Monday, June 06, 2005

Coffee Fest - Las Vegas

It’s Monday, 1:10am and I’m writing this listening to the chatter of 28 college students who are “studying” for their finals this week. Coffee Fest – Las Vegas just finished up and I’m replaying the events over and over again in my mind, trying to remember every detail, every persons name, every new product… but I’m getting dizzy trying to remember it all. I’ll start slow.

My weekend began with the, “Hands on Barista Training” workshop. It was about what I expected, “This is a steam wand”… “ This is a portafilter” ooo’s and aww’s coming from some of the people in the crowd. It was basically everything one would cover while training a new employee. Very basic, but very thorough. Tommy, the lead instructor, was very knowledgeable and very capable of breaking down a lot of information into bite sized, easy to chew bits of information that anyone could grasp a hold of. The other instructors, James, Erika and the “tall guy” (sorry, I forgot your name… please note the time above) were also very capable trainers.

Along with the “Hands On” portion of the training, was a small booklet briefly covering the origin of coffee, the trading of coffee, the growth and development of brewing, the evolution of the espresso machine as well as the evolution of the espresso bar, important books that have come out contributing to the industry and a brief segment stressing the importance of community and customer service. Good stuff.

In all, it was a very thorough introduction to the coffee industry. Being that this was the first time Coffee Fest has offered this type of training, I understand that it is in its birthing stage. However, I would love to see a 3 day training program that covers a lot more.
“Hands On Barista Training” is a good “day one” class, but there needs to be an extension for the barista who has been in the business awhile and wants to expand their knowledge on different levels. Offer something along the lines of, “Machine Maintenance and Setup”, and cover basic repair/part replacement, how to set the boiler pressure, how to adjust the pump pressure, shower screen replacement, group head gasket replacement etc. basic stuff that a “Pro” barista should know. How about a class called “Finishing Touches” Cover presentation of espresso beverages, choosing proper cups, the importance of latte art, looking professional behind the bar etc. These are small things that can make a big difference in setting your café apart from the others. How about, “Signature Drink Building” (self explanatory). I would just like to see a more in depth certification program.

I met some really cool people while there.
David Morris of Dillanos Coffee
David Heilbrunn(spelling?) of Coffee Fest
Wally of Wally Biscotti
Reid & Gavin of Zoka Coffee
Sheri of Cup of Excellence
And I finally got to meet Terry Z. of Espresso Parts Northwest. One of the coolest guys ever.

All of these people are absolute class acts. Very nice, humble and willing talk and share with anyone who was willing to listen.

I can’t wait to go to the next Coffee Fest. I’m debating between the show in Colorado or the show in Seattle. Hmmm… Seattle it is! See you there.


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