How does one define a good coffee? That was one of the questions we mused over at the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) X Starbucks Sensory Experience Coffee Workshop, held at Starbucks’ Flagship Reserve Store’s private room in Jewel.
The workshop was conducted by veteran baristas who each had over 10 years of experience working at Starbucks, and they made the session interactive, insightful and meaningful over many cups of coffee.
What does the e2i X Starbucks Sensory Experience Coffee Workshop cover?
We started off with a good dose of our favourite beverage (I had my usual Dark Mocha decaf) while introducing ourselves, what coffee/beverage we liked, and when we would normally drink it.
Through this sharing, the group unearthed interesting tips and tricks that others used to create their perfect cup, and provided a peek into our secret lives of coffee/beverage drinking.
Trainers Jason and Andrea gave a introduction of the Robusta and Arabica coffee bean, and taught us how to taste and describe coffee.
We used our senses to smell and taste foods such as raisins, chocolate, nuts and even rose petals, and drink beverages such as full cream milk and orange, to understand how to describe the aspects of aroma, acidity, body and flavour.
Tasting Starbucks coffee from 3 different regions
The trainers introduced three different coffees — Colombia, Ethiopia and Komodo Dragon, elaborating on their unique aspects.
We smelt, drank, and slurped the coffee multiple times to assess the various sensory experiences of the first taste, followed by attempting to sense how the coffee experience evolved with multiple subsequent layers of coffee on our tongue and palate.
The trainers also invited us to experiment with smelling the coffee before and after smelling the foods (rose petals, chocolate etc) and beverages (orange, milk etc) provided.
Food pairing was next! We each had a box of muffin, waffle and cookie, all popular items at Starbucks.
The Colombia coffee had a ‘wokhey’ or ‘chaoda’/burnt note, and paired well with Starbucks’ blueberry muffin which was sweet.
The Ethiopia coffee was my favourite. It reminded me of the warmth of a loved one.
The Komodo Dragon tasted a bit more earthy, and went well with the cookie and waffle.
As we progressed through the coffee and food pairing, a bag of each coffee was passed around to let us smell the beans via a one way valve.
The trainers explained how to use a French Press to brew coffee, which should take around 4 minutes. The coffee should then be consumed in 20 minutes for peak freshness, instead of letting the coffee beans sit too long in the water.
At the end of the session, we were already high on caffeine, and the group became animated while chatting about all things coffee.
Wanna pick up Barista 4.0 skills?
The sensory workshop was an sense-opening experience because I learnt how to describe coffee other than just the aroma and taste. The skills taught are just a small part of what a Barista 4.0 (a future-ready barista) is expected to know.
The workshop provided a sneak peek into how e2i catalyses skills training with partners such as Starbucks to train future baristas 4.0 who know their specialty in-depth and share insights with customers to better appreciate coffee.
Companies looking to train their staff, and workers looking for skills training, can check out www.e2i.com.sg.
Coffee lovers who would like to enjoy a bonding session can consider this sensory workshop as a corporate or private event. I understand that the starting rate is $30 per pax for 7 to 12 pax maximum at Jewel. Starbucks can also arrange this workshop at your company premises. Additional goodie bag starts from $10 onwards.
Special thanks to e2i and Starbucks for the engaging sensory coffee workshop!