coffee class

Veneziano’s virtual vision

Veneziano Coffee Roasters on its foray into virtual training and what differentiates its new Home Barista Series.

While home coffee consumption and domestic coffee equipment sales have skyrocketed during the global pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, an area that is still developing within the home market is education and training.

One brand shaping the sector is Veneziano Coffee Roasters with its new Home Barista Series.

An increasing number of enquiries from home users inspired the online program which teaches coffee making techniques to domestic baristas, along with how to best utilise their coffee machine.

“People were asking, ‘how do I dial in my coffee? How do I get the most out of my Veneziano blend?’ We realised that there was an appetite for our customers to learn more,” says Erin Sampson, Veneziano Training Manager.

“These classes are for anyone interested in gaining new skills with their coffee equipment. It doesn’t matter if they have a lower price point coffee machine, an expensive one, or even if they don’t have a machine at all.”

Virtual coffee training is a whole new experience for the 2009 Australian Latte Art Champion. For the past eight years, Erin has hosted in-person training for Veneziano customers, but COVID-19 restrictions forced the company to rethink how it connects and interacts with its customers.

Erin Sampson taught her first virtual training course when Veneziano partnered with Breville in May 2021.

Erin got her first taste of virtual training when Veneziano partnered with domestic appliance supplier Breville in May 2021 to host its first online barista classes as part of a partnership promotion.

“It was quite nerve-racking. I was asking myself ‘how am I going to translate this information that I’ve been teaching face-to-face for so long?’” she says.

“The first class I couldn’t even see myself. I was talking to a camera which was strange because I didn’t have someone nodding or saying, ‘I understand what you’re saying’.”

After the first week of classes, Erin says she was overwhelmed with the positive feedback, and the large impact she realised she was making.

Daniel Finn, Veneziano Marketing and Partnerships Manager says the company’s venture into virtual training took its next step after filming a Breville class in the soundproof boardroom of Veneziano’s Melbourne headquarters.

It was there the brand realised this set-up would not be adequate for the long-term.

“We’ve had a purpose-built wholesale training studio for many years, however, we realised we needed a space dedicated for consumers,” says Daniel.

Built across eight weeks, Daniel says this Business-to-Consumer (B2C) space will double as a recording studio for the live online Home Barista Series, and once restrictions ease, will hold face-to-face training for up to 16 participants.

“From there, we thought, we’ve been training baristas in person for years and we’re well equipped with the space now, let’s launch a Home Barista Series and train a B2C audience,” says Daniel.

The classes will run every week with each session lasting roughly one hour dependent on content and demand. While costs will also vary, Daniel says the prices are kept at a low-cost point.

Each class features specific areas of the home coffee making process with users able to sign up and attend classes with a pay-as-you-go system.

“It will be suitable for attendees that are completely new to coffee and maybe have just bought a new coffee machine, or for people who just want to get better results. It will be catered to all levels,” says Daniel.

The program currently includes three classes — Essentials to Espresso and Milk, Basics to Latte Art, and Filter Brewing — with Veneziano expecting to add more advanced classes in the future.

Each Filter Brewing class will be dedicated to one brewing method, taught by Pete Licata, 2013 World Barista Champion and Research and Development Coffee Consultant for Nomad Coffee Group.

Class size will be kept small, no more than 30 people, with a qualified barista actively answering live questions as part of the interactive experience. When demand increases, Daniel says the frequency of the classes will increase, rather than the size, to maintain the high quality, intimate experience.

With existing educational programs often catered towards a particular brand, or provided with a new machine, Daniel says the program’s brand-neutral approach is what distinguishes the Home Barista Series.

“The classes are not going to be focused on a specific machine or model,” says Daniel. “The key thing is our attendees are going to be doing our classes in a home environment, so it’s pitched at whatever domestic machine, at whatever price point, with whatever coffee that person is using.”

Each class features specific areas of the home coffee making process.

Daniel describes the series as a journey that will make each attendee into a better home barista.

“The whole training team wants to raise the bar on home barista quality coffee. We know more people are working and consuming espresso from home and we want them to get a great result,” says Daniel. “That’s our goal, even if it’s only a small part, in raising the bar.”

He predicts a high volume of participants will be new to coffee making and may never have heard of Veneziano before, which he welcomes and sees as an exciting opportunity.

“While the specialty coffee industry and our wholesale customers know our training talent, our consumers might not. We’re thrilled that we’re going to be able to showcase our amazing training talent on a national scale, direct to consumers,” Daniel says.

Veneziano works with a range of manufacturers, including the likes of La Marzocco and Breville, which Daniel says gives the team experience and exposure to many brands and various machines, making Veneziano’s classes such a valuable resource.

“This is why we just called it the Home Barista Series,” he says.

“The series is about breaking down the barriers, making the process of creating a cup of coffee as simple and accessible everywhere.”

Erin says shifting to a virtual space has brought its challenges, but one of the overriding benefits is access to a wider demographic.

“We will now have attendees that may live remotely or previously haven’t been able to access one of our training studios, and I know we’ve got a lot of loyal customers that may live interstate,” she says.

“Moving virtually also means we can record everything, and it creates a resource. Some people don’t like that pressure of having to produce a great coffee when you’re in face-to-face classes.”

These recorded videos are predicted to play a larger role in coffee education moving forward.

“With our wholesale training school, we’re currently recording some videos and developing a library of online content, so instead of doing a live three-hour class, we’re going to break it down into a mix of smaller online videos and shorter live classes,” says Erin.

“So, when we finally get to see these baristas face to face, they’ll be ready to jump on the machine much quicker without having to teach them the basic skills that could easily be taught online.”

If the success of Veneziano’s classes with Breville are anything to go by, Daniel anticipates virtual classes will become a key part of Veneziano’s partnerships moving forward.

“The future for us in B2C is growth. I predict that when we reopen, we’re going to be in a hybrid training environment that may be 50 per cent face-to-face training and 50 per cent online training,” Daniel says.

“Our consumers have a taste for specialty coffee, they want to learn, they want to grow, and we’re going to be there to support them.”

Enjoy half price on your first Home Barista Series class with the code ‘Beanscene50’, or for more information, visit www.bit.ly/3mFF5nO.

This article appeared in the October 2021 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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