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School of coffee: the new modules are here!

| 2019-03-26

Last week I presented the history and philosophy of Belco's School of coffee. Without further ado, here is a quick overview of what you can expect in 2017!
If we think about it, the 5-day expert course was a little short for such a complex craft as ours. In coffee culture, you need to look at 60 to 70 growing countries with such a vast varietal diversity, as well as coffee preparation processes... In roasting, incredible changes are happening. The possibility to modify roasting time using the thermostat installed on roasters has been a game-changer. The physical analysis of coffee to create profiles through bean density, water activity, grading... the roasting profile depending on the final extraction... just a few examples which mean that the craft of a roaster has vastly changed over the last few years. And what is to be said about preparation methods... espresso, the Italian depression method and syphon, closed infusion such as the French Press and the Clever Dripper, electric filtered coffee, Chemex and V60. Cold brewing methods are increasingly popular, the new coffee drink with added nitrogen to make a brown ale-like beverage. In short, we had no other choice than to change our training modules by breaking them down into the different occupation-specialist segments carried out in coffee. The initial idea to draw up new training modules was to think of the various roles played in the coffee sector: - What information does a coffee roaster, a salesperson and a buyer/cupper need? - Does a salesperson need to understand thermodynamics or the science behind a roaster's heat? - Does a roaster need a grasp of merchandising in a coffee shop? - Does a lab cupper have to be able to bring to life a sales outlet? It is of course changes in knowledge that are driving us in this direction and for this reason we agree that the best way to make our training courses effective is to create different courses for each line of work.

What is “occupation specialisation”?

Here are a few examples of the profiles and associated training programmes:

> I want to set up in the coffee sector but I have no knowledge.

For those starting out in coffee, I have created a 3-day “Roots” training programme on the fundamental elements needed to start in this line of work. A little bit about roasting, enough to begin using a manual roaster with thermostat. Knowing about heat transfer, different types of roasters on the market, and of course the impact of roasting time when modifying the Rate Of Rise. A little about preparation through a workshop to discover the various preparation methods and their impact in the cup. Cupping too, discovering the wide aromatic profiles of coffees, in terms of both gustatory character and production region. And finally, a lot about coffee culture! You cannot begin in this line of work without a solid knowledge of the factors linked to the terroir which influence the quality in the cup. From genetics with the discovery of the wide range of varietals, to the impact of altitude in the cup, the different drying methods (mechanicals, patio, African beds...) and of course the study of coffee processing. Then, depending on each person's individual role in the company, they can further improve the skills picked up in the Foundation training through the occupation specialist training...

> I am a roaster and I would like to find out about new roasting tools

A 2-day roasting module
has been created to address all issues linked to today's roasters. Impact of the nature of the beans in roasting, cupping roasting profiles of one coffee, impact of development time, which roast for which extraction type, discovery of roasting curve software... To be able to provide a maximum number of answers to these questions, we have three roasters with roasting curve software to test, experiment, take action, correct and of course cup the different coffee samples in the training centre's lab. 

> I am a seasoned roaster and a would like to improve my skill

I have been thinking for a while about a comprehensive training module on roasting. I have created a 5-day practical module on all that can be involved directly or indirectly in the role of a roaster today. The aim is to cover a wide range of roasting subjects. The impact of the process of a coffee, the influence of botanical varieties, creating blends, the impact of degassing and cooling time, development time, the impact of different roasting phases... This training will be above all a moment of exchange between participants and their different experiences in coffee. Most of the time spent together when training will be in front of the roaster, roasting a wide range of samples according to the theme of the day. Each roast will be cupped, assessed and corrected if necessary. In short, 5 days of pure roasting!

> I would like to improve my knowledge across my coffee range

The 2-day Ambassador module is designed for coffee salespeople. The main aim of this module is to give each participant a methodology for the commercial presentation of his or her coffees. Each participant will have the chance to bring his or her own samples and create personalised cupping notes according to how they are roasted. As well as drawing up a cupping guide per coffee, we will also look at taste variations in all types of preparation through practical workshops.


> I would like to bring my store to life using cupping workshops

Before presenting this module, I would like to explain my personal experience. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to work in a coffee store in a shopping street in the city centre. The store opposite my work was a wine cellar. This independent neighbour of mine regularly organised events on wine terroirs. And each time he organised tasting sessions, people came away delighted, with a few bottles of wine, and with the feeling of having spent a special moment with their wine merchant. That pretty much sums up the aim of this 5-day module. The richness of coffee can only move us in that direction. Discovering a producing country through its growing regions, a botanical variety through different countries, the impact of a different preparation methods on a coffee, the impact of the grind on a preparation method... Examples of possible sales events are almost infinite with coffee. In addition to preparing to organise a cupping session, we also tackle important subjects such as merchandising in a coffee shop, the range of coffee on offer at a sales point...

I would like to know about and understand what I'm buying

This 2-day module on green coffee presents the entire methodology of buying green coffee. From purchasing descriptions to studying defect classification systems via the coffee futures market. In this training module we also provide an introduction to green coffee calibration and the implementation of a quality control system necessary in a roasting company. This may seem less seductive than other modules, but the more warning systems in place in your company, the easier it is to ensure consistency.


> I want to fully master and have an effect on my green coffee selection

For me this is a very important training module which is close to my heart, since in the implementation of a coffee quality control system, the main element – which makes our craft so wonderful – is cupping. Each coffee purchased is a coffee cupped! Through tasting games, blind cupping, triangle testing, the aim of this module is to make each participant an experienced cupper. In this module we look at how lab roasting differs highly to traditional roasting and of course all the necessary tools for the implementation of a comprehensive quality control system in a roasting company.
That briefly outlines the new 2017 modules of the School of coffee!

Training, a vital tool

The aim of creating levels is essential in coffee right now, as unfortunately there is no formal and State-recognised qualification in such a complicated line of work as ours. A product such as ours easily merits an entire year's training equal to the “mention complémentaire de sommellerie” wine diploma. We are a minimum of three people (producer, roaster, preparer) to work on one single coffee bean, often all separated by thousands of kilometres. Roasting is a unique example of the transformation which necessarily has an impact on the producer's green coffee. We all have businesses to run and time is too limited to simply down tools and spend months and months training as we have to work every day to promote our coffees. However, changes in consumption towards higher quality, more traceable products, combined with the dogged and tenacious work of all in the quality coffee profession over the last few years oblige us to be increasingly well trained to support this budding movement as it grows into a sustainable movement. Looking forward to seeing you in 2017!


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