The three best coffee academies in Singapore

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Goh Siau Rui seeks out a trio of great local cafés that double as coffee ‘institutions’ providing coffee-related courses

First published on 1 Jun 2011. Updated on 6 Jul 2012.

1. Highlander Coffee

Pioneers of the coffee-academy concept here, brothers Phil and Cedric Ho initially started Highlander Coffee in 2003 to supply gourmet coffee beans. After some less-than-stellar feedback on their coffee, however, they headed to Sydney to learn more about the art of coffee making, came back experts, and began conducting workshops for coffee enthusiasts and barista wannabes. Class sizes are small, allowing a maximum of only four people at some classes, and three types are offered. There’s a cupping, or tasting session (two hours, $68) that teaches you how to recognise coffee characteristics; a gourmet coffee-appreciation seminar (two hours, $38) that demystifies the preparation of speciality coffee in the comfort of your own home or office; and an intensive, hands-on barista-training workshop (three hours, $198) that has produced café owners and barista-competition winners. Don’t want to leave your café? They’ll bring the workshop to you − there’s even an onsite training option. 49 Kampong Bahru Rd (6226 1686, www.highlandercoffee.com). Mon-Sat 9am-6pm.

2. CuppaChoice Barista Academy (NOW CLOSED)

The Barista Academy is the newest addition to this coffee company that has been around since 1984. Started in 2005, the four workshops cater mostly to aspiring baristas. Those obsessed with latte art will be pleased to know that there’s a workshop dedicated solely to that pursuit (two and a half hours, $58): an intensive course in hands-on repetition and technique refinement, you’re sure to be making prettier patterns in the foam afterwards. The barista workshops are split into two levels: 3.0.1 (four hours, $98) covers the basics in a step-by-step fashion, including how to extract the perfect espresso and how to froth milk correctly; 3.0.2 (four hours, $78) then bumps you up to ‘pro’ status, delving deeper into extracting espresso and also introducing you to free-pour latte art. For the layman who wants to become a coffee connoisseur, there’s the coffee-appreciation workshop (two and a half hours) that covers the history of coffee beans, the brewing procedure, and happily includes a practical component − tasting some coffee. Corporate workshops are also available (6227 8892, www.cuppachoice.com). Mon-Sat 9.30am-5.30pm.

3. Être Bon Gallery & Academy

An offshoot of reputable gourmet coffee roaster Boncafé International, the gallery-cum-academy that opened in 2011 is the newest place to brand itself an educational facility when it comes to all things coffee. Besides half-day professional barista workshops (basic and advanced, $175 and $195 respectively), a unique feature is their two-hour coffee journey tour ($35) that begins in the garden, taking you ‘from crop to cup’ and ending with a personally prepared beverage. Être Bon also offers an intimate (four people maximum) coffee-roasting workshop (four hours, $180) that equips you with the basic knowledge and skills to roast excellent coffee at home; you can even buy a home coffee roaster and other accessories at discount prices during the course. 208 Pandan Loop (6776 2216, www.etrebon.com). Mon-Fri 8am-5.30pm.

By Goh Siau Rui
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