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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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Thursday I visited the Washington, D.C. Counter Culture Coffee Training Center. I arrived around 9 to meet Alex and Konrad, who provided the instruction for the “Beginner’s Espresso Lab.” Twelve students (myself included) spent the day learning the basics of espresso drink preparation and machine operation, most of them from small shops around the DC area.

The first half of the day was instruction in basic espresso extraction. While I’ve been pulling shots daily for half a decade now, it was a nice refresher. The most useful aspect, really, was getting to spend time pulling shots on a GB5/FB80 (WBC modded), which is quite a bit different from the experience on my Quick Mill. I did also learn that I’m throwing my elbow out when tamping; in general, having a pro watch what I was doing was really useful for guidance. I also learned a few dumb tricks (the tamper sits nicely on the top of my Mazzer, how to set up a towel system for a shop, that you can use the Mazzer doser cover to dump grounds (duh!)), which was nice too.

I had lunch at the Amsterdam Falafel Shop, which was, simply put, amazing. The ambiance is great, and the guy behind the counter was fantastic. The food was incredible. I could eat there every day for lunch, dinner, and after a heavy night of drinking. So good. Go try it.

After lunch, training turned to milk texturing. Texturing on the La Marzoccos is a lot easier than on my Quick Mill. And a lot faster. Learned a lot from this section, I’ve been doing milk texturing wrong for a long time. This is where the class was really worthwhile.

Looking forward to taking the intermediate lab, someday. Sounds like open enrollment (for non-wholesale customers) isn’t very common.

The course ran $150, and I think is worth doing if you’re serious about making espresso at home. And you should be if you spent at least $1500 on your espresso machine and grinder. And if you spent less than that, you shouldn’t be making espresso at home. So really the whole thing should just be a bundle, if you like espresso. And if you think I’m crazy, you’ve never tasted good espresso.