what a bargain!

photo: Eventbrite

My Father’s Day gift this year (I was asked what I wanted) was an on-line home espresso class, offered by Breville in conjunction with Onyx Coffee Lab. My session was yesterday.

I’ve taken classes before at Counter Culture and Vigilante, but it had been a while and this offer was too good to be true.

For the very reasonable price of $100, the package included a 90 minute online class plus:

  • 2 bags of Onyx’s Monarch espresso blend (value: $33)
  • a Breville barista kit, containing two Bodum dual-wall glasses, two Breville barista towels, an Airspace canister, and Breville-branded tamping mat, knock box, and milk steaming jug (value: $200); this is a very nice haul of high-quality gear

We also received an email after the session with discounts from both Breville and Onyx.

The class was conducted by Zoom. There were six or seven of us, and the two instructors were Andrea Allen and Lance Hedrick of Onyx. Andrea is the co-founder and co-owner of Onyx, along with her husband Jon, and the current reigning US Barista champion. Lance is a two-time World Latte Art champion and was the runner up at this year’s US Brewer’s Cup. This was the coffee equivalent of going for a group golf lesson and Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson show up to teach you.

The class was split, with the first portion devoted to espresso brewing technique, and the second to milk foaming and pouring. In each session, Lance gave a brief yet detailed lecture and demonstration that managed to capture the subject at a very technical, esoteric level without getting lost in the weeds. Andrea added comments, and helpful tips summarizing the points Lance was making in the chat window. Then Lance demonstrated the technique, and we all followed by making our own and showing them to the group. Matthew Davis of Breville was also on the call, with his camera off, to add tips and answer technical questions about Breville machines in the chat window.

The only drawback was that Onyx was having some technical issues with its WiFi during the session, so occasionally Andrea or Lance’s feed would freeze. They both handled it with aplomb. They were both very responsive and helpful in response to our questions, with Andrea in particular keeping a running dialogue in the chat as Lance was lecturing and demonstrating. There was a wide range of experience and skill in our group, and Andrea and Lance were patient, positive and helpful.

It was a lot of fun, and the experience didn’t suffer too much from not being together in person. I picked up some ideas to change the recipe I use to brew espresso and it was good to work further on my technique.

Tickets are available for one more session of the class, to be held July 18. Highly recommend snagging a spot to anyone interested, though keep in mind it’s targeted to owners of Breville machines.

The only downside was I drank two double espressos and two cappuccinos during the 90 minute class, which made me really jittery for a couple hours and then unable to get to sleep until 2am.

Totally worth it.

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