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Students full of beans on coffee course at Cornwall College

For a nation of tea-drinkers, the recent explosion of coffee chains across the UK has come as quite a surprise. The industry is now worth £1 billion in the UK alone, and its difficult to imagine a British high street without the ever -present Starbucks or Costa Coffee. But how can small businesses attempt to take on these coffee giants and succeed in such a market? Cornwall College thinks it has the answer.

The College is introducing a month-long Barista course aimed to turn students into professional coffee makers. The NVQ Level 2 course is in partnership with Origin, the fair trade coffee company, and involves 20 hours of training. The budding Baristas will have to prove they can grind coffee beans, make a perfect latte, cappuccino and filter coffee within 8 minutes and then make a tea, hot chocolate and a fresh fruit smoothie in 15 minutes.

Stuart Mathieson, Head of Hospitality at the College, admits he was sceptical when first approached by Origin about introducing the course. I was gobsmacked because I didnt understand how you could offer a plausible course out of making a cup of coffee, but when you see a skilled Barista at work, you realise that a lot more skill goes into it than you think.

Phil Gevaux, Origins Travelling Barista, said Restaurants regularly boast of their chef credentials, but when you ask what qualification their Barista has, who is making thousands of coffees a day with around 90% gross profit on each cup, its likely you will be met with a blank stare.

A lot of people spend four grand on a coffee machine and think that’s going to make them a good espresso. Its not, but a trained Barista will.

The College also hopes the course will bring a higher standard of coffee making to the region. Gastronomically, Cornwall is pretty good now with three Michelin star restaurants, Rick Stein and Jamie Oliver, and great coffee can only complement that, says Mr Mathieson. Coffee is, at meal times, the last experience you take with you. You can have a wonderful meal but you have a bad cup of coffee and it ruins it.

Michelle Gagan

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