Anyone out there attended Counter Cultures Barista classes?

Beginner or pro barista, all are invited to share.
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Postby genecounts » Apr 03, 2012, 10:31 am

Would appreciate hearing your impressions. I wanted to attend last month but didn't call soon enough to get into a class.

Would appreciate hearing anyones impressions so I can plan something this fall or winter. I'm talking about something that wouid help me improve as a home barista, not commercial.
Trying to figure out if the idea is a waste of time.

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Postby EricBNC » Apr 03, 2012, 11:17 pm

I went to the Raleigh location for something not related to a class but came away with increased skills after some one on one time with some of the guys while they went about their job of perfecting coffee and espresso.

Those couple hours were like pure gold - I imagine a more structured teaching environment would give even larger increases in skill so, like you, I am considering signing up for one of these classes too.
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Postby AtomicPlayboy » Apr 04, 2012, 10:17 pm

Several months ago I was keen to do this, but the folks who answer the mailbox for the DC contingent of Counter Culture did not seem so enthusiastic about answering my email.

YMMV and I hope it does. I've moved on... trying to get an appointment with someone who is similarly qualified for a bit of high intensity technique refinement. :)

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Postby LaDan » Apr 05, 2012, 1:43 am

genecounts wrote: I'm talking about something that wouid help me improve as a home barista, not commercial.

The question is what are you looking to improve, and in what areas you think you have weaknesses. Based on the answer, this course might or might not be the good fit for you. I'll explain.

It is geared toward a commercial environment. They will teach you to prepare a shot, steam milk, and make the basic rosetta art. Understand that this course is designed for shop owners to send their new baristi for a one day training so that the next day he/she can start pulling shots and make milk drinks. So they teach you to grind into the PF, to level the grounds, tamp and pull. They teach you when to stop the pull (blonding) and to adjust to grinder for the 25 seconds. Then to steam correctly and pour a rosetta. That's it. You have all the rest of the day to practice and practice, taking turns on the machines with the others.

What they don't teach you is to dial in a shot. (I guess because in the shop environment there will be another person who'd do that for the shift). Point is, they want you to practice and practice the basics (more like, your shop owner wants someone else to teach their new barista to a point where they can start preparing drinks for customers). You see the difference?

I think, for a home barista, we pretty much get the basics right here in this forum. What a home barista will want is the dial in and to learn to recognize flavors, defects, and how to correct them and to dial in the espresso beans into their best potential. For that reason, that course (Beginner Barista) is not exactly what you might want. CC might have courses for that, but it is definitely not the Beginner Barista one, and you can't take an advance course before taking their basic.

I think your best bet will be to find a shop's manager or a head barista to come and give you a couple of hours one on one. Either at your home, or at his/her shop.

Don't get me wrong, their course is very good. If you want to get the basics to the level of a working beginner shop barista and practice pulling shots and doing art with trainers for hours, this course is A+.

If you'll ask me blindly if I'll say to take it or not, I'll say take it. It can't hurt, that's for sure.

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Postby shawndo » Apr 05, 2012, 5:23 pm

I never did this, but wish I did when starting out. I think it might have been a good opportunity to see how much of the equation is Me and how much is the equipment. Going before you spend all the money on equipment might be worth the time.
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Postby genecounts » Apr 05, 2012, 9:34 pm

This is really good insight guys and I appreciate it.

Here I am on a lever tonite and using a Pharos. This is the epitome of "dialing in 101", actually a graduate course. "Beginner Barista" would definitely be a waste of time.
Didn't realize they have prerequisites.

It is so much fun doing and questioning...and getting rapid feedback much research going back several years on these forums learning the intracasies of the grind, controlling temp and even roasting. Learning how to blend to bring out the differences.
Seeing different set-ups and ways of doing.

Thanks, glad I didn't waste time.

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Postby da gino » Apr 06, 2012, 10:24 am

I think the points above are accurate - in particular it is directed at a commercial environment, but I took the class when I was just about to make the jump from a lever to a pump machine and loved it. I had read a lot here, and knew quite a bit of what they taught, but I still learned a lot. It was well organized and they were more than welcoming to home baristas. My favorite part, in fact, was getting to know so many cool people at Counter Culture. My class was a little different from the one described above, but had a lot in common.

They also were more than welcoming of questions, so you have people who really know and live coffee willing to answer detailed questions and in that sense anyone could learn new stuff even an expert who knew everything that was officially in the "lesson plan" because they would tailor make it to you on some level.

I do not think you would find it was a waste of time.