Professional training for the non-professional

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
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#1: Post by bobdc »

If you want to improve your knowledge and skills with coffee and espresso, sign up for training with a professional today. This past Saturday I participated with 4 others in a training class at Murky in the Washington, DC area. The three hour class was conducted by the Director of Training & QC and the General Manager. The talks gave us a great deal of information on understanding and preparing coffees and espresso as well as plenty of time for hands-on work with and without assistance. The 5 of us had a legion of personal questions answered too. This course taught me many of the ideas and practices I have to let go of and a host of new skills. I'm now pulling consistently better shots and have alot more confidence and fun doing it. Wish I'd done training sooner but I recommend training as a gift to yourself or someone else. I hope my experience is worth sharing with you. :D

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#2: Post by jesawdy »

bobdc wrote:This course taught me many of the ideas and practices I have to let go of and a host of new skills.
Nice Bob..... I took one beginner course and it was fun but I didn't feel like I walked away with much new at the time. I want to take a more advanced class someday (Counter Culture will have a training center in my neck of the woods one day soon).

Care to share what you needed to let go of?
Jeff Sawdy

bobdc (original poster)
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#3: Post by bobdc (original poster) »

Thanks Jeff,
Counter Coffee just opened a new training center in Washington, DC, a few blocks from my home. I met some great individuals at their recent opening. Kinda neat that several restaurants in DC, known for good coffee are using CC roasts.

Most notable was my belief that I had distribution and tamping down pretty well. Murky Coffee's way was far better and I tasted the difference right away. In the distribution and tamping process I can now usually see a mistake coming before I commit it. My shots are pretty consistent and if they are bad, I can usually spot the problem.

I am now better at grinding and more able to see the difference a small grind adjustment can make.

Aaron, the trainer, early on, had us taste test several coffees. The first was full-bodied and delicious and the second weak in body and taste. The class decided it was different coffees or differing roasts. Actually both cups were the very same coffee. The first was ground in a good pro-style grinder and brewed with filtered water. The second ground in a home-style grinder and brewed with tap water. The difference was amazing.

Steaming or Stretching milk I was way off on. This new way is far better and simpler. I often resteamed milk, a no-no now. I tended to stretch too long and would lose the effect. I put the steam wand tip too far under the surface. Now I keep it just under the surface and have learned the appearance and sounds to look for.

I also picked up a beginners knowledge of coffee types and varieties.

Most of all, I lost my fear of 'doing it wrong!'.

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#4: Post by scook94 »

I took the "Espresso Enthusiast" course that Intelligentsia offer when I was on vacation in Chicago last April. It was the most amazing fun, I got to play with a La Marzocco GB/5 and a Mazzer Robur ,and meet 2 of my "coffee heroes" in Matt and Amber and discovered a new hero in Andy Carey!

However, playing with that kind of kit bore little comparison to my HX machine back home, so I'm not sure I learned too much apart from realizing that a lot of the minutiae we obsess over as home-baristi aren't quite as important as we perhaps think they are.

All in all though, I can thoroughly recommend it. If anyone's interested a few pics of my visit can be found here. ... 4450155698

TheCod Father
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#5: Post by TheCod Father »

I wish that there was something like that in our neck of the woods. If more people had a chance to take a course like this it would make inprovement less of a hit or miss situation . Trying to learn something when you don't know what it is that you are trying to do .Face it most of us have never had the priviedge of having really good espresso before beginning the quest of the bean .We just know that there was something better than we were being served.We can all read about being told to stop a shot before it blonds out ,however what is blond to one person is different ,and being told to grind the beans just a little more is still just relative when reading or watching a video can do .

Maybe in the future some roasters will be willing to offer such a course.

Some mornings it's just not worth
chewing through the straps