Java 101: A training center for coffee baristas

There are schools for chefs and restaurant management, but how about formal training for coffee baristas?

Counter Culture Coffee, a roaster out of North Carolina, just opened a training center above the soon-to-open Ultimo Coffee shop at 22d and Catharine Streets in Southwest Center City.

On Saturday, Sept. 8 from noon to 4 p.m., there will be an open house in the space, 2149 Catharine St., second floor. At 1 p.m. there will be a public coffee cupping.

Training sessions are free for employees of Counter Culture's customers (including Ultimo, Shot Tower,, and Odd Fellows), but are open to all ($75 for half-day, $150 full day) - to such folks as home users and baristas at local shops who want to caffeinate their game.

Courses range from basic espresso to milk chemistry. Milk chemistry? "Everyone calls it 'latte art,'" says Phil Proteau, Counter Culture's regional representative, who has trained hundreds of baristas up and down the East Coast.

When he got into the business in 1994, "it was 'push that button, do this, stick it in there,' " he said. Nowadays, the bar has been raised.