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Extract: Short, strong grounding in espresso - The Age Epicure

Extract:  Short, strong grounding in espresso

May 20, 2008

No longer satisfied with instant coffee at home, the smart set are going to courses to learn how to use their own espresso machines, reports David Sutherland.

THEY'RE popping up all over the place. In cafes. In roasting warehouses. In private homes. In retail stores. In purpose-built "coffee classrooms". And all so we can create the perfect coffee at home.

"You've got all these people with new espresso coffee machines but many don't know how to get the best out of them," says David Gee, founder of Barista Basics.

Barista Basics runs a three-hour course that is "fairly full on", as Mr Gee puts it. Creating consistently good coffee is very much the focus; rather than "froth and giggles", the aim is to give the students a solid grounding in coffee making so they can master their home machine or take their skills further and go into the trade. After an introduction that explains the history and origins of coffee, and how coffee is grown, cultivated and roasted, students are put onto commercial machines. The hope is that if they can master the more complex machine, most home espresso machines will then be a breeze. There are some domestic machines for practice, too.

Students are shown the most popular ways of serving coffee, from perfectly creamy caffe lattes to short macchiatos and affogatos (espresso served with ice-cream). They are taught how to achieve the perfect crema, and how to froth the milk until it is like white silk. Great emphasis is placed on the importance of freshly ground coffee, and students learn how different-sized coffee grounds can affect the flow of water through the coffee in the machine, and therefore the taste.


It's a familiar story. Many of the classes around town grew from pressure by consumers who were disappointed with their home espresso making. Others developed as value-added selling tools for coffee brands and machine manufacturers - a lesson often comes with a machine. Most courses provide machines to practise on, and many allow people to bring their own machine.

According to market research organisation GfK Australia, sales of home espresso machines have increased by about 10% in the past five years. More interestingly, perhaps, during that time sales of home coffee grinders have increased by 46%. This suggests that people are heeding the advice of industry professionals.

What you need at home
� Espresso machine
� Coffee grinder
� Stainless-steel milk jug
� Milk thermometer
� Spatula
� Tamper
� Airtight container for beans
� Cool, dark place for storing beans - the cupboard is better than the refrigerator or freezer.

There are too many home barista schools to list them all. But here are some of the better or more promising ones we came across:

Barista Basics, Shop 3A, Level 1, Paramount Retail Centre, 108 Bourke Street, city, 1300 366 218

coffee class


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