Espresso School Trainer, Tom Hespe's take on why teaching is its own reward.

Posted by admin in Coffee School

Teaching is its own reward. In my many years as a barista trainer I have never really tired of the process. It’s simple; new names on a list every morning. You never know who is going to join the next class. No doubt this would terrify some people, bore the hell out of others. Me? I’m intrigued by it! I love it. I thrive on it.

Sure, there are a myriad of rules, procedures, traditions and trends that the professional barista must be familiar with but at the end of the day there is a beauty in the simplicity of espresso. People make the coffee using machines. My job is to uncover the most effective way for each individual to understand the beans, the tools and the trade.

It’s safe to say that the Toby’s Estate Espresso School is well established. There’s a lot of history here. You can trace it all the way back to Toby hosting coffee tastings at his mum’s place in the late 1990’s before the Woolloomooloo café and roastery opened. I have trained people from all over the world. Literally. For instance there’s the story of a Mongolian diplomat’s wife who flew to Sydney from Ulaanbaatar to attend three days of training with us in 2012. Her burly bodyguard waited patiently outside the room as we fine-tuned her extractions. Singapore, Korea, Malaysia, Portugal, Ireland, even Italy; sometimes it’s like the UN of espresso in a training class!

Enter Christina and Edwardo. My co-trainer Robby gave me the background on the Spanish couple after he’d trained them the day before for their first two classes. They run a restaurant in Northern Spain, La Bicicleta. Christina is front of house, Edwardo is a chef. His English is limited so she translates for him. They were amazed by the sophistication and quality of the coffee culture they experienced here in Australia and wanted to learn as much as they could on their holiday before returning home.

The Toby’s Estate Level 3 class is all about workflow. A skilled barista must maintain quality at high volumes and fast speeds. This takes practice and attention to detail. Workflow is make or break in a café environment; having the right planning, systems and skills in place is essential.

It was a great class, a lot of laughs and good results. They were thrilled to get some basic rosettas happening and their confidence with grind adjustment and dosing would put a lot of working baristas to shame! Translating the coffee menu was a bit of fun but helped to personalise the experience and hopefully encouraged them with their dream of serving quality espresso at the restaurant. Unfortunately my Spanish is still as basic as ever but I know I’ll be able to get a good coffee next time I’m in Spain!

See you in class!