Coffee. I just love the stuff. So a masterclass at Artisan coffee shop in Ealing lured me as much as the gorgeous aroma of a smooth latte first thing in the morning.
Artisan Coffee School runs various classes from their shop on New Broadway. From teachings on how to set up your own coffee shop, to various levels of barista training and lessons in latte art, they cater to just about every coffee lover’s needs.
Plus, it’s set at the back of their very lovely shop that’s teeming with locals who recognise a good cup of Joe. So it’s nice that you feel part of the shop during your visit. Plus you can delve into some of their tasty treats before or after your class.
I opted for the Home Brewing Masterclass, a 90-minute session covering the various coffee brewing techniques, plus the science behind it.
And boy, is coffee scientific!
Our class was taken by coffee expert Chris, who’s worked his way up the barista ranks through many years with the Artisan coffee shop family. I think we may have agreed during the class that he may even have earned himself hipster baristas status. Because being a barista these days is pretty hipster, right?!
Chris began with talking us through the various tasting notes a highly experienced barista can detect from coffee.
The more layers you can detect from the coffee, the more experienced your palate is.
We began by tasting various coffee beans that had been ground and simply added to hot water. We were taught to ‘break the crust’ by taking a spoon to separate the thick layer of ground coffee on the surface. We were then told to take a small amount of the liquid on our spoon and quickly ‘slurp’ it (inhale, almost) and allow it to travel across the tongue.
After a few attempts, I’d become an expert slurper.
Then, once I’d switched on my tastebuds and began concentrating, I managed to distinguish mellow from more full-bodied coffees and pick up sour, bitter and enzymatic flavours.
We also learnt that the same coffee bean (e.g. the El Salvador coffee bean from the Kilimanjaro range) can be prepared in two very different ways. Each achieves a very different flavoured cuppa.
One goes through the natural coffee process where the coffee cherries are processed without machinery and dried in the sun, leading to a less acidic cup of coffee. And the pulped natural type is where the cherries are skinned and dried before the fruit layer is removed using machinery, to achieve a drink that has much more body.
Here are some other amazing facts I can wow you with….
Barn Coffee is the bomb in the coffee drinking world. It hails from Berlin and was brought to Artisan when Chris discovered it during a trip over there.
Caravan – as many of you coffee aficionados will know – is also getting lots of airplay for being among the top notch coffee roasters in London. You can find their shops in Exmouth Market and the Granary Building in Kings Cross. I’ve yet to pay them a visit, but it’s firmly on my coffee shop list now.
The smell of coffee is referred to as the aroma when it’s wet and the fragrance when it’s dry.
There are four key factors you can tweak in the coffee preparation that will affect the end product.
– initial water temperature when it comes into contact with the beans
– water to coffee ratio
– grind size of the coffee beans
– time of extraction
If any of these are imbalanced, there’s danger of the coffee becoming too sour or too bitter. (see table below)
There are various methods of extraction you can use when making a cup of coffee
– Drip/Gravity method (as in an espresso or filter coffee machine or V60)
As an expert barista, it’s Chris’s job to come up with the formulas (using the four key factors mentioned above) for all coffee preparation methods…
…hence why the coffee workshop is filled with all sorts of top-notch gadgets, from measuring scales and thermometers to top of the range kettles that will heat the water to the exact water temperature you need.
Abi from Food for Think and I both tried the V60 – a ceramic cup which is placed over a glass cannister and uses the drip method.
After preparing the water to the precise temperature, we were given a timer, and the exact time in which we needed to evenly pour the water through.
We then waited nervously, for Chris to give us his expert opinion.
I think he was impressed.
But the other participant in our class wowed him with his cuppa, prepared using the aeropress – the ‘in vogue’ piece of home brewing equipment right now.
I was quite content with my efforts though and felt like I’d absorbed so much coffee wisdom by the time the class had come to an end.
If you’re interested in going, I’d highly recommend it. Chris is a fount of knowledge and it’s a really interesting class to attend, coffee hipster, er I mean pro, or not.
Until next time x
For more information about Artisan Coffee School, go to their website.
Artisan Coffee School, 32 New Broadway, Ealing, London, W5 2XA
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I was a guest of the Home Brewing Masterclass on behalf of a review I was writing for Our Man On The Ground. Have a read of my article on the OMOTG blog, here.