Chances are good you make or at least drink a cup of coffee every day. Has that morning ritual gotten you curious about the whole process or eager to get a handle on latte art? You’re in luck, as there is no shortage of classes for the coffee-obsessed—from beginner through master barista—available to you.
Abbotsford Road Coffee Specialists, which recently opened in Gowanus, Brooklyn, is an Australian import with the 2016 Golden Bean award under its belt—er, apron. The concept was developed by Phillip Di Bella, founder of Di Bella Coffee, Australia’s top specialty coffee roaster, with the goal of providing the finest coffee without pretension in order to help cafés and restaurants become profitable coffee destinations. They offer four classes, free to the public and one hour long each, which you can sign up for at their site.
The first is Introduction to Specialty Coffee, which is designed to give everyday coffee lovers a deeper understanding. This class will cover the coffee process, from farms and crops to roasting and serving, the importance of relationships and sustainability when sourcing, basic cupping demonstrations (the industry’s method of evaluating coffee quality), the difference between light and dark roasts, and all other matters between bean and mug.
The second is for aspiring professionals: Barista Skills is designed to upgrade a barista’s current skills or help one land their next job. This will cover pouring espresso, an introduction to the espresso machine and grinder, grid adjustments, milk steaming and pouring, speed training and latte art basics.
The third is Latte Art, which is ideal for experienced baristas or people who are diehard Instagrammers who want to get their foam-art game on point. They will focus on improving their pours and practicing latte art skills. The last is Alternative Brewing, which is a “social session for people who use syphons (a tube that draws liquid and is used in coffee creation), v60 (a kind of coffee drip), aeropress (the coffee brewing device invented back in 2005), or anything else to brew coffee.” If you know what any of those words mean, that class is definitely for you. If not, it’ll cover those different kinds of brewing equipment and their range of “single origins.”
Joe Coffee also offers a wide variety—just make sure you select a New York–based class, as their Philadelphia classes are listed on the same page—from two-hour-long classes for $60 to six-hour-long day classes for $150. They even offer an at-home classes with varied prices, where the bean expertise comes to you and focuses on the topic of your choice, from manual brewing to espresso technique and everything in between. (Email [email protected] for pricing and details.)
All of their other classes take place at their “Pro Shop” at 131 West 21st Street in Manhattan. Some of the most unique offerings are Explorations in Roasting, where attendees meet at the Pulley Collective on the Brooklyn waterfront in Red Hook, where Joe Coffee roasts 100 percent of their beans. The class is led by the group’s Green Buyer, Ed Kaufmann, and lasts two and a half hours for $75. The One Day Barista Workshop at six hurs is $150.
Here comes that latte art again: Milk 2 is a fun class to learn latte art and is two hours long for $60 Their most popular class is the Monthly Barista Course: eight times each month, customers become students and meet with instructors twice per week for two-hour sessions. At the end of the month, they receive a certification, and it’s one of Joe Coffee’s longest standing classes to date. For those 16 total hours, it’ll cost you about $600.
Lastly, head to Long Island City’s Birch Coffee for classes designed for “coffee aficionadi” of all ranges. The coffee classes are led by co-founder Paul Schlader, a Certified Q Grader (a designation that makes him one of a handful of coffee experts in NYC). Paul discovered he had an acute palate for detecting flavors and complexities, which is what encouraged him to become a Licensed Q Grader, a rigorous certification from the Coffee Quality Institute that allows him to grade coffee. Today, Paul oversees all of Birch’s green coffee purchasing, buying from farms all over the world. The small-batch, manual roasting takes place exactly where the classes do, at their Roast House.
Options include Barista Training & Technical Skills; Coffee 101; and Home Brewing and Public Coffee Cuppings. Barista Training and Technical Skills teaches espresso theory and basics, equipment ops and maintenance, milk texturing, latte art mastery and drink assembly. The class runs for three hours and costs $225.00. Coffee 101 & Home Brewing will learn you the history of coffee and the art of grinding coffee. Participants will also experience and learn the tree home brewing techniques: Chemex, Drip, and French Press. At the end of the class, everyone will receive a home brewing kit. The class runs one hour and costs $95.00. Lastly, Public Coffee Cuppings covers the basics of how to cup coffee. Here participants will taste the various coffee beans and learn the meanings of the different flavors. The class costs $75.00.
Birch Coffee’s “ethos” is to make the coffee industry feel more transparent and accessible to all consumers, to help consumers learn about where their coffee comes from and hopefully gain an appreciation for specialty coffee.
Now go forth and get caffeinated, with a bit more know-how.