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Cappuccino Trials

Cappuccino Anyone who knows us and our shops, knows that we are incredibly obsessive about coffee. I’m not sure it’s healthy or that it makes much financial sense, for we spend too many countless hours tasting and trying to get it right. But that’s what we do.

Over the years, we have made many improvements, both in terms of process and taste. We’ve also moved to a Fairtrade bean and lately organic milk. Those are steps that we feel very good about, but the trick is to keep the coffees tasting good and coming out consistent.

Bad foam in milkI have written here about the difficulties of milk in the winter – how the lack of protein makes it harder to get good foam. The bubbles are too large (see photo), and the foam collapses easily. This seems to be compounded with organic milk, although some days it seems that it works better than others. Customers have noticed, and they are complaining.

The bottom line is this – using fresh and natural products is not always, by any means, the easiest thing to do. There are many reasons to go with the easy way – there is milk designed for frothing that is controlled for protein and froths perfectly every time. That’s really appealing because consistency is probably the most important part of keeping happy customers. The only problem is that we don’t like the taste.

I think the benefits of using organic milk, both in terms of how it tastes and for feeling good about it, make it worthwhile to stick with it and work on a solution. There’s a Chinese proverb, “The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor people perfected without trials.”

Let’s hope the last bit applies to cappuccinos!

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7 Responses to “Cappuccino Trials”

  1. February 24th, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Rachel@fairycakeheaven says:

    I’ve had your coffee and thought it was lovely, WAY better than 99% of places to be honest, stick with it Kieran, can’t wait to get down again to have some with organic milk, we use it at home but I’ve never had it in a latte or cappucino.

  2. February 24th, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    Ricky says:

    I had the same problem with tests on organic milk :-(

    I could get the milk to foam if I persisted for a latte (around 10 degrees higher – which affects the taste) but could not get perfect milk for a cappucino

    Let me know if you work out a solution.

  3. February 25th, 2008 at 1:11 am

    Manuel says:

    “…how the lack of protein makes it harder to get good foam” Not easy trying to convince a customer of that though…..and I’ve tried so many times…..

  4. February 25th, 2008 at 3:02 am

    TACE says:

    Isn’t it funny that people seem to want more natural, healthy, organic products, a straight from nature sort of feel, untouched by chemicals, additives and over processing..but still we want consistency?? haha We want it all, but it’s a shame that you can’t just say “lack of protein” and have every one breathe a collective Ohh of understanding. Maybe someday they will, fluffy, big bubbled foam sounds better then some chemically altered, scientifically engineered, never fail foam that maybe could be squirted out of a can so people can have the EXACT same thing every time…hahaha

  5. March 2nd, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    thegirlwhosafraidoffoxes says:

    Sounds delightful, but I’m dying to try some of your coffee and I’m stuck in Dublin. Do you have any plans to sell bags of ground coffee online??

  6. March 27th, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    flyingthud says:

    Just found your blog, really enjoying it, and nice too to see someone talking about coffee.

    Regarding milk, I had three different types fail on me at Christmas, two of which were Glenisk. I know a few quality focused cafes in Dublin who use the bigger brands due to their consistency. I can’t say either that I’ve noticed a considerable quality difference between the organic and non organic milks, especially when combined with coffee. If anything, my experience with some milks from smaller lots of cattle, tend to be a little gamey or somewhat funky. Goats milk reminded me just of roast chicken skin.

    I’m really interested these days in how some coffees work well with high fat milks and others get lost in the cup. I know Monmouth in London use only Jersey milk, which I think has a fat content of 5.5%, but they only do 8oz cups and double shots in everything, which I suppose maintains a good balance.

    Can I ask what kind of machinery you’re working off in the cafe? I’ve been feeling a trip down the country was long overdue, perhaps now a visit to yourself has made my decision.

  7. June 3rd, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    Selif says:

    If “organic” milk is such a problem, what do you suppose Cappucino lovers did before modern solutions were developed?

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Kieran Murphy is a director of Murphys Ice Cream living in Dingle, Co. Kerry, Ireland.

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Murphys Ice Cream

Murphys Ice Cream has shops in Dingle, Killarney and Dublin 2 (Wicklow Street).