Veneziano Coffee Roasters and 2013 World Barista Champion Pete Licata have released a set of coffee compasses, designed to guide baristas and coffee makers on their path to making the perfect coffee.
“Since the World Barista Champion, people ask me – whether they’re customers, baristas and café owners, or even people from other companies – ‘how do I balance my coffee?’ or ‘how would you adjust it for a certain flavour?’,” Pete says.
“There’s a lot of confusion around extracting coffee and a lot of ways you can get to a balanced or good tasting point. It’s tasting sour? You might want to play around with it – lower the dose, change the grind size, extract it for longer – but there’s not a lot of great tools to guide you on what’s the most likely solution.”
One compass is designed for espresso coffee and the other for filter brewing. While not the first ‘coffee compasses’ on the market, Pete believes these models are easier to understand and can be applied in more situations.
“People understand the idea of a compass and how it guides you in the right direction. Especially with espresso, it’s really as simple as having four major directions with a few spaces in between,” he says.
The espresso compass uses ‘too sour’, ‘heavy body’, ‘too bitter’, and ‘thin body’ in place of north, east, south, and west, with midpoints where these flaws combine, as well as instructions on how to fix them.
Pete suggests increasing the ratio if the coffee is too sour or high in acid and decreasing it if too bitter, or it has a dry finish. He says grinding coarser will thin out a muddled coffee while a finer grind will add weight to a watery one.
For filter coffee brewing, Pete says a more complex approach needs to be taken. Having published a book on it last year, How to Get the Best from Your Coffee, he already had a wealth of testing, data, and research at his disposal.
“There’s a lot more complexity and variables on the compass, and that’s because we’re used to changing those things with filter. For example, changing your temperature while brewing is much more common than it is with espresso, even though we have the technology. Other things like turbulence and agitation are things you can’t affect in the espresso brewing process at all,” Pete says.
The filter compass uses ‘sour’, ‘weak’, ‘bitter’, and ‘strong’ as its four main bearings, with additional instructions if the coffee is falling somewhere between these points. With more information to convey, the filter compass also features a more complex design.
“With the shape and design, I say it looks like a flower, others have said a coffee filter. That shape, with the eight petals, was important for the familiarity and to fit so many variables on a centralised compass.”
Pete and Veneziano initially released compasses exclusively to its café partners, but are now ready to have them shared with the wider community.
“It’s a universal tool anyone around the world could use. On the professional side, baristas always want the best tools and education. With more people also making coffee at home, you have your ‘set it and forget it’ type people, who will put in the pod and press the button, but then you have the prosumer or coffee geek, a growing demographic that wants to play with different variables,” Pete says.
“There’s a lot of stuff that takes them down a rabbit hole, but isn’t super useful for making coffee at home. People who want to make better coffee at home, but don’t necessarily want to create a Master’s thesis on the nature of coffee extraction. A tool like this is a handy thing to have that will get them there a lot faster a lot more of the time.”
Pete and Veneziano Training Manager Jade Jennings have also been creating educational videos for the Veneziano YouTube page and social media. In 3 Minutes of Coffee, Pete breaks down advanced coffee concepts in short bursts, while M.A.D.E. with Jade covers at home coffee brewing.