Ahhh…. Breakfast (last full day in Portland)

Just thought I’d share what I made for breakfast this morning. $1…. Take that McDonalds!

Pancake breakfast at the hostel


What a day of encouragement……

There’s not really any one thing I want to point to this evening but God has really sent several encouraging words to me today through different friends. God is so amazing when you really do your best to follow his lead. REALLY following his lead is something new to me I think. I mean I think all of us would like to think that we follow God and abide by his plan but I’m not really sure that I always have. It’s almost like giving yourself “lip service”. Not that I’ve arrived or anything but I can definitely see God doing things lately even in small ways.

Like earlier this week I was feeling a little downish. I think it was a combination of different things. The weather here isn’t my kind of weather, away from the family, and the magnitude of starting a business kinda hit me. Plus I’d been forgetting to have some time with God in the mornings. I’m out of my morning routine here so it kinda slipped my mind. So the past couple of mornings I’ve been focusing on just talking to God a little, and yesterday/last night I just really asked him to encourage me in some way and to confirm what I’m doing, and today my day started off immediately with a call from a friend that really had some encouraging words (and I don’t talk to this friend much). Then I’ve received several other messages via email and/or Facebook from people really encouraging me. It’s almost like God is saying, “you asked for encouragement… and so here ya go”.

Thank you Lord…..

Quick check in ….. (still in Portland)

Ok, so I got an email from my mother this morning wanting to make sure that I was still here. She was checking in to see if I’d been getting enough rest, sleep, and food, and she was wondering if I felt safe. Hahahaha….. I guess recording all my videos in the morning or at night would make you think that I’m not getting enough rest just because I look so rough at those times. Trina commented on the bags under my eyes. Haha! Oh, and I guess the little titles on my videos about random strangers may cause some to be alarmed but I assure you I’m just being comical.

I may not be going to bed early enough but I’m sleeping probably 7 or so hours a night. The people here are pretty much your “hippy, earthy” type of folks. They’re all really nice and pretty low key for the most part. This place is very clean and well put together for what it is. Laundry facilities, full kitchen with free bagels, $1 all you can eat pancakes, two refrigerators for groceries you want to bring in, so it’s a good place.

I got a call from a friend that I don’t typically get to talk to that much and he was telling me about someone in his town that he believes has started or was interested in starting a coffee house business. He wanted to know if I’d be interested in him getting us hooked up over the phone to “talk a little shop”. Of course I was interested. Then I got to talk to one of our pastors via Facebook last night and he gave me some ideas about possible locations for my coffee shop that I really hadn’t considered up until this point. So, that was very encouraging. I really had some prayer time throughout the day yesterday just asking God for affirmation and encouragement about what I’m doing here. I asked him to show me or speak to me some how about what it is I’m doing and then I have those interactions with those two friends of mine. I don’t know about everyone else but I typically take those occurrences and God answering my prayers.

So i say all that to say, I feel encouraged this morning and it’s a good feeling. When you’re in a place like I am this week, by yourself, away from your family, friends, and your typical surroundings, it’s easy to start self doubting and getting down on yourself at times. I do think that’s just part of a process like this though.

Thanks to everyone that has text me, sent me messages on Facebook, or made comments on my blog. It’s great to know that people are thinking and praying for me. I really do appreciate it a lot.

Ok, I’d better go catch the bus before I’m late for class. We’ll be working on making Panini and some other food menu items today as well as practicing specialty coffee drinks some more I’m sure. Latte art is tomorrow. If no one has seen Latte art, it’s really cool and something I’ve not seen in our area.

Oh, I’ve also found some sweet looking coffee shops around here. Maybe I’ll be able to share some pictures with everyone later tonight. MORE TO COME LATER…..

Day 3 – Day 1 of Barista Training

Really enjoyed class today. We got to extract espresso shots which i really like. We also learned how to properly steam the milk so that the foam has a velvety smooth consistency to it. The challenge really comes in doing both at the same time. Getting the espresso shot to extract correctly is interesting because if you grind the coffee bean to coarse then the espresso will extract too fast and if you grind the coffee bean too fine then your extraction will be too slow. What you want in a proper espresso extraction is a consistent stream that is about the thickness of a spaghetti noodle and has the consistency and color almost like honey. The color should be rust like.

Espresso extraction

Espresso extraction

The extraction should take approximately 25 seconds. Any faster than that is too fast and any slower would be a dribble looking extraction.

It was interesting to taste the different between a bad extraction and a good one. You’ll taste a bad espresso extraction towards the middle to back of your tongue. It’ll be really bitter (of course I’ve been told that straight espresso is an acquired taste), but a good espresso extraction will be tasted across most of the tongue. It’ll almost be as if your entire tongue is coated.

Like I said we also learned today how to steam milk properly. Milk should be steamed between 140 and 160 degrees. What you do is place the steaming wand completely down in the milk so that when you first turn on the steam it pushes air into the milk. Almost immediately you want to lower the milk pitcher (not sure that is the proper term for the container holding the milk…… it’s late back off) so that part of the steam wand head is out of the milk so that the steam and air begin to mix into the milk causing the milk to roll or go into a spiral motion. You hold the pitcher with one hand and put your other hand on the bottom of the container. Once you begin to feel the container warm the milk is probably around 100 degree.
At the point the container almost gets too hot to touch it is most likely approaching 140 to 150 degrees (a thermometer is typically used while steaming milk to assure proper temperature), and you should pull the steaming wand out of the milk and make sure there are not visible bubbles in the foam and that it has a smooth consistency.

The espresso extraction and steaming of the milk if timed right should complete about the same time and then the milk should be poured over the espresso almost immediately so the crema (a reddish-brown foam that floats on the surface ) and the milk mix properly.

So tomorrow I think we’ll be going out and visiting some local coffee shops and seeing how they do things in a live environment. Should be exciting.