No, this is not a drill. illycaffè is expanding in Asia and has now opened the brand new University of Coffee! It educates and increases appreciation for coffee through four exciting workshops, starting from 15 November. So even if you’re not a coffee lover but are curious and want to learn more, this is the perfect opportunity!
For the general public, the four classes are: Aromas of Coffee, Slow Preparations, Latte Art and Coffee Expert (for consumers). But if you’re a professional looking to hone your skills further, don’t fret! There are classes for you that include: Espresso & Cappuccino Excellence and Coffee Expert (for professionals).
I had the honour of trying out the Aromas of Coffee workshop, and this is a little run-down of my experience!
As someone obsessed with fragrances and enjoys coffee (and its wondrous scent), this might have been the best class I’ve ever attended (sorry to all my past school teachers!). It was conducted just like classes in schools and universities are, with a lecture in the beginning and an activity afterwards to put your skills to the test!
Our instructor ran through illycaffè and the University of Coffee first. The whole lesson was carried out in such an interactive manner – asking questions, sharing more about our affinity with coffee, and so much more. After all the sharing and talking, we got to the highlight of the class: the smelling!
Our instructor walked us through the different aromas of coffee beans – from nutty and fruity to floral and chocolatey. There was even a point where I started questioning if these were fake scents! We also got to smell and observe the difference between raw and roasted coffee beans, which was a surreal experience, to say the least. If the context of coffee hadn’t been established, there was no way I would have believed that they were in fact, raw coffee beans. From appearance to scent, there was no similarity to coffee beans at all!
After playing around with the scents and guessing them onto a worksheet that gave me unhealthy flashbacks to primary and secondary schools, we tried our hand at learning about the most frightening type of coffee (to me): Espresso. I have immense respect for people who can enjoy and appreciate a cup of Espresso – that tiny amount in the adorable cup, and the bitter taste – it just screams intimidation.
We learned about the different types of Espresso: Classico and Intenso. Now, if you are like me and mostly rear away from Espressos, then you might want to stay far away! The Classico already sounds scary enough, while the Intenso exemplifies your worst nightmares.
Nonetheless, the Classico’s aftertaste carries accents of citrus, while the Intenso is your full-bodied cocoa. We also learned about the different Arabica coffee beans and explored two ends of the spectrum – Ethiopia and Brasile.
I was amazed by the way the lesson was executed, with extreme attention to detail. For example, in the previous section, where we were learning about aromas, the instructor had us pick specific numbers which had certain scents that she wanted us to guess and familiarise ourselves with. I’d discovered that later those same aromas were in the Espressos we were learning about! Cool!
Anyway, back to the tiny cups of fright, I mustered the courage to try the Espressos. Although the taste delivered a shock that took me a while to recover from, I have to say that all those quotes about overcoming your fears by facing them are accurate. I was able to go beyond the bitterness and even analyse the aftertaste! It was a magical experience, no exaggeration.
I loved the immersion of our senses when it came to trying each cup of Espresso. Observing the layer of crema with your sense of sight, smelling the aromatic coffee, listening to the collective slurp sounds around you as you sip, taking a taste, and feeling that liquid smoothly gliding over your tongue with your sense of touch. It never really occurred to me the way we engage all our senses as we eat or drink. It was an interesting observation.
All in all, the whole experience was unmatched – the friendly instructors and the electrifying atmosphere in the crack of the morning. As someone who appreciates a good cup of coffee but is nowhere close to being a coffee expert, I would approve of this class as dummy-friendly! As long as you bring an open mind and some curiosity, you are ready for this class, and the knowledgeable instructors will guide you through.
If you’re wondering which course is the one for you, allow me to share with you some descriptions of the various courses for you to take your pick!
For the Aromas of Coffee course, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, it’s the course where you seek greater appreciation for a jolly cup of coffee with your sense of smell. You will also learn to decipher the difference between multiple Arabica coffee beans and explore the world of Espressos!
In the Slow Preparations class, you will be exposed to the different preparation methods of coffee using some of that snazzy equipment! You are bound to emerge a pro as you learn the infinite ways to brew a cup of coffee.
The Latte Art class is one I’m sure most of us have set our eyes on! The treat for sore eyes, the sight we await, the first thing we feast upon when we get our cups of coffee; latte art is a skill to be acquired, and the University of Coffee helps you do so! You will learn to create the perfect milk foam and learn the techniques to handcrafted latte art.
The aforementioned three courses will last about an hour and a half to two hours. The fourth course, Coffee Expert, is a two-day course, where you essentially become, well, a coffee expert! From brewing coffee, tasting Espresso, and practical sessions on the first day, to learning the various coffee systems and coffee recipes on the second, there will never be a dull moment. You will finally learn enough to be the coffee pro you aspire to be!
Do these sound like your cup of coffee? (I tried.) Unfortunately, due to the nasty situation we’re in because of a certain virus, in-person classes are impossible as of right now. Hence, classes will be livestreamed, and the various kits will be sent to your residence before the class.
You can now sign up for these classes by emailing [email protected] and enquiring about the schedules and prices. The estimated price range to be expected is about $200 to $500, depending on the class you wish to attend, but exact costs will be made known to you upon enquiry.
I don’t know if it’s the caffeine from my coffee or the electricity from the class, but I am so excited for you guys to try these out yourselves and become coffee connoisseurs! Have a brew-tiful time!
Photos by Darren Chiong of the DANAMIC Team.