It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a caffeine addict, so when 200 Degrees asked if I’d like to learn more about my favourite bean and how to make good coffee at one of their Barista Schools, I jumped at it.
You can’t learn on an empty stomach, so first we grabbed a spot of breakfast. A round of Peanut Butter Lattes for all, and Mushroom Muffin for me. The muffin was a little stodgy for me, but tasty, and the latte was delicious and sweet. Well fed, it was time to get to work.
You can attend Barista School in Leeds, Nottingham, Cardiff, or where I went, Birmingham. There are two levels of Barista courses, or you can learn about Home Brew or Advanced Latte Art. We settled ourselves in the basement school, and got a taster of both Barista levels from Alex, who does everything from roast the beans himself to acting as Brand Ambassador.
Alex gave us a crash course in all things coffee, from origin, to growth to roast. Brains full of new information, it was time to get hands on. The base of a good coffee starts with the espresso.
We started by grinding beans, and wrestling them into place in the coffee machine basket (a more fiddly task than you’d expect. That part mastered, we went trickier. Milk.
Steaming milk isn’t an easy task. You’re aiming to build some nice froth and get the milk looking glossy, almost like paint. Overdo it, and the milk is ruined. As you work, you’re always listening to the sounds the steamer makes in the milk. It should make a ‘tst tst’ sound, not that awful screeching certain chain coffee shops go for…
Once you’ve got the milk to the right temperate and consistency, speed is key.
You have to be confident and pour fast, and not let the milk sit or you undo all your good work. I wish I could say I’d made the above, but it was Alex. He did use milk steamed by us, showing we had managed to do it properly.
By the end of the session, I was absolutely vibrating with all the coffee I’d drunk, but also felt a lot more knowledgeable about my addiction of choice, and what goes into crafting a good drink. I’d definitely suggest the classes to anyone interested in coffee, or looking to learn some new skills. The session was interesting and really good fun.
Finally, it was time to soak up the caffeine with some carbs. I chose a giant chicken sandwich, which was packed full of filling, and made with fresh, crispy bread. The sausage roll we split was the winner though. Flaky, buttery pastry and enormous, with flavoursome, good quality meat.
A half day Basic Barista School will set you back £75, and you can be a budding barista or just a curious coffee fan.
I was a guest of 200 Degrees, and the course, food and drinks were complementary for the purposes of review. All words, images and opinions are my own.