Coffee class review: Barista Skills Foundation at the Artisan Coffee School

Coffee class review: Barista Skills Foundation at the Artisan Coffee School

June 2017

By Rebecca Almond

The course: Barista Skills Foundation (£190 for a one-day course, or £240 with Speciality Coffee Association of Europe accreditation)
Where: Artisan Coffee School, Ealing Broadway, London

What it’s like
Artisan Coffee has four outlets in London selling quality coffee. The school is in the Ealing Broadway shop, so course-goers learn in a café environment.

What I learned
Dean Mackay, our tutor, explained the difference between the two main types of coffee bean: robusta (heavy, bitter flavour) and arabica (sweeter, more delicate taste) as we tasted four coffees.

‘Cupping’ is the industry method used to evaluate coffee: beans are ground, infused for four minutes in hot water (92-96°C), then tasted without milk, but with a loud slurp: “This is no time for good manners,” Dean instructs. It’s incredible how many flavours you can detect: cherry, chocolate, smoky, floral…

Palates primed, we moved onto creating the perfect espresso, which can be worked out using the Espresso Brew Formula (EBF): 1:2 ratio (20g ground coffee yields 40ml espresso). A run-through of the kit leads to a lesson in milk-steaming and texturing, followed by a cack-handed attempt at latte art – trust me, it’s harder than it looks.

The verdict
The course suits coffee enthusiasts and aspiring baristas looking for accreditation. But there are takeaway skills for the domestic kitchen, too: which coffee beans to look for, how to manually brew and optimum sipping temperatures. Dean also showed us how to create microfoam in warmed milk using a standard cafetière – now there’s no excuse not to perfect that latte art.

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