From latte art to well-pulled espressos, Time Out tests a coffee-making course in the City
This week, we put a coffee-making class through the mill. But how did it measure up – smooth and strong, mild, or just a long grind? Roopa Gulati reports from the coffee front line
Tried and tasted
‘The Coffeesmiths Collective – The Art and Science of Espresso’.
To brew espressos like the professionals (and make pretty patterns over flat whites) after one evening class in the City. But to practise at home and get real benefit from the course, you’ll need your own espresso machine, or access to one.
£45, for one session of two hours.
‘Designed for people who have an interest or a passion for coffee and want to learn the key principles and techniques of espresso coffee making. After covering foundational theory (sic), you’ll develop your espresso technique under the personal instruction of our skilled baristas.’
What we did
Four espresso virgins met in the brightly-lit café; two hours later, we were talking pressure bars, 30 second runs, and stretching milk as if we were born into it. All thanks to the expertise of Coffeesmiths Collective co-founder, Kiwi Chris McKie. He’s a pro at assessing a good grind (lots of rough edges on the beans to extract maximum flavour), the precise coffee weight needed for an espresso (20.4g), and he runs this hands-on masterclass on key techniques. Flying the flag for New Zealand, we also learn how to froth milk for flat whites, using the espresso machine’s steam spout until the dairy becomes stretchy and meringue-like. And then there’s the drama of creative artwork. I made a sci-fi Klingon – an original.
Coffee geeks of all ages and backgrounds who already own, or use, espresso machines.
The gift of being totally 100% wired after a two-hour evening session – four flat whites and two espressos later, it was a legal high.
One of life’s lessons: ‘Just because an espresso has a mile-high crema, don’t expect it to be a memorable experience’.
This course is great if you want to refine your espresso technique. The catch, of course, is that you need an espresso machine, and good ones cost hundreds of pounds. Mine might have to wait until that lottery win. But many of McKie's top tips are handy even when making regular filter coffee with stovetop makers and cafetieres, as so much depends on the grind and the temperature of the water.
Where do I find it?
The Coffeesmiths Collective, c/o The Liberty of Norton Folgate, Units 8 & 9, 201 Bishopsgate, EC2M 3UG; http://coffeesmiths.co.uk/home-barista/coffee-school. Shoreditch High Street
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