Bean Porn: La Marzocco Partners with ChefSteps to Create Free Online Course to Help Coffee Lovers Everywhere

By Jon Shadel
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE

Fine espresso is an art. And as third-wave specialty coffee gains traction with the general public, more coffee drinkers are interested in the technical details of the barista’s craft. Whether they intend to make espresso at home or not, amateur coffee aficionados and café hounds increasingly seek a holistic understanding of the espresso brewing process. But save the seldom cupping or the chatty barista, most consumers don’t have easy access to engaging resources to expand their coffee consciousness.

The La Marzocco ChefSteps online video series is an amazing ”and free ”opportunity for coffee nerds anywhere to learn espresso from some of the smartest guys in the industry: Charles Babinski and Scott Callender.
The La Marzocco ChefSteps online video series is an amazing ”and free ”opportunity for coffee nerds anywhere to learn espresso from some of the smartest guys in the industry: Charles Babinski and Scott Callender.

For this reason, La Marzocco, a leading manufacturer of espresso machines, partnered with ChefSteps to release a comprehensive espresso course online titled œEspresso: The Art of Extraction.  Better yet, the eight-part series is free to anyone who signs up. At first glance, the course doesn’t seem incredibly groundbreaking: online tutorials pair with education articles intended to entertain as well as educate. However, after completing the first few sessions, it becomes clear that there is nothing else quite like this on the Internet.

From brewing the perfect shot, to mastering latte art, the ChefSteps series from La Marzocco covers all the bases.
From brewing the perfect shot, to mastering latte art, the ChefSteps series from La Marzocco covers all the bases.

The course, featuring 12 high-definition videos, is essentially œbean porn  for third wave coffee geeks. It’s broken down into easily digestible episodes designed for binging. The whole thing takes just over an hour to complete and stars Scott Callender, director of La Marzocco Home, and Charles Babinski, co-owner of G&B Coffee and three-time U.S. Barista Championship runner-up.

Get geeky with espresso!
Get geeky with espresso!

Callender and Babinski are to coffee what Alton Brown is to food. Just like Brown’s Food Network classic Good Eats, Callender and Babinski explore the technical side of their craft, touching on everything from brewing processes to properly weighing coffee and latte art tricks. And if this sounds rather nerdy, it’s because the series is designed for coffee lovers who want to geek out on all things espresso.

 Scott Callender, left, and Charles Babinski teach the techniques for brewing great espresso.
Scott Callender, left, and Charles Babinski teach the techniques for brewing great espresso.

The series starts at square one: defining espresso. Callender narrates a brief video explaining how espresso, made of just two ingredients (hint: coffee and water), is deceptively simple. A punchy article follows the video, describing the anatomy of a shot. The article, illustrated with techy diagrams and sexy photography, explains that the shot is made of two layers: the crema and the liquid. œThe  crema  layer is made up of CO2  bubbles surrounded by water and oils,  the lesson reveals, describing coffee like a scientist conducting a tasty experiment. It’s exciting to learn more about the humble espresso shot so hastily consumed by many on their early morning commute.

The ChefSteps series from La Marzocco gets deep into espresso extraction.
The ChefSteps series from La Marzocco gets deep into espresso extraction.

Other lessons explore topics like how delicious espresso is the result of a great espresso recipe. Most casual coffee drinkers might not think about things like espresso theory, but the course explores crucial topics like brew ratio, time and temperature. œIf you want to have great espresso ”or salmon, for that matter,  the lesson insists, œyou’ll need to think about technique. 

Not only are you guaranteed to learn something, these videos are soooo pretty to watch.
Not only are you guaranteed to learn something, these videos are soooo pretty to watch.

After such a compelling eight-part course, even the least technically-aware coffee guzzler might think twice about the craft of fine coffee. The successful course stems from two companies who have a shared passion for education and quality products.

Behind the scenes of the filming of the ChefSteps series from La Marzocco.
Behind the scenes of the filming of the ChefSteps series from La Marzocco.

œChefSteps is a perfect partner for us,  explains Callender. œWe’re both Seattle-based companies with a passion for sharing knowledge. ChefSteps’ team has an amazing ability to take complex food subjects and make them look simple and mouthwateringly beautiful.  And along with ChefSteps, Callender has certainly accomplished the same thing for coffee with this series.

Chales Babinski and Scott Callender had a blast making this super educational espresso series.
Chales Babinski and Scott Callender had a blast making this super educational espresso series.

Grant Crilly, cofounder of ChefSteps, echoes Callender’s sentiments. œCollaborating with  La  Marzocco  to design a class dedicated to espresso was a natural fit,  Crilly says. œOur mutual passion for sharing culinary ”or, in  La  Marzocco’s case, coffee ”knowledge led to a great collaboration that really shines through in the final product. It’s the best resource for espresso available. 

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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Jon Shadel  is a Portland-based writer and lover of fine coffees. He writes for  Oregon Business  and  Oregon Home  magazines. He’s also the founder of  Rusty Bike Media, a storytelling agency helping startups, lifestyle brands and nonprofits engage their target audience. With years of experience as a barista, he loves coffee culture and is often found furiously typing in a cozy cafe.

 

 

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