“Welcome to the wonderful world of coffee” is the phrase that greets us as we open the Fonté Coffee guide used for the barista course that takes place at their Parliament Street café.
The three hours long class, created with coffee enthusiasts in mind, offers a laid-back, fun and educational experience that manages to cover a wide array of topics related to the popular drink and that is ideal for those who wish to improve they coffee-making skills and cultivate their appreciation for one of the world’s most interesting beverages.
James Hogan, manager at Fonté Coffee Ireland and our instructor for the day explains that the Barista Skills & Brew Class is ideal for “someone who wants to get into coffee, either as a personal passion or hobbie, or perhaps to get ready for their first job.” He adds that the company also organises more in-depth trainings for experienced professionals and that depending on the group, it’s possible to adapt the level of complexity.
I was invited to enrol in the class last February. A group of eight coffee lovers was eager to get started at 10am on a Saturday. A welcome cup would be the first of several we’d had the opportunity to taste. The group’s motivation’s to take the class was quite heterogenous: from making the most out a home espresso machine, to learning a highly employable skill for a gap year job or taking the first steps to explore a business opportunity.
First Part: Coffee Theory
We started with a crash course on the most important facts worth learning about coffee: from the world’s key producing regions to the process that turns the bright red cherry from the coffee tree into the beans we know and love.
James also shared some pointers on Fonté Coffee’s history and work philisophy, most importantly the company’s beginnings in Seattle, the epicenter of America’s coffee awakening in the nineties as well as his journey bringing the brand into Dublin slightly over two year ago. You can read a review of their lively Parliament Street shop on TheTaste.
One of the highlights about this part of the class was the level of depth with which some concepts were explained. The impact of the intensity of the roast, the relationship between coffee and milk (as well as dairy alternatives) and the way the finesse of the grinder should be tunned differently depending on the extraction method (ie. a very fine grind for espresso machines versus a thicker texture for French press), all were talked about and explained in a consise and approachable manner.
Before moving on to the next step, we also learned about the rules of espresso, what it takes to make a propper one and the names and recipes of many of the world’s best-known espresso based drinks such as latte, cappuccino, macchiato and some less famous but interesting combinations from accross the globe like a spicy Aztec Mocha or a Turkish Latte.
The Coffee Cupping
Next in the agenda was a coffee cupping. This is a type of coffee tasting done by professionals, in which the aromas, taste and quality of brewed coffee are evaluated. With the help of an aroma wheel and James’ guidance, we inspected and shared feedback on various single origin coffees and blends that are part of Fonté Coffee’s range.
The exercise was done as a group, and the conversation that ensued was very informative and enjoyable.
As the class was given to a small group, we had the time not just to listen to James’ explanations, but to share our thoughts and opinions with each other, in a very satisfying coffee conversation. Any person with an interest in coffee culture will find this to be a big plus about the class’s format.
The last part of the class was the time to roll up our sleeves and make some coffee. James explained and showed the basic steps on how to make espresso like a barista. Then, we moved on to capuccinno, and we saw and learn the tricks to froth the milk and make it smooth and silky.
All students had the opportunity to use the machine and James provided immediate feedback as we went along, helping us improve our technique, hold the milk correclty and stopping at the right time.
The class didn’t stopped at using the espresso machine. As many coffee enthusiasts don’t own this equipment, it was very considerate to include brewing techniques and advice for other methods.
We made and tasted different coffees brewed with French press and filtered, two very affordable and easy ways to get a fine cup at home. We even took home a few tips on how to make coffee cocktails.
In a nutshell
The Barista Skills & Brew Class by Fonté Coffee will suit enthusiastic beginners and people with an intermediate knowledge of coffee. The class trancurrs at a relaxed pace, with a good balance between theory and practice.
James in knowledgeable and friendly, and he has a good instinct for when to let the class engage in coffee talk and when to move things to the next step so we never felt rushed. He mentioned that depending on the group’s level of skill and interest he is able to tweak the class, and that they are able to accomodate groups between 6 to 25 people.
He also added that students are welcome to follow-up with him if they have coffee-related questions andif they need to practice they sometime let him know in advance and drop by the coffee shop outside of peak times.
The class includes a print guide, all the material and a certificate of attendance. You can follow-up with a latte art class, ideal for those coffee lovers who want to take their coffee-making skills to the next level and learn to make visually appealing designs for their cups.
You can enroll in the Fonté Coffee Barista Skills & Brew Class via TheTaste.ie.
Gabriela’s passion for writing is only matched by her love for food and wine. Journalist, confectioner and sommelier, she fell in love with Ireland years ago and moved from Venezuela to Dublin in 2014.
Since then, she has written about and worked in the local food scene, and she’s determined to discover and share the different traditions, flavours and places that have led Irish food and drink to fascinate her.