Day 1, ABC Barista Training

As my body woke me at 4:30a PDT to tell me it was time to get up, I continued to wrestle myself to sleep until about 5:30a. Got up to take a shower in yet another hotel that seems to think the average man is 5’5. Maybe I need to start asking for a tall persons room. Anyhow, after getting dressed I went to grab myself some breakfast in the hotel. I wanted a light fare and had a great little cereal, berries and yogurt recommended by a very friendly wait-staff member.

Getting out of the hotel I was met with a brisk morning. Walking down Stark st. I was faced with the full glory of the sun. It was another beautiful day in Portland. However, I got lost again. Trying to find the trolly was not as simple as I thought, or I interpreted the directions wrong. Either, or, I decided it was only 6 blocks to the school, I can do that. Dur. It was a nice walk. Portland has some beautiful architecture.

I was a little late for the coffee meet and greet, and I had forgotten the class actually started Monday with the business section of content. After shaking hands with Austin he handed me a beautiful espresso drink with a dark lucious crema and very tight lined full rosetta. Introductions went around our group of 10 and we got started with a viewing of Espresso 101. This was a new version than I had seen so it was nice seeing their content updated. After the video we went into the lab and got a detailed breakdown of how to take apart, clean, diagnose, and rebuild a Mazzer grinder. Then Austin showed us very simple and effective way of redialing the grind within a matter of seconds. That was an excellent set of tips I will not soon forget.

After this we tore in to the machina around us. We were taught the science side of what was occuring throughout the espresso process. This was then demonstrated that the current methods of teachings were not always correct. We learned to finess the grind. Forget the details (40lb pressure) of the tamp and you really do get the same result with less effort. Less effort equals faster turn arounds and less repetative injury potential the American tamp process can create. I’m really excited to take this back to my wife who will now find creating espresso on our Oscar much much easier.

We broke for lunch and as a group went to Khell’s Irish Pub/Eatery. It is great our group sticks together since we all get to chat with each other on our plans, where we are, what we want, compare notes, its just a really good bonding experience. Everyone here brings a different perspective to the table. We’ve got an international opener, a roaster, kiosk, drive through, etc. Lots of perspectives are offered here and everyone is in a different leg of their process.

After lunch we got into milk and all the understanding behind the steaming process. We have a lot of newbies in our class and I think everyone had a good milk froth within just a few trials. Even though I know my Oscar at home is good. These three group machines are just quality jets. 8-15 seconds to get the frothed milk you want for art. That just kicks ass. Once everyone had torn through about 5 gallons of milk you could see the eagerness in their eyes to combine what they had learned. Austin and Matt let us loose and much trial and erroring was to be had. With every unknown Austin would critique and explain where along the process one might have been derailed. It’s nice having the size of class we have and how personalized it feels. No one is unapproachable and you can really get to know these guys and the business/process of coffee.

Time flew, we regathered about 4:30 in the classroom for a breakdown of espresso nomenclature, and how marred it has become by those large companies who like to call something it isn’t. A cow is a cow, not a duck. A Macchiato is a small drink, not some large carmel thing. More questions, more answers, we banged out a cleaning of the lab and off we all wandered to our hotels. A few of us arranging to meet up at 7p for an Italian dinner.

Dinner was hillarious. We get to Pazzo Ristorante at 7:30 and what, you can’t fit 10 people in without a reservation? Ha Ha Ha! We scoff and take over their bar. They forgot we were there for dinner, so after a few drinks and a light head we finally got the attention of our waitress to order. Three hours later, full stomachs, sore asses, we rose and left. Oh, the humor for the dinner was I had forgotten my wallet, and thus my room key, in my room. Thaaanks Matt for catching my tab. So instead of going out for a few drinks afterwards, I felt it best to reclaim my room under sobriety. Somehow I don’t think the hotel would have been as friendly if I couldn’t see straight. Got in my room, jumped on the bed, chatted with my lovely wife, resynchronized the day with Jeff, and that was the day. After I settled I realized how much we had done and how tired I was.

This is great fun,