Raising the bar on coffee education


By Kyle Simmons

We first started offering classes at Noble Coyote Coffee in December of 2016. The first class centered around brewing on a Chemex with a little discussion about grind size and how that affects the outcome of your coffee. I think 6 people attended, and 4 of those were family or friends of the staff here. It was a humble start, but that was the whole point: get started.

And now here we are more than a year and-a-half later. We hold cuppings on every first Saturday of the month and brew classes every third Saturday (with few exceptions). Our cuppings average more than 20 people, sometimes reaching over 30. At the most recent brew class about the AeroPress, we had about 15 people in attendance. This is just to say that attendance has been good – in some cases too good – and we feel confident that coffee education is something people have a real interest in. Heck, D Magazine even made up an award for us.

We are immensely satisfied with the success of our education program so far. With that in mind, we continue to try new things that we hope will make the experience even better for our student customers.

1. Classes Now Cost $10 (Beginning July 21)

Up to now, we've been offering our public cuppings and brew classes for free. I am a big believer that education should be accessible to everyone. And having put these classes together over the past year and a half, I'm also a believer in having the resources to grow. The revenue from our classes will help us develop more and better classes, plain and simple. It will allow us to purchase materials and equipment. It will also help offset staffing costs. My hope is that our student customers will see this as an investment in a program that really does deliver something of value that, frankly, will cost you a lot more somewhere else.

2. Interactive Brew Classes

The goal of our brew classes has been to show students how to brew better coffee. This has always involved demonstrations whereby I brew some coffee and explain what I'm doing, and the students watch me. This falls short of the goal to me. If you wanted to watch someone brew a pourover, you could buy one at the bar, and you'd get a full cup of coffee for your trouble! You came to learn how, so I want you to get some hands-on experience. From here on, the major objectives of our brew classes will be experience driven. This means at the least you will get to do some sensory analysis (smelling and tasting), and my goal whenever possible is for students to do the brewing.

3. Class Sizes Capped

Part of the value of our classes is getting to interact with everyone else in the room. We want you to ask questions, to compare notes with your classmates, and to feel like you can be heard. With 30 people in the room and 1 instructor, people tend to clam up. Plus, it just gets hot and crowded and that's not fun. By capping our classes we can ensure that students are provided a learning environment conducive to thoughtful discussion. It will also help with our second point of making the classes more interactive. We realize that this may mean classes fill up and some people are unable to join on a particular date. Trust me, if this happens enough, we will add more class dates. Until that time, we advise everyone to register for classes early.

4. More Better Stuff

In addition to our regularly scheduled cuppings and brew classes, we have begun throwing in some other odd events here and there. In June we hosted a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony that drew a big crowd and was so fun to put on. We also recently hosted a palate training event by the Dallas Coffee Gxls, a woman-run organization here in Dallas with a mission of empowering femme-identifying folx in the local coffee community. These events, run by individuals adjacent to Noble Coyote, were very rewarding for us as a company because they brought in fresh perspectives and people. Also, after being in front of the class every other week, it's nice to actually participate in something as a student sometimes! We have also begun developing a secondary line of classes that, as of now, don't have regularly planned dates. We call these master classes because they are designed to be deep dives into a particular subject. For example, our first master class covered water chemistry as it pertains to brewing coffee, and students finished the class by formulating their own brew water. In July, we will have a master class that deconstructs how we taste with the goal of preparing students to practice tasting as a skill. Master classes are generally more expensive than our regularly scheduled programming, but they allow students to take a real big bite of the subject matter, and they will walk away knowing how to do something.

I have enjoyed immensely seeing this program develop to where it is today. It has been a pleasure to see some of you come to multiple cuppings and classes. And it's always mind blowing to me how many newcomers attend. Just when I think I've become too big of a coffee nerd, there's a whole room full of people wanting to learn how to taste better or which brew method is going to make their morning cup have a fuller body or whether pourovers really do taste better (they do when you make them with love).  It's inspiring to be in such good company. I really look forward to the future of Noble Coyote Coffee Education.