I had a throughly enjoyable afternoon on Saturday learning not only how to make great coffee, but being surrounded by stories.
The course was a present from my wife for Christmas and took place at the Home Barista Institute, just round the corner from the Anecdote office here in Melbourne.
The course was delivered by Rita Zhang who began by telling a fantastic ‘Who am I’ story. She told a series of shorter stories about how she fell in love with coffee, how she used a mentor to help her develop her business and how she started teaching courses on coffee. She brought to life each of the scenes in real detail (e.g. describing a sunny Saturday afternoon when she went and visited a ‘bright spot’ coffee shop that her mentor recommended), she used suspense and surprise in the stories (e.g. how she lifted up a takeaway coffee from the same shop and discovered a love heart drawn in the latte foam) and also linked them together to create a cohesive account of how she came to be there, teaching that course, on that day. These short stories gave a fantastic insight into Rita and where her passion for coffee came from.
Stories were also included in two other aspects of the course.
Each of us had to introduce ourselves by telling stories of good and bad coffee experiences we had had. After seven years in the UK I had no shortage of bad coffee stories! It was a nice way to be introduced to the other attendees and hear a bit about them and why they were there, in a very non-threatening and insightful way.
Stories were also used by Rita to bringing to life the history of coffee, right through from how coffee was discovered (the story of the ‘dancing goat’), through to how Pope Clement VIII played a key role in coffees acceptance into Europe in the 1600s.
Overall a fantastic day, not only because I was learning how to make great coffee (which now requires some serious practice on my part!), but also because I was reminded, yet again, about the power of stories.
About Kevin Bishop