I LOVE coffee! I also love the cafe culture and scene that has ever growing popularity in our towns and cities. I consider myself a bit of a coffee snob, looking down on the national and global chains, preferring the superior coffee taste and ambience offered by the independent coffee shops. However, I met some serious hard core coffee lovers today (I can’t tell you what they thought of my admission to owning a Nespresso machine) and I learned an enormous amount about the ritual of brewing a proper cup of coffee.

I booked a place on Food Sorcery’s Barista Workshop as I wanted to learn how to make a latte that would look great on my food photography shots (more on this later). The workshop took place at their cookery school in Didsbury and was led by Gavin aka @brewxtillxdeath on Instagram. Gavin has been making and serving coffee for almost twenty years and has opened his own coffee shops, the latest being in Lloyds Bank in Manchester.

He started us off with a cold brew, served with ice and tonic water. Bizarre but I’m told very refreshing and increasingly popular (I have had an aversion to cold coffee ever since a childhood rough sea trip mixed with strong cold coffee ended badly).

Luckily for me we quickly moved on to various ways of brewing hot coffee. Well, when I say ‘quickly’ it was a lot more involved than chucking a Nespresso capsule into the machine and frothing some milk!

Making the perfect cup of coffee involves weighing, grinding, timing and lots of equipment I’ve never seen before. It was a new world of coffee jargon and techie gadgets that my husband would have loved!

Who knew that you needed special scales (“the sort drug dealers use to precision weigh their product” quipped an innocent-looking Australian lady…) to weigh out 18g per cup?

We were also introduced to a V60 and a specialist kettle with a gooseneck spout for targeted pouring. My Christmas list grew longer as the workshop went on.

Gavin shared lots of great tips on where to buy the best coffee beans from and then how to combine the right amount of ground coffee and water to get the taste just right. We learned that we had to ‘bloom’ the coffee, time the ‘extraction time’ to perfection and ‘stretch’ the milk.
We all had a go at steaming the milk and then at creating latte artwork… with varying degrees of success. I’d love to say that the above tulip was my own work but unfortunately my ‘masterpiece’ required some artistic license to interpret.
I am still slightly wired by all the coffee I drank this morning, but would highly recommend this workshop to any coffee-heads or would-be baristas. I don’t think there’s anything Gavin doesn’t know about coffee and he’s extremely passionate about it, as evidenced by his tattoo.
At home I had a go at my own latte art using my totally unsuitable Nespresso machine. Needless to say it was less than impressive. However, I’ve decided to blame the weather, as I was told by an expert today that the weather does affect coffee! It will be a while before my latte art will be good enough to grace my food photography shots. Until then I’ll leave it to the experts!
I’m running a workshop at Food Sorcery in May, where you will get the opportunity to cook, photograph and eat Mexican food! To book and for more information click here.

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