Vocation Vacation

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From writer/blogger Cynthia Houchin. Cynthia is a regular at Kick Butt and recently participated in our Vocation Vacation: Barista for a Day. She writes for Chickster Mag. Chickster Mag is all about fun things for the ladies in Austin, Texas. Enjoy:

For the caffé connoisseur, nothing's better than piping hot espresso any time of day. But if you've ever wanted to enjoy some from the comfort of home, there remains the challenge of mastering the espresso machine. Now you can learn to channel your inner barista through UT's informal class at Kick Butt Coffee Music & Booze.

A local independent coffee shop, Kick Butt Coffee Music & Booze on Airport Boulevard (and now, with a new location at the Triangle) takes you behind the counter to learn a few tricks of the trade. Thomas Gohring (of Master Gohring's Tai Chi and Kung Fu fame) brought this little coffee joint to life in February 2008, and it thrives with diehard regulars and an eclectic mix of folks drawn in by excellent coffee, a full bar (if you'd like something a little stiffer than coffee), music, and comedy shows. Oh yeah, and a shared affection for Chuck Norris.

Kick Butt's impressively large commercial grade espresso machine equates to operating heavy machinery, in my opinion, with triple spouts for portafilters and I'm loving the chance to go for a ride. Flipping the grinding switch, I fill my portafilter to the brim, and tamp it down three times with a mini metal barbell. I slip the portafilter into the machine with a flick of my wrist and some elbow grease (there's definitely an art to this step), and pull. I hold my breath to see twin delicious shots trickling out with a head of rich crema (tastiest when arriving between 18 and 24 seconds of the pull). Espresso shots should be consumed within two minutes, as they rapidly degrade through cooling and oxidation.

However, I have other plans for my shots. Having learned the finer points of foam versus steam in my class (and realizing I should have been asking for "wet" or less foamy cappuccino for many years now) I spin up some steamed milk in the necessary stainless steel pitcher with just a hint of foam, and carefully gauging the temperature to be sure and hit the 160-degree mark but not the dreaded burnt flavor 170-degrees brings. I start my cup with a few squirts of vanilla sauce, pour in my double shot of fresh espresso, then add the milk, skip the whip and voila! Made to order. Hard work never tasted so good as I sip my Caramel Macchiato.

BTW: Deadly weapons adorn the wall and also help to guard Kick Butt Coffee grounds from caffeine junkies.


To schedule your private Barista For a Day class for 4-6 people, click here