At the heart of some of Wellington's Best Barista Training
1 October 2018
The training room doors slide shut as another budding barista learns the skills to thrive in Wellington’s ‘kickin' caffeine’ scene (as Lonely Planet describes it). At the heart of it all is Emporio’s Melina Payne, our expert barista trainer. We asked Melina about the courses.
Who takes your barista courses?
A range of people, with different levels of experience. Most people have some knowledge, but it’s usually quite basic. Some just want the ability to make better coffee on their machine at home. Others are looking for a barista job and need a certificate to prove they have the skills.
It’s great for high school and university students to get a basic understanding so they can apply for a job. The course is just the start though, everyone needs practise.
We also train students from the Cordon Bleu schools, all their patisserie students do barista training as part of the course. These students usually know nothing before they come to us.
Everyone goes away with knowledge about the beans, the roasting process and what a good espresso tastes like; they can tell the difference between a bad shot and a good one.
So you can tailor your barista training?
Pitching the training just right is very important, I make sure we have a good understanding of the level each person is at.
The courses are only two to three people in size, so that’s perfect for me to share the most possible in the two hours.
Do you encounter many nerves?
Not really, learning to make coffee is such a positive experience. Most people are more excited than nervous. If there are nerves, they usually disappear with a bit of encouragement. It’s a fun thing to learn how to do!
I also remind people of my own experiences, I was terrible when I first started out—it just takes time.
How do the two-hour barista courses start?
I’ll give a broad overview of what we’re going to cover in the session and introduce the machine and the grinder. Both are manual, which I think is important. It allows more intuition.
You need to learn when the coffee is ready and when it’s good. I’ll give a short demonstration of which buttons to press, running through it once quickly, then slower to explain the steps, e.g. the tamp.
I’ll explain the appropriate amount of coffee in the basket, why this is so important and the effect if there’s too much or too little. The student needs to have a solid understanding of how to tamp and when to stop.
Moving on to the machine, at Emporio we work with 18gms of coffee running in the machine for 25-30 sec. We don’t actually time it, again we teach that you need to get ‘a feel’ for when the coffee is ready. There are indicators.
The student has a go at the grinding and letting the espresso pour, it gives them a chance to know how much is too much. We’ll do a few trial runs.
Then we talk about the grinder and how to change the settings, it’s a crucial important component.
For the milk, we make a flat white (least froth), latte and cappuccino (most froth). I’ll get them to do a shot, then I’ll do a milk demo explaining the position of the wand in the jug and what your hands should be doing. It all happens very quickly.
We don’t use thermometers, you need to learn when it’s hot enough; we’re aiming for 65-70 degrees.
Finally, we go through the importance of cleaning, and I’ll demonstrate what’s involved.
You clearly enjoy the course too then?
I love it! It’s my favourite part of my job. I get to see the students evolve from start to finish. If they get that one heart in the latte art, it’s a great moment and wonderful to see them happy.
And then off they go, armed with their barista certificate and free bag of coffee.