants who came in first and second place in the "Latte Art Throwdown" won a bag of Hidden Grounds’ signature coffee blend for creating a rosetta.
After lattes were judged and sipped, Patel wrapped up the night by serving shots of Disaronno to guests over the age of 21.
Gabriela Amaral is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in political science. She is a staff writer for The Daily Targum. See more on Twitter @sentientfog