Back to School: Cole’s ABC Experience

We recently caught up with Cole Werfelman, the winner of our 2015 Barista Showdown, to give us a recap of her experience cashing in on her Grand Prize. . . a weekend of Barista Training with The American Barista Coffee School in Portland, OR.

1.) Paint us a picture of what your first day was like. When you walked in what did you see? Was it classroom seating style for awhile and then you went to work on the machines or did you get thrust right in front of an espresso machine immediately?

When you walk into the school you are surrounded by espresso machines with a scent of coffee in the air. As you wait for your classmates to arrive you get the chance to meet the instructors Tom Pikaart, Chad Bledsoe, and Brian Ensminger. Once all had arrived we all took turns saying who we are, where we are from, what cafe we work at, and what we wanted to take from the class. After that class started. Tom Pikaart led the class right into everything having to do with pulling shots, steaming milk, latte art and much more. We started every day with a group discussion and then went right to hands-on training. The room was filled with all different types of espresso machines and grinders. Being able to work with so many types of machinery was really cool.

2.) Did you see more experienced baristas like yourself perfecting their craft or first-timers being introduced to the art?

Most of the class came with little experience and from all over the world. I came to the class with three years of experience and as a Portland local. To me it was fun seeing others learn the craft that I have been in love with since day one. I felt like Tom, Chad, and Brian all could see the different skill levels in the room and truly help people where they needed it. Being able to work with them one-on-one really helped me hone my skills a lot better.

3.) What surprised you the most about your time at the ABC?

That it only lasted 3 days! That was SO not enough time. I loved listening to Tom talk about coffee. He truly has a passion for what he does and you can just tell, it made the class go by way too fast. Another thing that surprised me was how intense it got when it came down to every thing. Pulling shots, steaming milk and pouring latte art I had to know with every one what I could do better to make the next one. I might have been going a little faster than the group. But I got my questions answered and really learned a lot!


4.) What’s YOUR favorite part of being a barista?

I love saying I’m a barista and knowing that means I’m always in the coffee world and I’m always going to be chasing knowledge on how I can better myself to make your cup of coffee in the morning to start your day with a smile–along with the industry filled with the same type of people. The experiences I will get to have while I go for my dreams will be amazing and I can’t wait to watch my life as a barista unfold through the years to come.

5.) What did you enjoy the most at the ABC?

Talking coffee with people who know coffee. Being able to talk shop with the instructors was really educational. I could have sat for Tom’s rants all day! He would start on something, go on to something else, switch it around and make them all connect, it blew my mind at times. I enjoyed the one-on-one hands on experience–they really worked with my skills to help me improve. It made me feel good that they saw me as a barista.

6.) Is this schooling a one-time thing or do they suggest attending every so often for upkeep on your craft?

I will never stop educating myself on what I can do to improve my barista skills or coffee knowledge. If I get the opportunity to attend the school again I would go. Events like the Caravan Barista Showdown are also educational experiences. I spend months in advance practicing, getting everything ready, testing theories and extra time on updating myself with reading about coffee. Every time I’m at the bar I put all the knowledge together to do my best work.

7.) For fellow baristas wanting to attend this school, what’s one piece of advice you’d like to pass along to them?

Do what I did: go in with 100,000 questions, ask all of them and still find a way to come up with more. My first day back on bar with all my questions answered the next round began. Now that I’ve found some answers, I have more questions than ever. That’s just it, I’m chasing the experience to learn all there is to know about coffee to put the smile on someone’s face. Pulling the shot, steaming the milk to pouring the latte art.

It’s easy knowing when I get to work, I’m in heaven. I get to make coffee for great people while working with some of the best people. It’s not only the customers. Other baristas, roasters, and other people in the specialty coffee industry are the greatest people in the world.  I am a barista and I’m proud of myself and how far I’ve seen myself come. Can’t wait to see what’s next in the coffee world.

Thanks Cole! We raise our shot glass to you!


The post Back to School: Cole’s ABC Experience appeared first on Caravan Coffee.


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