It was nothing but love that saw me standing on Elizabeth Street at 10.30am last Saturday, hung-over and sleep-deprived.
It all started when my boyfriend and I got together. I was irresponsible enough to bring my caffeine dependency into the relationship. It soon became apparent that I had created a monster. His house gradually filled with beans, grinders, and machines, and he had started limiting the places he bought his coffee to one-size-only, tiny, unsigned, standing-room-only shops that were up laneways that were off laneways. I started getting into trouble for drinking coffee that he hadn't seen me grind that day. He had become very passionate indeed. And by passionate I mean expensive, and at times irritating. Being that it was my fault however, I did not think I had the right to discourage him.
So for his Birthday, I became an enabler and took him to do a Professional Barista course at the Melbourne Coffee School on Elizabeth Street. The price was very reasonable, the room was small, bare and run-down looking, and did not open until the starting time of the course, and the whole thing was only about five hours so I wasn't expecting much. My expectations were quickly exceeded. In that short amount of time, Ricardo (our extremely authentic instructor) had converted us from a motley crew whose coffee skills did not extend beyond sipping, to a room of Baristas.
From a very knowledgeable and enthusiastic instructor, we learned the perfect milk-frothing technique (the magical "kissing noise"), grinding, tamping, how to spot and avoid over- and under-extraction, and how to prepare every coffee on the menu. Then, after a quick practical and written exam, we all walked out with a nationally recognised qualification.
The following day I bought a coffee from a stand in Chadstone and cringed the entire time it was being prepared. Suddenly I understood. It turns out that, somewhat unwittingly, my real birthday present to my boyfriend was empathy.
It was nothing but love that saw me standing on Elizabeth Street at 10.30am last Saturday, but it was an entirely new love that saw me leave. I now only buy my coffee from one-size-only, tiny, unsigned, standing-room-only shops that are up laneways that are off laneways. I am also investing in my own grinder.
Irrespective of whether you want to start a career in coffee or just love and appreciate it, if you can afford to have bad coffee ruined for you forever and a far more expensive caffeine dependency, I highly recommend the Melbourne Coffee School's Professional Barista Course.