For a while I'd wanted to learn how to make coffee in order to appreciate it more. Last week I noticed a small ad in the local paper advertising a course in coffee making for (what looked like) cheap. I decided now was as good a time as ever, and, not really bothering with comparing it to other courses on offer, booked it on something of a whim. I'm happy I did.
The ad was from Coffee School, who run their courses in a small shop in Fortitude Valley, just a short walk from the train station. The course ran from 10.30am to 4pm on a Saturday, which, by 4pm, felt like the right amount of time.
Paying in advance by phone made the course much cheaper, just $99 (the advertised price). As the website says, this included a lecture, individual practice with a machine, assessment, certification and a complimentary coffee-art booklet.
And this is basically how the day went. After a brief lecture on the different coffees, basic hygiene and good practice, excitingly, it was straight to the machines. We made seven different coffees, each one being judged by the trainer. Then we made them again, and then again, and could make as many as we were able to in the time allotted. This really helped with getting used to the physicality and delicacy of making, say, a well balanced latte or macchiato, and gave a freedom to experiment and make a mess. One downside I noticed, however, was that the trainer wasn't so easily accessible for one-on-one guidance, as the class was quite large, maybe 15-20 students per the one trainer.
Re-visiting the website for this review I noticed they offer this: 'Once you have completed the Professional Barista Course you may return to practice for free!' I haven't availed myself of this yet, but still being a little unsure of my milk heating and frothing technique, and not quite having the decorative foam-art looking very decorative, I imagine this gives me the perfect opportunity to get in some practice, without the pressure of having a customer to satisfy.
As I understand it, I'm now formally certified to work as a barista anywhere in the country. Coffee School also run the course in Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth, which reassures me that it's course is truly a national one.
I did the same course myself a couple of years ago and wasn't overlly impressed with it myself. Like you, I found the classes were way too big and you couldn't get more than a few moments with the instructor. I ended up writing to the management with my grievances and was given another day of training for free with another instructor. Whilst I found the next instructor more helpful, I still found myself floundering a bit because their were again too many students vying for her attention. The coffee school should have smaller classes (5-10 max). The students would get so much more out of it and feel more confident. I wouldn't even think of approaching a coffee shop/cafe with one day of experience. I don't think you would last very long in a high pressure job like that with little/no experience
My daughter completed the 1 day Barista Course in May 2014 and travelled from the Gold Coast to their Brisbane Office. Unfortunately she accidently threw her certificates away within a week of attending the course and when I made inquiries as to reprints, they wanted $40 per certificate = $80 total. I was flabbergasted at what they call their "Administration Cost." Based on this I wouldn't recommend this money hungry small business.