Hidden Grounds pours into community with latte courses

Hidden Grounds Coffee, a cafe company with locations in New Brunswick, Jersey City and Hoboken, is offering latte art classes for members of the communities it serves. 

The New Brunswick classes are held at both locations on Easton Avenue and are instructed by Justin Jajalla, who has been an employee at the establishment for two years and has managed its other location. 

“We develop these classes as a way to not only give our customer base and the community something fun to do, but to educate them with the products we are putting out. To give them a better understanding of what they are ordering and a heightened sense of appreciation for what is happening behind the scenes,” Jajalla said. 

The class teaches you how to make the perfect Instagram-worthy latte from start to finish, including the equipment needed and how to use them. 

Every latte is composed of two very important ingredients: espresso and milk. 

A shot of espresso serves as the base of the latte, where all the flavors and notes of the drink lie. Espresso beans are run through the grinder and then extracted through the espresso machine. 

The coffee beans Hidden Grounds Coffee uses are organized in rotation and sourced from different countries such as Guatemala, Peru and Ethiopia. Its espresso blend is currently composed of beans that are half from Papua New Guinea and half from Guatemala. 

Upon extraction, it's essential that the espresso has two layers. The first layer is the crema, which is the foamy top layer where the most intense flavors are located. The second layer is known as the body (or the heart), which reveals the color of the beans being used. 

The milk in a latte is always steamed. This process not only brings out the sweetness in the product, but also allows for the art to come to life with one single pour. To achieve that ideal pour, it should have a wet paint texture with micro-bubbles. 

Distance, speed and tilting are crucial during the process of pouring and beginning the latte art itself.

When first pouring, the espresso and milk are introduced to one another. It provides a nice base for the art that will be created. The flow of the milk should have a thin stream and be a good distance away from the cup. 

The second phase of the pour is where things start to get creative. There are many different shapes and designs that can be produced. The class touches base on the three basic shapes: the heart, rosetta and tulip. 

The finished product should have a silky texture with a very solid color and a sharp image. 

Jajalla demonstrated the process and talked us through everything step-by-step. He then allowed students — on a volunteer basis — to try it out themselves, critiquing their strengths and offering where they may need some improvement.

Not only does Jajalla educate people on latte art, but he also educates them on the story behind the coffee Hidden Grounds Coffee serves and the science behind creating a latte. 

The cafe tries to offer these courses at least twice a month. Not only does Hidden Grounds Coffee offer latte art classes, but also offers courses on how to open a business and homebrewing. 

People who attend these classes range from students and residents from neighboring states to entrepreneurs who aspire to open their own coffee shop in the future.

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