The perfect espresso is the holy grail of the coffee industry so Vibe's Heloise Wood jumped at the chance to be barista for the day at Esquires Coffee at Intu Bromley.
I can now say I have sweated pure caffeine in the quest for perfection.
Although as I was put to work on the coffee machine I was surprised at how much of a buzz I got from the routine of scooping, tamping and pouring.
Staff revealed the three most important components of an espresso are aroma, body and crema and how the biggest enemies of roasted coffee are oxygen, heat and light.
A ground coffee exposed to air only lasts for half an hour before the taste and temperature are spoiled.
Manager Jane Funnell believes the coffee culture was booming because of the sense of community with the Bromley branch hosting knitting evenings, jazz nights and charity initiatives.
Jane said: “My favourite thing, without a doubt, is the customers.
“One woman came in every day after her chemo session and we’d sit down and have a chat about it.
“She passed away recently and her family came in to invite me to the funeral. You get to know people really well.”
Barista Jack Wilson, 16, has worked there for a few months and juggles his hours with his studies in Bromley.
He said: “I’m excited about creating my own my own coffee – which we have to do for the Esquire barista championships each year.
“I was wondering about doing one with orange and mint but decided against it.
“I’ve got better at latte art by watching lots of YouTube tutorials on it.”
He told me the trick is to get the milk to the right temperature, go slowly and ripple the milk back and forth across the cup.
My first attempt looked like a deformed giraffe-type blob and the customer looked less than impressed but it was exciting all the same.
I came away impressed by the baristas’ skills and with newfound respect for the bonding ability of the beans.
The story of coffee
Coffee is thought to have originated from Ethiopia in 1000AD.
It is rumoured a goatherd, Kaldi, noticed his flock nibbling on the red berries of a bush and becoming energetic and jumping. He tried the berries himself and took them to an Islamic holy man in a nearby monastery.
The holy man disapproved, threw the berries into a fire which created an enticing aroma.
The roasted beans were then raked from the embers, ground up, immersed in hot water and the world’s first cup of coffee was produced.