School of Coffee – Nurturing the Everyday Barista
Words by Hoe Ziqian

Celebrating International Coffee Day with School of Coffee

The good people at School of Coffee believe that anyone can learn how to make a good cup of coffee; all it takes is a bit of time and effort to learn and master the intricacies around the coffee making process. This is why the team welcomes students from all walks of life and strives to help even the weakest student get their fundamentals right.

This mission to make the art of coffee making accessible to the masses is no mean feat. It takes a group of highly passionate and persistent individuals to make this a reality. These individuals are first and foremost coffee fanatics, but they are also educators who wholeheartedly share their knowledge in coffee and take great pride in imparting the art of coffeemaking.

School of Coffee aspires to educate individuals, who are curious about coffee, through gourmet coffee appreciation workshops and coffee barista classes. (Image courtesy of School of Coffee)

The team at School of Coffee believe that baristas should be holistically trained on gourmet and local coffee to embrace the unique coffee culture in Singapore. Being able to showcase the local culture and share it with the world epitomises the vision of the company.

 

Collaboration with NTUC LearningHub

School of Coffee first got in touch with NTUC LearningHub with the original intention to collaborate on courses eligible for the National Silver Academy (NSA) grant. This was after learning that NTUC LearningHub were one of the community-based partners of the NSA.

After a few rounds of discussion, the team realised that there was more potential in this partnership, and this gradually developed into a long-standing relationship that had a stronger direction and more fruitful outcomes. The team of professionals at NTUC LearningHub were able to advise and guide the School of Coffee team towards developing SSG-funded WSQ courses that are also eligible for the use of SkillsFuture Credits (for Singaporeans aged 25 and above) and UTAP benefit (for NTUC Union members).

The assurance of the WSQ opened the doors for School of Coffee to reach out to the everyday coffee lovers. Over the years of training since its establishment, School of Coffee has always been focusing more on professional training for corporations and institutions, with significantly less emphasis on the general public. But with its mission as a training school, it hopes to educate not just people who work with coffee in their jobs, but the general consumers as well. The vision is to turn the man on the street into a more educated and smarter consumer of coffee and beverages. The team at School of Coffee believes that educating both baristas and consumers alike would be pivotal to uplifting the local food and beverage industry.

WSQ Courses taught by School of Coffee (Image from NTUC LearningHub)

During the initial launch of these SSG-funded courses in collaboration with NTUC LearningHub, School of Coffee was able to pick up on some early positive signs. The trainers were able to engage with and educate coffee enthusiasts on what they are consuming, aspiring baristas on their technical knowledge and fundamentals, and aspiring café owners on the various perspectives to have before embarking on their entrepreneurial journey. The ability to interact with people from all facets of life has certainly been a fruitful learning experience, not just for the students but for the educators themselves.

To date, the team have had more than 30 runs of classes in total over a span of two years, impacting close to 400 students. The team hopes to build on the momentum of this encouraging start and is continuously looking at ways to improve the training content or introduce new and interesting courses to supplement their current offering.

Head instructor Mr Tony Tang taking his students through the paces on drip coffee. (Image courtesy of School of Coffee)

In the recent year, School of Coffee also had the opportunity to extend its training expertise to large corporations as part of their collaboration with NTUC LearningHub. This is a bespoke training approach which allows the team to offer these large corporations a solution for their staff training, by contextualising its existing approved SSG-funded courses to the operational needs of these corporate customers.

The commitment from School of Coffee is that these corporations can be assured of the high level of consistency in the skills of their trained staff. Furthermore, these corporations can save on the internal manpower required to facilitate their own in-house training. Various institutions and voluntary organisations have also been in talks with School of Coffee to tailor its training courses to suit their respective purposes and student profiles.

 

Navigating the Skills Framework

The journey has not been without its struggles. One of the toughest elements to navigate is the development of the course itself. For courses to be approved by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), there must be an existing Skills Framework, which SSG has worked with industry experts to develop. The learning outcomes of the intended course must also fulfil the respective Knowledge and Abilities of the applicable Skills Framework.

With the stringent guidelines in place, it ensures that courses approved for SSG funding meet all the necessary industry relevance and requirements. What this meant for the School of Coffee team was that each and every team member had to roll up their sleeves and inspect every minor detail to achieve the necessary alignment with the Skills Framework. Besides the demands of the application process, the team did not have the luxury of working with a course developer who was well-versed in the subject matter – coffee. This resulted in a seemingly endless stream of edits and fine-tunes to the course materials throughout the entire process. But the team persevered and emerged wiser from that first episode.

With the knowledge and experience from the first course under its belt, the development process of the second course turned out to be much smoother. The team is now brimming with confidence and can foresee the development process of the future courses to only get easier, as the team members accumulate more experiences and improve their familiarity with the relevant Skills Framework.

 

What Course Participants Can Expect

Other than assurance on the quality of the training courses, participants can also expect to tap on the additional option for course fee defrayment. Besides the SkillsFuture Credits, School of Coffee’s WSQ courses are also eligible for UTAP funding, which offers up to $500 course fee support per year for NTUC Union members aged 40 and above. This will certainly be helpful for our fellow Singaporeans who have exhausted their SkillsFuture Credits balance.

Last but certainly not least, the course participants can look forward to fun-filled and engaging sessions with the trainers, complete with plenty of experiential learning and hands-on exercises!

 

For more information on the courses available, click on the links below:

WSQ Provide Specialty Coffee Service

WSQ Prepare and Serve Local Hot and Cold Beverage

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