Acquiring Barista Knowledge in The Lab

Royal Coffee New York’s The Lab adds new Barista Fundamentals class to its roster of coffee-education opportunities.


Photos courtesy of Royal Coffee New York

As specialty coffee continues to grow and become a more integral part of mainstream food and popular culture, coffee pros and enthusiasts alike are seeking to learn more about the ins and outs of the product they love.

As demand for quality coffee grows, so does the demand for educational opportunities to learn more about how coffee is made.

Providing these educational opportunities is the main objective of The Lab, the South Plainfield, N.J.-based coffee-training center established in 2015 by Royal Coffee New York. While Royal may be better known as a green-coffee importer, the company launched The Lab to broaden its offerings. “Our first mission is to create an educational program that complements and highlights the hard work done at origin to produce specialty green coffee and tea,” says Ana Mallozzi, education director at The Lab. “Secondly, we view The Lab as a community education space where both professionals and enthusiasts know there will always be a variety of educational offerings and events at affordable prices.”

Q-Grader classes aimed at coffee experts and introductory courses geared toward novices are among the educational offerings at The Lab.

The Lab offers a range of courses that include introductions to roasting and coffee tasting, tea quality and preparation, and Q-Grader preparation and coursework. Last month, The Lab unveiled a new Barista Fundamentals class, which over two days covers topics such as coffee history and processing; espresso; milk science and latte art; extraction science; and café drinks and workflow. “The Barista Fundamentals class was designed to be an inclusive and approachable experience for baristas looking to solidify the foundational knowledge of their craft, and those interested in learning the craft,” Ana says.

The Barista Fundamentals course—which goes over basics like milk steaming and bar flow—is a new addition to Royal’s list of educational opportunities.

The inaugural Barista Fundamentals class was attended by members of Norwich, N.Y.’s FoJo Beans and Waterville Standard Bakery in Waterville, N.Y., one of FoJo Beans’ wholesale clients. While the FoJo staff was well-versed in the roasting side of coffee education, learning behind-the-bar barista skills was a new experience that may guide them as they grow their business. “Before taking the barista class, we had no idea how to talk about espresso or espresso-based drinks,” says Dan Joseph, CEO of FoJo Beans. “Now we can have intelligent conversations about where and how we want to develop the brewing side of our roasting business.”

For Waterville Standard Bakery, the course presented the opportunity to refine and improve their coffee service. “As a small-business owner and espresso-bar operator, I found the barista training excellent,” says the bakery’s owner, Jack Cook. “In addition to hands-on practice and instruction on the art of high-quality espresso drinks, there was also plenty to be gleaned about the science of espresso.”

Early attendees to The Lab’s Barista Fundamentals course have included wholesale roasting operations that want to offer their clients more information and training.

In keeping with The Lab’s mission of offering affordable coffee-education programs, the Barista Fundamentals course is priced at $300. “We wanted to have an alternative to some of the more expensive barista-training programs out there,” Ana says. “Quality and affordable education has always been the vision of The Lab, and it’s also something I feel very passionate about. Having spent many years as a barista and barista trainer,  I know students will receive an excellent foundation in barista skills and feel confident in themselves when working behind a coffee bar.”

The next Barista Fundamentals class will take place Feb 23-24, and the class will be offered at other dates throughout 2018—visit The Lab’s calendar for a full range of available courses.

About Chris Ryan 263 Articles
Chris Ryan (he/him) is Barista Magazine's online copy editor and a freelance writer and editor with a background in the specialty coffee industry. He has been content director of Sustainable Harvest and the editor of Fresh Cup Magazine.