Callum Black, professional rugby player, owner of Guilt Trip Coffee & Donuts, friend of La Marzocco, and most importantly, a passionate home barista, shares with us an insight into his home coffee setup, his love for coffee and offers up some top tips for other budding home baristas.
Q: Tell us about your home coffee setup.
A: It has evolved over the years from other home espresso machines to the Linea Mini I have today. My current espresso setup is the La Marzocco Black Linea Mini with a new single dose grinder which lets me fine tune my espresso shots. I am also a big fan of filter coffee with a wide range of brewers from V60 to Origami dripper, I really enjoy experimenting with the differences between flat bed vs. cone filters. I have the Fellow Stagg EKG kettle and am using the Comandante hand grinder at the moment for my manual brews.
Q: You’ve been playing around with the La Marzocco Home App over the past few weeks – how are you finding it?
A: The La Marzocco Home app has been great so far, very easy to use with some great features. The one that jumped out at me at the start, was being able to change the coffee boiler temperature from the app. Previously I had never really changed the dial on the side of the machine, I just left it around 93 degrees. I recently had some coffee from April Coffee Roasters that recommended brewing at 90 degrees so that was a good chance to experiment brewing at a lower temperature.
The pre-infusion setting has been a lot of fun to play around with, this is something new to me in my home setup but I am currently researching this to gain more knowledge. I have settled on a 2 second pre-infusion at the moment, which I feel pulls more consistent shots with a more rounded, smoother mouthful and more sweetness.
Also being able to schedule your week as to when the machine is on or off is a great feature for me as if I’m up and out of the house early for training, the machine can be warm and ready to go when I wake up, then I don’t need to worry about turning it off if I’m rushing out the door.
All in all, very impressed with the app and a great addition to the machine.
Q: What sparked your interest in specialty coffee?
A: I never actually drank coffee until I moved to Belfast back in 2011 to play for Ulster. In between trainings, lads would grab a coffee or hang out in local cafes so I thought I had to join in. Belfast’s speciality coffee scene is great and growing all the time. I was spoilt for choice with so many independent coffee shops, my first experience with coffee was speciality coffee as opposed to going to a big chain. It didn’t take long for me to get hooked and appreciate how good and different coffee could taste. I then began using coffee subscriptions at home, starting with Barista Hustle to sample different coffee from all over Europe and further afield.
Q: There’s so much to learn about the world of coffee, what are your go-to sources for keeping up to date on all things coffee related?
A: I actually learnt a lot from watching YouTube videos on how to brew coffee and different techniques and tips. James Hoffmann’s channel is great, I’m also subscribed to April’s filter subscription and following their Youtube channel. They release great videos about the farms they work with, as well as how they brew the coffee each month along with a lot more great content. Instagram is also a great source of info and links to great sites. The Perfect Daily Grind is a great website with a lot of up to date articles. Also, Barista Hustle have launched an online education subscription which I’m working my way through to learn as much as possible.
Q: What are your top tips for other home baristas?
A: Using good quality coffee and a good grinder I believe are the most important parts. There are so many different brew methods these days that everyone has their own preferences. If the quality is there in the coffee beans, it is sometimes actually hard to make a bad brew. I’ve found collecting brewers and coffee cups can be addictive, so be careful.
Q: Across the UK and Europe, there are some truly amazing coffee roasters, who are some of your favourites?
A: So true, that was one of the main reasons for starting Guilt Trip as a multi roaster coffee shop. We wanted the people of Belfast to enjoy coffees from some of the best roasters we could get our hands on. My list of favourites could be so long, but I’ll list some in different areas. In London, Assembly, Ozone and Caravan Coffee Roasters; In Edinburgh, Obadiah; In Copenhagen, La Cabra and April Coffee Roasters; And finally, Berlin which is a coffee fanatics heaven, Bonanza and Five Elephant are my favourites there.
Q: Best soundtrack for brewing coffee?
A: I’m happy listening to anything more chilled when I’m brewing coffee, there’s a good playlist on Spotify called ‘Hanging Out and Relaxing’ or I’m also enjoying listening to Tom Walker at the moment.
Q: When you’re not brewing coffee or playing rugby, what are you up to?
A: That is what the majority of my time is taken up by, but also the admin side of running Guilt Trip does keep me busy. I have two young children and a beagle, I have recently gotten into listening to books through Audible on my dog walks which I’m enjoying, a lot of them are business books which I’ve been recommended.
Follow Callum on Instagram (@baldybarista) to keep up to date on all his latest brewing adventures!