Education at Intelligentsia Coffee


A leading roaster in specialty coffee, Intelligentsia has roasting locations and cafés in Chicago and Los Angeles, and a training lab in New York City.

The bulk of my coffee knowledge comes from Intelligentsia, where I have been a customer, student, and photographer.  The company’s commitment to coffee and relationships with customers, farmers, and staff set them apart from many of the others. Intelligentsia’s core values are:

1.    Provide the best cup of coffee.  The company employs passionate and knowledgeable people, sources the highest quality beans, and is assiduous in the way in which it roasts, extracts, and serves coffee.

2.    Commitment to training.  Training of Intelligentsia’s baristas is ongoing to ensure that coffee making techniques continue to be refined.

3.    Commitment to origin. Intelligentsia fosters sustainable coffee communities though direct relationships with growers, education and competitive compensation.

Barista Training Class at Intelligentsia Chicago Roasting Works (3/08)

My first coffee class.  This was a birthday gift to myself that keeps on giving.  Got to tour Intelligentsia’s roasting facility and then trained on one of the two commercial machines in their lab. It was a welcome introduction to espresso having just purchased a Silvia for myself.

The class was taught by my good buddy Matt Riddle, a former National Barista Champion.  The list of cool activities included sampling espresso during each quarter of extraction to demonstrate how with each step, the coffee tastes different. We also got many opportunities to practice what we learned (eg extraction and latte art) on the machines and ask questions.  The class, which was attended by enthusiasts and professional baristas, lasted three hours.

Barista Training Class at Intelligentsia LA Roasting Works (5/26/10)

Similar to the Chicago Roasting Works Class but held at LA Roasting Works. On this day, taught by the educators at the Silverlake and Venice locations. Interestingly, the methods had already evolved since my original training so this did not feel like a repeated class!

Home Brewing Class at Intelligentsia Pasadena  
Home Brewing Intelligentsia PasadenaIntelligentsia’s Pasadena Cafe hosted a free demonstration of our choice in brewing methods.  Selected brewing devices were the Café Solo, Chemex, and Siphon.  Manager Tyler Wells had us compare each, allowing us to differentiate the nuances of each method.

Home Brewing Class at Intelligentsia Venice (12/5/2010)

That same week, I attended another class because I wanted to learn siphon techniques from Intelligentsia Venice’s educator Charles Babinski, a top barista competitor. He demonstrated the V60, Chemex, Café Solo, and siphon and then let us practice on each device.  The hands-on portion was very useful since proper brewing is easier said than done.

Cupping and Barista Training Class Intelligentsia NYC (8/14/10)
Cupping at Intelligentsia NY Training LabIntelligentsia New York Educator Ramin Narimani hosted two separate classes on this day.  One for cupping and another for basic barista training.

The cupping class teaches you to examine Intelligentsia’s coffees with discriminating senses.  Essentially you learn to evaluate the coffees using the same methods as their buyers do.  The class is one hour and limited to eight people. The barista training portion is similar to the Chicago and LA ones.