Saturday was going to be a great day; I had an invite to hang out with fellow blogger babes, and attend my first ever barista lesson at 200 Degrees Birmingham. The day didn’t start exactly as planned because my phone died, meaning I slept through my alarm, so dry shampoo, blusher, and lipstick were my saviour. I managed to inhale a mug of tea on the way to the coffee shop, which helped to pull me out of the foul mood and silence my husband has the joy of dealing with each morning. I stumbled in, greeted some lovely faces, and ordered my first latte of the day; this is the second that things started getting better because I knew that my low caffeine levels were going to be given a much-needed boost. Having visited 200 Degrees on multiple occasions, I also knew that my latte would be smooth, with no bitterness, and with plenty of that kick I needed to wake up my lazy eye.
We were lucky enough to be able to go and choose something to eat from the array of baked delights at the counter, so I went with a seeded croissant with mozzarella and pesto. It was banging; classic flavours hugged by a flakey and soft croissant, sprinkled with toasty-flavoured seeds. Coupled with my coffee; the comforting carbs and fat helped to put me at ease, and I could fully embrace the warm atmosphere of the venue. It was pretty busy (as usual), and it had the gentle alertness that I love about certain coffee-focused establishments, where good people are getting perky from caffeine. It was like the coffee shop equivalent of the 7up guy from the 90s, and I appreciate that shiz.
I obviously enter coffee shops with tunnel vision towards what I want to eat and drink, because I’d never noticed the massive “Barista School” signs on the window and back wall of 200 Degrees, but they are there for a reason. After finishing our food and drinks, we headed downstairs to a room full of coffee machines, a lovely man called Alex, tasteful exposed brick, and a PowerPoint presentation at the ready. I was
hyped caffeinated, and excited to learn more about coffee.
I learnt way more about how coffee is sourced, the process to get the beans ready, and the science behind everything, than I thought I would. I wish school had been this engaging. I was picking up teeny bottles of various aromas that you find within coffee, checking out the scent wheel for reference, and putting my geography skills to the test too (I have zero, by the way). We were told the story of Kaldi the Goat Herder; if you’re into coffee, then this is the guy we all have to thank (allegedly). Alex was fun, informative, and answered our questions about all of the above. Listening to people talk about what they love is always a great experience, and this was no different. Then, the tasting commenced.
We were taught the difference between a good and bad espresso as Alex introduced us to the machines, and the beginning of the coffee-making process. No “expressos” here. It was so interesting to see how the smallest thing can affect the final taste of your drink, and it made me appreciate what baristas create even more. I was several sips in and feeling buzzed. I think this was the point when I took a selfie with a coffee machine, and the jitters started to make an appearance. It was glorious. Don’t do drugs kids, do coffee. Then, we all got a chance to grind our own coffee beans (Bite Your Brum’s first attempt was brilliant), and use the machines to create espressos. I managed not to burn myself, which is a miracle. I kept sipping espresso. I felt so alive.
Next, it was the bit that I was most excited about; the milk. I was convinced that I’d be great at coffee/milk art, and with caffeine pulsing through my very soul; I was
overly confident and ready to show off my skills. I watched Alex carefully as he went through the process of steaming the milk, told us what it should look like, and showed us the hypnotic pouring technique several times.
Then, it was our turn.
Okay, so my latte art could use a little practice. I tried to make a heart by the way. I’d failed before I even poured because my bubble were too big, and that steam made me nervous. I thought this would be like my superhero origins story, where I’d consumed so much caffeine that the chemicals in my blood did something exciting, and I’d become incredible at everything. It wasn’t my origins story (but I’m sure that’s gotta happen soon). However, I had a lovely time non-the-less. There is an advanced latte art course; however, it’s not worth going until you’ve learnt the basics first. As I said before, each step of the process is crucial to the taste, texture, and overall success of the final cup of coffee; no matter what style you prefer. So, start from the bottom (anyone else hearing Drake right now?) and learn your Arabica from your Robusta before you get all cocky and caffeinated, like I did.
Then, it was time to soak up some of the coffee with lunch, so we headed back upstairs to check out the freshly made selection of wraps, baguettes, quiches, salads, and cake. I went for a falafel wrap, and it was delicious. A soft wrap enveloped the earthy falafel mixture, along with the crunch of some veg; yum. It was served to us when we were back downstairs, and Alex continued to make us coffee to try. We tasted (and loved) one that had been filtered with sugar; I managed to get the last few slurps, and was done. Like, Romeo Dunn. I was full of food, and absolutely ready to power talk at anyone who’d listen (lucky old Marv).
Before we left, we got certificates! Yaaaaaaay! Alex humoured me and agreed to present it with a graduation-style handshake; what a guy (I think he’s used to manic over-caffeinated students). I’d had such a great day, and I’d thoroughly recommend it to anyone who loves their coffee. A huge thank you to Alex and 200 Degrees for the experience, and Emma, Laura, George, and Charlene for the wonderful company.
Peace, love, and steam, Fay x
*I was invited by Emma to be her guest to go and check out the Barista Basics Course at 200 Degrees Birmingham, the food, drinks, and education were all complimentary. All words, opinions, and images very much my own (I feel like we’ve been here before) x