The Year of Fun #5: Barista Skills

I’ll admit I am a bit of a stereotype in certain ways when it comes to the typical laptop lifestyle entrepreneur/freelancer creative type. In that… I am all about COFFEE!

I start my day with coffee, and if I don’t, then I turn into feral Cat: which you would not want to be around. I then have another cup at a cafe for a change of scene or to meet a friend, and that’s usually me for the day.

And when I watch those baristas perform their dark art, I can’t help but be captivated by the mystery of it all. I’m always blown away by the difference in a perfect coffee shop cappuccino versus my home-made run of the mill supermarket Americano.

Granted, I’m not a total coffee luddite. I do buy fancy fresh coffee, I sometimes grind the beans myself, and I use an Aeropress which delivers a damn good – and speedy – cuppa.

But my fascination has remained. Learning how to wield a professional espresso maker, steam milk jussst right and may be even one day create some latte art all on my own… has been on my bucket list for quite some time.

Finally. This Year of Fun has given me the excuse to splurge on a barista skills training workshop, and finally the time came, last weekend.

Now if you’re not familiar with my neck of the woods, the seaside town of Brighton here in the south of the UK, I should tell you that coffee is kind of a big deal here. There are some world class roasters and a ludicrous number of places to get your caffeine fix. Many of them offer barista training too.

I went for a 3 hour workshop at Wheat and Beans, a lovely, family run Argentinian style cafe in Kemptown, the funky end of town.

Wheat and Beans

I had the luxury of being the only one on the workshop, which the introvert in me delighted in, and the shy kid in me was very relieved to find my teacher and pro barista Fabricio to be super friendly and welcoming.

We started with a bit of theory, and I naturally went into geek mode. I did that thing where I asked questions to sound intelligent and tried to make it clear that I was a real coffee connoisseur – saying things like Yirgacheffe and crema and extraction time.

Coffee geekery

Coffee geekery

Ugh. I feel bad for Fabricio having to sit through that.

Anyway, I settled down soon enough and we made our way to the practical side: uh oh. Now I’m staring at this shiny, complex monster of a coffee machine with buttons and levers and hot parts you really shouldn’t touch.

Fortunately, Fabricio was a great teacher and I got the theory down pretty quick. Oh but I learned how much skill and practise goes into getting the perfect foam of my beloved cappuccino or the delicate balance of foam and texture of a latte and don’t even get me started on a flat white.

Jeez.

Latte art

Not my art! Fabricio takes the credit here

I have come away with a whole new level of appreciation for what my baristas are doing behind the scenes, at least in the independent coffee shops.

So, am I now a pro barista?

Hah! Heck no. I barely got away with a passable cuppa. But… I reckon with a bit of practise, I could certainly get my chops up and I don’t know, if the Creative Introvert goes south may be I could become a barista in some hip cafe… Er, I’d probably have to get a lot cooler for that, may be some tattoos and a nose piercing…

Anyway, I walked away happy, caffeinated to the gills, and with a certificate which proves my participation. Yay.

Barista certificate

My fun rating for barista training: 8.5/10

Really good. Think that’s the highest so far.

Anyway, if you’re interested in indulging your coffee geekery, I do recommend Wheat and Beans of Brighton.

Next week: Crochet a bunny! A nice gentle one, I’m damn grateful for…

Crochet bunny

Next week!

 

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