The Ammo Room at The Barracks in St Hill St was the venue for more than 20 local secondary school students to learn the intricacies of being a barista.

Aromas of coffee and hot chocolate arose from four Italian coffee machines as some worked at the nozzles and taps and others concentrated on paperwork at tables.

Whanganui Collegiate, Whanganui Girls College and Whanganui High School were part of a session run by Palmerston North-based Industry Training Solutions (ITS).
Principals David and Poppy Clapperton were there with tutors Tracey Jarman and Darryn Taylor.

"We have a range of products we teach in high schools: coffee is one of them," says Poppy. "Others are leadership, communication, work-ready skills ...

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"Barista 101 is all about the history of coffee, how the beans grow and all those things, and then how to make the basics well, under supervision but not under pressure. This is an introductory course, but by the time they leave here they're not afraid of a machine."

As each student makes their latte, mocha, hot chocolate, flat white or whatever, in crockery or a takeaway cup, the finished effort is put in front of David for analysis, judgment and comment.

One superbly made hot chocolate, made only with milk – no water – was donated to this Midweek reporter.

"This is day two," says Poppy. "Yesterday at 9am these students arrived, some had never touched a machine. Now what they can do is really quite remarkable. Employers don't have time to teach them these basic skills."

The paperwork is NZQA Unit Standards – students get seven credits for the two days' work.

"There are four girls here who already work in cafes," says David. "They're here to fine tune their skills."

"They don't have to become baristas, but they know they can be," says Poppy.

"It's wonderful to be able to use this venue. We want to be able to do a lot of courses over here."

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