SCAE UK Northern Barista Jam

Today was the first barista jam run by the SCAE UK and the fledgling UK Barista Guild.  We held it up in our offices at La Spaziale.

It was a lot of fun, though I am pretty shattered now.  We decided to divide people up into small groups and then run rotating workshops to make sure everyone got a lot of practical time doing whatever they were supposed to be doing.  We ran four different workshops:

Latte Art (run by Simon Robertson)

Simon talked about milk, techniques, equipments and all things latte art.  There was quite a range in skill levels present from seasoned barista trainers through to those who had only been in the industry a fortnight.  This didn’t stop anyone from pouring some pretty stuff:

A nice mid pour shot

Not bad if you’ve only been a barista 2 weeks!


Simon mid explanation

Single Origin Espresso (run by me)

We set up three rigs for this session, and put a different coffee in each grinder.  Pairs then had 20 minutes on each machine to brew the coffee as many different ways as possible (faster/slower, updosed/downdosed, hotter/cooler) before they had to rotate onto the next machine.  After this they then had to create a blend and compete to serve the best possible espresso.  I got a few really great shots.

The coffees were Fazenda Cachoeira de Grama Yellow Bourbon (Brazil), Finca La Fany Bourbon (El Salvador) and a Kalosi (its traceable down to the co-op but like many coffees from that region it gets a bit sketchy after that!)

Emily and Miranda pull some shots

Mid pour, fairly light roasted La Fany

Typical mess mid blending

Introduction to Cupping (run by Anette Moldvaer)

Anette talked about the basics of setting up a cupping, which things it was important to keep constant and why, and how to put on a cupping in your shop for either staff or customers.  After that they cupped 6 coffees (all quite different), 2 of which (the Cachoeira and la Fany) people had tasted during the espresso blending.

Getting stuck into the cupping

Anette talks about the cupping

A spoonful of coffee


Introduction to Roasting (run by Steve Leighton)

Steve brought along two types of sample roaster – a small electric Probat and a double barrel gas fired one.  Having had a brief presentation on what is actually going on with the coffee during the roast the workshop group worked together to produce three different roasts of three different coffees (a light, a medium and a dark) which would be judged at the end.  This got a bit smoky but I think was a favourite amongst a lot of people attending (and not just cos Steve gave everyone chocolate)

Checking the roast on the Probat

A dark roast for the competition

Some of the greens for the roasting (no prizes for guessing the prep method)


After everyone had finished and made their way home, and most of the machinery cleaned down Steve Leighton, Anette and I had a little treat.  Steve had bought the pack of three top Panama coffees as green from Sweet Marias and very kindly brought us along some to cup so the three of us cupped this much hyped coffee (for Anette and I the first time we had done so).

I don’t really know what to say about it, or whether it was right to cup it knowing what it was as I dipped my spoon in.  I can’t think of another coffee I have had that has tasted as little like coffee.  Lemony, fruity, utterly weird goodness.  I was impressed.  I can’t every imagine drinking a coffee like that casually.  I took a little home to very (very) careful aeropress at some point tomorrow.

Freshly roasted Esmeralda

Steve breaks

Overall it was a great day.  I feel I ought to write more, but right now I am pretty tired and should just go to bed (and enjoy the extra hour of sleep tomorrow!)

[tags]barista, barista jam, espresso, coffee, roasting, cupping, coffee cupping, single origin espresso, latte art[/tags]

4 Comments SCAE UK Northern Barista Jam

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  2. Dan Mottishaw

    James, Thanks for the great day yesterday. Def. learnt a lot. Oh yeah thanks for the flattering photo!

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