I've made no secret of my mission to support local businesses in Aberdeen lately. This Christmas I plan to buy at least one present, for each person on my list, from somewhere local. Someone else who is just as passionate about keeping our economy going, is Findlay Leask. He's written a blog post on the matter himself, and was among the first to sign up to the Buy North East campaign with his family business - Caber Coffee!
Caber Coffee is a well known name in the area. They've been supplying lots of our local cafes and restaurants with everything they need to make a great cup of joe for over 25 years. More recently, they've introduced the Caber Coffee School - the most Northerly barista training facility in the UK. Earlier this month Findlay invited me along to see what Coffee School is all about! I'm not the world's biggest coffee fan, but my sister definitely is...
Laura and I headed to Caber headquarters on Holburn Street one Monday morning, ready to be educated. Having never even tasted a latte in my life, I had no idea what to expect but was willing to give it a go and see if Findlay could convert me from green tea sipper to espresso enthusiast.
A warm and friendly welcome from Findlay made us feel right at home in the stylish, purpose built kitchen area they've created for the school. After a little chat about Aberdeen, blogging and how we can help support local - it was time to get down to business. We started by watching a short video, showing us how Caber brings their coffee to us - from farm to café! It makes sense, of course, to start the class with a taste of the product. A latte for Laura and my first ever mocha... turns out I like a good mocha! Who knew?
Next up was an espresso education! The base of all good coffees, it's important to get the espresso shot just right. A great product can be totally destroyed at that very last step. Too much water and you ruin the flavours. You can use the finest coffee beans the world has to offer, but if you can't pour it properly it'll end up tasting like dirty dishwater!
And then it was time to have a go ourselves! I learned to use a tamper, steam milk and watch out for something they call "blonding" as the liquid filled the cup. Being a coffee virgin, I was a little overwhelmed with the wealth of information Findlay had to offer. Laura, however, is something of a pro having worked in coffee shops and previously attending a coffee school further south. I think what she took from the day was more of a "fine tuning" of her already extensive knowledge!
Latte art was our next challenge! Those pretty patterns you see in your cup are the result of swaying the jug from side to side as the milk and crema combine. Mine was a complete disaster, while Laura's was a little more artistic. Findlay's masterpiece won by a mile... not that it was a competition of course!
I really enjoyed my experience at Caber Coffee School, despite being a total novice. I have a new found appreciation for a good brew and some serious respect for those that can make it well. I've found myself ordering a mocha since, although it wasn't quite up to scratch - I have high standards now I'm a Coffee School graduate! If you're a restaurant, bar or cafe owner in Scotland, I'd highly recommend sending your staff for a visit. Don't be the weak link that ruins the coffee in the farm to café chain! All are welcome, Caber client or not. Although you'd have to be pretty obstinate not to convert to Caber after meeting Findlay and hearing him speak so passionately about his business!
Coffee School is not just for those in the hospitality industry though - why not treat the coffee lover in your life to a Cheeky Macchiato this Christmas?