Who doesn’t love a cup of coffee? If you don’t … well, maybe you just haven’t had a proper cup. Darling had the pleasure of hosting our very first coffee workshop in partnership with LA’s Blacktop Coffee prior to the holidays, and we’re excited to take you behind the scenes now to see what the brewin’ was all about.
From workshop attendee Jemma Davis:
Typically when I have friends over, it’s for cocktails or dinner, but after the Blacktop Coffee workshop last month, I’ve started having friends over for coffee instead of meeting somewhere to spend $5 a pop. I owe this newfound hosting idea to Anthony. He is the manager at Blacktop Coffee in the Arts District of Downtown LA, a 250 square foot shop with a refreshing take on brewing that even your average joe, like me, can appreciate.
This Darling workshop was intimate, only twelve women and three baristas, which was the perfect setting in which to learn about brewing. What a treat! Anthony started by telling us the history of coffee, the process of making it, and how really, it’s just moldy fruit. Did you know that coffee berries are bright red and sweet? Crazy! The history was definitely not as intimidating as I thought it was going to be. My personal “Ah-ha” moment came when he explained that coffee, if prepared properly, should be sweet on it’s own. You shouldn’t need to add sugar if it’s done right. Who knew?
We started going over the delicate, hand-pressed worksheet provided by Alissa Bell Press, which outlined the basic coffee drinks one would typically order at a coffee shop, and Anthony explained what they all meant. The Blacktop Coffee team even made samples of each one as they described them so that we could have a visual representation and understand the unique brewing process for each beverage.
After getting our bearings and learning the coffee lingo, it was time to get our hands dirty. First up, espresso. We gathered behind the counter and stepped up to the daunting espresso machine. I was the first to make an attempt and was feeling the groove, until I had to level the grounds with my hands. Ultimate fail. Luckily Nick, one of the baristas, is a professional and helped perfect my technique. Less than a minute later – voila! I had made my own espresso! We all took turns and tasted each other’s to see the difference a few seconds could make in the brewing process. It’s so scientific – I loved it!
Once we had conquered the espresso machine, it was time to try our hand at the pour-over method – this was going to be a challenge. With the empty Chemex practically staring us down on the counter, our group pitched in to go through the steps. One of us got the filter wet, another weighed the grounds, and we each took turns pouring water in, ever so evenly. Anthony pointed out where we needed to pour more water in and how to tell if it’s brewing properly (bubbles are key-I think!). There were at least three of us working at the same time. One person was watching the clock, another pouring, and another prepping to pour. It was teamwork at its finest and the perfect group to learn something new with. We were all in it together.
… the sometimes pretentious, invisible wall that you can find at elite coffee shops these days was broken.
Wrapping up the evening, the majority of us bought Chemexes for our homes and Sightglass Coffee grounds to get started with. We all walked away feeling empowered. Not only because we could now confidently host friends over for espresso and coffee, but mainly because the sometimes pretentious, invisible wall that you can find at elite coffee shops these days was broken. Anthony and the Blacktop Coffee team helped us realize that coffee is simple and sweet – nothing more.
Images via Daniel Curran