For the past few years I have been training myself on all aspects of coffee making, from production to roasting, from grinding to brewing. I have attended courses (London School of Coffee, Barista Camp EU, Artisan Coffee), spoken to roasters, observed baristas at work and practiced at home with my Sage Applieances espresso machine. There’s is always more to learn about coffee and I have discovered that only practice makes things perfect.
It wasn’t until a few months ago, when I attended a half day Barista Training course at Small Batch Coffee Company in Brighton, that I felt confident enough to use an espresso machine.
Small Batch Coffee was born in 2007 when friends Alan Tomlins and Brad Jacobsen left their jobs as chefs to start a wholesale micro roaster in Brighton, a seaside town about 50 miles south of London.
When they launched their company, Small Batch was just a small-scale business aimed at roasting small batches of high quality coffee in a 5kg roasting machine. After a couple of years they moved the roastery to its current address next to Hove’s train station and slowly expanded the company’s wholesale and retail business.
Today Small Batch Coffee is a highly successful coffee seller, which supplies high quality, high sourced coffee to cafes and restaurants all over the south of England. They sell coffee online for retail customers and have expanded their stores to five cafes and two coffee carts between Hove and Brighton.
I visited the coffee roastery and next-door coffee shop at Goldstone Villas in Hove in April. The space is tiny, but it’s full of charm, especially the outdoor deck which is an amazing spot to enjoy a coffee on a sunny day!
Small Batch Coffee Company flourished in Brighton and Hove, where the local community was happy to support a small, quality and independent producer (especially as Small Batch started out at the time of the economic crisis). On the other hand, Small Batch Coffee have always put a great attention to customer service: as they rely on local clients, they understand the importance of promoting interactions between staff and customers, but also create an environment where customers get to know each other to create a community spirit.
Every Small Batch Coffee shop has a distinctive character and style to fit with the building it’s housed in and with local neighbourhood. For example, the Jubilee Street shop in Brighton’s city centre has a modern fit-out and a long brew bar with attractive syphon machines on show.
There’s a completely different vibe at the Seven Dials shop in a residential and tranquil part of Brighton, with softer lights hanging from the ceiling and flower jars on the tables.
Seven Dials is where Small Batch Coffee opened their coffee lab in the Spring of 2013. It is equipped with freshly roasted speciality beans, La Marzocco espresso machines and a range of coffee equipment on which to start learning and honing your practical coffee making skills.
Small Batch Coffee Lab runs daily courses for retail customers (max 4 people per class) as well as ad-hoc barista training for their wholesale clients. I spent an afternoon at the Lab with Laura Holmes, a Small Batch coffee trainer, learning how to use a professional espresso machine.
During the barista training at Small Batch you won’t be taught how the coffee should taste or how you should serve it. The course is about making you excited about coffee and care about it, so that you can make the most out of the coffee beans.
Laura taught me a few valuable tricks on how to grind the coffee, fill the porta-filter or use the tamper. Small actions that seem irrelevant but actually make a huge different to the quality of the coffee. Since then I have been practicing Laura’s tips at home and my coffee have definitely improved in quality (though I am still working on my latte art skills)! ;)
To see all Small Batch Coffee locations click here. If you have any specific areas of interest or other coffee related skills you are interested in developing, email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss ad-hoc training.
Disclaimer: I was invited to attended the Barista Training class at Small Batch Coffee. All opinions are my own.