Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Barista course at London School of Coffee

I first heard about the London School of Coffee from my good friend Won a few years ago - we had both just finished our pastry course at Ferrandi and respective stages in Paris. He stayed in Europe for a few months extra to attend some courses at LSC before heading home. I have never been a big coffee drinker myself but am acutely aware that there are many people out there who are. I therefore decided to enroll on a course at LSC in order to educate myself on all things coffee.

The course I took was a 3-day VRQ City & Guilds Barista qualification. Courses are limited to 6 people per class due to the size of the classroom but it also means that there is great access to the trainer and enables each student to have plenty of time on the coffee machines for practical work. The course is pretty intensive and covers a lot of ground: Coffee (everything from how it is harvested to roasting to cupping of filter coffee), espresso (from coffee beans to milk foaming), tea, chocolate and blended drinks. Our trainer was a guy called Ben Townsend who is also the owner of The Espresso Room, an independent cafe on Great Ormond Street in Bloomsbury. It was great to have a trainer who was an experienced barista training us. The thing that really made the course for me was all the anecdotes that peppered our 3-days about the coffee scene in London, who the key players were and the trials and tribulations of opening up a business - it really did give me a great insight into the independent cafe scene. I was also really taken aback at how open the coffee community is; the norm is to share information freely with others which felt really refreshing.

All in all, I really enjoyed the course and met some interesting people to boot. My knowledge of coffee has vastly improved, I feel like I have just learnt how to speak a whole new language and am confident on what to look for going forward, be it coffee beans, equipment, etc....a very worthwhile course :)
Our "classroom"

Coffee grinder plus remnants of our cupping session

 Mini roaster

My 1st attempt at a latte :)



Dezzy said...

hey Chan,

I am interested in taking a coffee course at LSC this summer,too. I am just wondering what the biggest difference is between the VRQ course you took and the basic/intermediate barista courses they also offer? I have no experience in making espresso drinks at all and I would like to learn from their courses for my future goal of opening my own cafe.Thank you!

Little Chan said...

Hi Dezzy,
The VRQ course is a 3-day course which actually includes the material covered on Basic Barista course. VRQ goes into more detail about the background of coffee, as well as touching upon tea, chocolate and smoothies. You also sit an exam to attain City and Guilds qualification at the end of the course.

Basic Barista course is just one day and requires no prior experience (neither does VRQ)
I think the Intermediate requires some prior knowledge of being a barista.

If you are interested in opening your own cafe, LSC also offer a "Starting a Coffee Shop" course - 2 days which also includes Basic Barista course training as one of the days.

Hope this helps! :)
(If not, you can always contact the lovely Gayle at LSC)

Dezzy said...

Hi Chan,

Thank you very much for the information! I will contact them once my trip is more settled.



Little Chan said...

You're most welcome Dezzy!
Best to book as far in advance as poss as the class numbers are small and the classes do fill up quick -good luck!