I was thoroughly impressed with the knowledge and array of teachers. There were so many reputable instructors who have made an impact on the coffee industry as a whole; it was quite humbling. The teachers were also involved in different fields throughout the coffee industry, some were Roasters, Managers, Q-graders, Creative Directors, or Coffee Competitors. They were all sharing their expertise with us, creating a more holistic coffee individual. I even took classes on subjects that I felt were a blind spot in my coffee knowledge. During my Dissecting the Espresso Machine class, I was able to see inside a Slayer espresso machine to identify parts and diagnose simple errors. I was able to sit and listen to the head roaster of Onyx Coffee Lab while he explained how to profile a coffee roast and that color isn’t always a good indication of flavor development.
Near the beginning of the second day, I realized that there were people from the day before taking the same classes as me and even the teachers were attending other classes and participating when appropriate. The class sizes were only around twenty students, and most were broken up into smaller groups at different stations for an even more hands-on and personal experience. In a way, it felt as though we were all students. We were all learning more, growing together, experimenting, tasting, and discussing how we can make coffee taste better. We diagnosed issues in our machines together and teamed up to make espresso drinks faster and more convenient for our customers. Being a holistic coffee individual is difficult because it’s rare to have access to specific information necessary to master every aspect from growing to processing, from roasting to scoring, from brewing to serving. This event was geared towards giving access to just that. Not only were the teachers super knowledgeable and readily available, but the other people attending the event were also tremendously positive and friendly. A little coffee family.
So, was the event worth it? The travel to Austin, sleeping in a hotel bed, walking around in the humidity, and the price tag? I would say for the right person, definitely. I saw it as an investment. A seed that was planted in me to excel in every aspect of my coffee knowledge. As I grow, I can encourage our staff in their personal coffee education pushing the whole Sacramento coffee scene to excellence. From the simplest of drip coffee orders to crafting the most complicated beverages, I want to ensure that both our coffee and our service remains exceptional. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to creating a perfect café but caring about excellent coffee as well as meeting the needs of our customers helps the whole industry move forward together.