Back to the mysteries of the bean

July 9th, 2005

I was involved in a training session under the broad title of advanced barista. It was just one person so we were able to tailor it to exactly wha the needed. But its making me think…

I am currently trying to write one of these courses for my company and it is just the most frustrating thing. A basic barista course is fine. You know exactly what you are starting with – very little. From there you can instil in people a good sense of the most important elements (I’m not going to go into what these are – its fairly obvious).

Now, with an advanced barista you just don’t know what you are going to get and what they want out of it. Three different people could walk in – one with an incredible passion and knowledge but a desire to succeed in competition, one has done a basic barista course and is now almost ready to open their business, and maybe someone involved in a different area of the industry (such as roasting) who wants to know more about how to use the product they create.

One course cannot satisfy these people. There are of course certain areas that can be taken further quite quickly – refining dosing, distribution and tamp, and milk skills are always in demand – but where then?

Should we be introducing taste and gustation, roasting and blending, cuppings, diagnosis of pours, basic machine maintainence and understanding, more about the botany and history of coffee?

There is too much – so then do we only take one person at a time, assess them when they arrive, already knowing what they want to get out of the course?

I don’t want to be just a milk hack – latte art is lovely and all that but I’ve had a rosetta poured into a god awful espresso and I’m just not going back there.

I suppose one must advertise the course with a detailed description of what will be covered and then try and see those with special requirements seperately.

I wish I had the time and the money to go around and take all the other advanced courses people are offering in the UK and see who is doing what. I am sure I would see some shocking things (in fact – I know I would!) but at least it would prevent me pandering too much to the low end demand of this country’s market.

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