Saturday marked my first non-industry coffee making class. It was focused on making Aeropress which I have written about before and I have a lot of feelings about. It’s one of my favourite ways of making coffee, but I think it’s also the best starting point for anyone interested in making filter coffee. A lot of this is because I find Aeropress doesn’t play by a lot of rules. You can explore brewing times, temperatures, stages of water, pressure (kinda) and agitation unlike any other brew device. At the same time, there is a big risk of heavily underextracting your coffee or causing chanelling. As a result, teaching it requires introducing a lot of concepts and swiftly taking them away. I’ve seen classes for brewing at home and in cafes that use equipment that many people do not have too, so I wanted to make sure I had a breville grinder dialled in and ready to go, to make the taste not only easier to understand and interpret, but more relevant to what people will be creating.
I broke the class down into 5 parts: water, grinding, filtration, coffee, ratios & recipes. I think these five parts are very relevant to a lot of coffee education, as each concept may be something a home brewer doesn’t know or understand the significance of. The main struggle here I found was finding a way to talk about the importance of even extraction. It always felt like I was delivering it as a footnote “don’t stir circular too much, otherwise you will get a dome shape and the extraction won’t be even!” “don’t push too hard, otherwise your water will bypass the coffee and dilute your brew!” as if they were the last thing to be worried about. If anyone from the class is reading this, these are really important!! Uneven extraction and chanelling are prime ways for your coffee to taste bad.
Another thing I struggled with was being engaging. A lot of the class was taught sitting down, due to the way the shop had been set up to accommodate another class earlier on. I think standing up and teaching in closer proximity is very necessary to having a more engaging presentation. Coffee is a very tactile thing, and I think getting a better visual idea of what is going on is very important. My seminar on v60 making on Sunday will be done standing up and I think that a more casual and engaging conversation and visual demonstration will follow, but that is one thing that I will have to report on next week.
Earlier in the day we had a session from Teacraft on seasonality of teas, and the way we tend to drink northern hemisphere teas in opposite months to how they are usually designed to be drunk. Despite a load of interesting things and flavours and tastes, one of my major takeaways from my session with Arthur was about conversation style. The talk was hallmarked by a free flowing discussion. If someone wanted further clarification, they got it. If people were happy sitting and enjoying, that’s how it went. I sat a little into a second session too and found the flow was noticably different, with more questions, and less analysing flavour. I wanted to take a piece of that into our session, where I could ask people what they thought about a particular subject, say grinding, and if I found people were happy to not go too in depth, I could spend more time explaining concepts they wanted to know.
Finally, I think coffee events need to stay away from making money. Coffee events that are most successful to me are focused on community, no matter how big or small. It is to my understanding companies that use their time and their platform to share goodness, knowledge and inclusiveness will reap the rewards of better patronage and respect. For a company to do this they have to actually care about levelling the playing field. With this in mind, Sample donated $5 from all tickets to Nature NSW, I matched that donation with $5 of my own to Same Cup, and the rest of the money covered the cost of a retail bag of beans for each customer. I’m not meant to gloat or anything here, I’ve only seen classes that aren’t free or have little benefit for extra money, and avoiding that is something that is important to me in education.
What Was Said
On the next post I’m going to give a bit of a recap of my presentation. This is for anyone who wanted to look back on what was covered, or for anyone to send through their own thoughts about what I included. I will have the four recipes I made at the bottom, and explain why I included them too.
I remember being taught in my year 9 science class that you remember 90% of what you teach to others. This fact has always been something close to my heart, and for that reason I wanted to have a separate post for reflecting on how that class was taught, and another post for what was actually said. In my two months of journaling at home, I’ve learnt that reflections after the fact are more important than anything else. Reflecting on things is like checking your map to see where you went right or wrong. You can’t just focus on the negatives or the positives, you need to focus on both, and the things that were just fine Jimmy xx