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Coffee Class: Garden District lab gets serious about brewing

Brewing coffee is more than just a morning ritual at French Truck Coffee. Owner Geoffrey Meeker this month opened the first certified and accredited Specialty Coffee Association TrainingLab in Louisiana,located at1533 Melpomene St. in the Lower Garden District.

Formerly a photography studio, the 1,0-square-foot facility offers an array of classesfor individuals interested in a career in the specialty coffee industry. Coursework is taught by Michael Breaux and costs $295 and up, depending on the course, level and material.

The training lab, which cost more than $50,000 to set up, uses equipment from all over the world. Appliances include an Italian espresso machine and German grinders as well as American drip coffee and Japanese cold drip machines.

FrenchTruck Coffees lab is accredited to teach up to six students at a time. Breaux teaches skills like properly assessing the grade, quality and flavor profile of coffee. These can be used in developing roast profiles and setting premiums for sourcing coffee.

Breaux uses various senses – including smell – to ensure the coffee is brewed to its potential. The company buys beans from hand-selected farmers and roasts them in small batches daily to maximize freshness.

Meeker was inspired by a bag of coffee given to him in 2009 by his cousin from San Francisco. The coffee had been roasted for a couple of days before he made a cup. He said it was an unforgettable experience that led him to open his first roastery in 2012 in New Orleans.

While Starbucks relies on machine automation to make drinks, the lab’s type of training is for someone who is serious about a career in coffee, Meeker said.

Taking one of the classes we offer would be the equivalent of someone going to culinary school.It is another level past typical on-the-job training, he said.

FrenchTruckCoffee has three store locations on Magazine, Dryades and Chartres streets in New Orleans, as well as locations in Memphis and Baton Rouge. For more information on classes visit french truck

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