My husband bought me a Barista Course recently (I’m sure there are more subtle ways to say my coffee-making isn’t up to scratch). A day with the Really Awesome Coffee company in Coventry not only gave me an almighty caffeine kick, but left me with plenty of useful observations to reflect on.
- Storytelling is powerful. This is nothing new of course - it’s part of my day job. But I was there in audience mode and was given lots of information about the history of coffee. The most memorable was definitely the legend that coffee was first discovered when a goat herder realised his goats were racing around and full of energy after eating some red berries (fruits from what we now know as the coffee plant). Who doesn’t love a frolicking goat? The perfect recipe for an engaging story - and no doubt, many a meme.
- Love it or hate it, a little bit of jargon has its place. Ordering a coffee can be an ordeal when you’re presented with a list of twenty options. David, my trainer, dismissed many as made up words but was quite clear about the ‘core menu’ and the meaning behind the labels. I now understand the difference between a macchiato and a cortado, and why a flat white only comes in one size – in other words, I have become a coffee snob!
- Multi-tasking often means doing things less well. I could perfect the ‘micro foam’ without a problem, as long as David didn’t try and hold a conversation with me at the same time. A lesson to take back to the office, I think.
- The right equipment makes a difference. Who knew a knock box could bring so much joy? No more fishing coffee holders (portafilters) out of the bin for me. Having the tools to make your job or your life easier makes sense - it can improve productivity and motivation. I have my eye on a calibrated tamper next…
- Quality counts. No amount of latte art will cover for a poor quality coffee or a badly made espresso. The same is true in communications. There is a lot we can do to support organisations in building a great brand, but you need a solid base to start from.
The biggest lesson for me, though, was the value of doing something completely different.
Despite my enthusiasm to do the course, as the day approached, there was that familiar feeling of ‘I’m far too busy to take a day off’. It’s rare we get to focus so completely on learning a new skill that has nothing to do with the day job. I left there feeling energised, full of ideas, and slightly too tempted to spend a fortune on a coffee machine. Maybe it was the caffeine, but I bounced into work the next day, enthusiasm fully restored.
When did you last take a break and try something completely different? I highly recommend it.