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Budding Barista

By Jason Richards

Ever since moving to the North Yorkshire Dales my wife, Victoria, and I have joked about opening a cyclists’ cafe. 

Our house is located on one of the many scenic, although very hilly, cycle byways that traverse the surrounding countryside and every summer cyclists of all walks of life and abilities pass by the house on the way to the village and beyond into the National Park.

The dream of opening the cafe is fuelled by my passion for coffee, Victoria’s passion for cake and the possibility of attaching a humble bike shop crammed with carbon fibre exotica and goodies to tempt the passing cyclists in.

Over many years I have gradually worked my way through numerous coffee-making contraptions and machines in pursuit of the perfect cup. My latest machine finally broke down for the last time at the start of the year and after a few days without my morning coffee I realised it was time to go back to the drawing board.

You wouldn’t think that being in a wheelchair would affect your choice of coffee machine, but it did. The shelves above our worktop are slightly lower than conventional cabinets to allow me to reach them more easily. However, this means there is also less height to house a coffee-brewing appliance. In fact, this proved a real problem as there just wasn’t quite enough space for the majority of espresso machines. However, I eventually found a fabulous Dalla Corte Mini that was incredibly compact, but with all the features I was looking for.

Despite the twins being over a year old at this point they were still both waking numerous times through the night. So my caffeine fix was needed more than ever to help give me a kick start in the morning.

I guess during the credit crunch is a good time to buy a coffee machine as there are some great deals to be had. I managed to get a few goodies thrown in with the machine, the best of which was a barista training course for Victoria and I. It was one of the first times we’d managed to get some time off from the twins together. We loaded them, the double pushchair and everything they might need for the day into the S-MAX and headed straight for Grandma’s. Once we’d dropped them off were on our way to our half-day barista training session.

This is one of the few times that disabled access, or rather the lack of it, was an advantage. Since the training room at Coopers Coffee is on the first floor they arranged for us to have special one-to-one training in a room set up for the day. Our training began with a brief history of coffee and an overview of pouring the best espresso. Very soon it was hands on: grinding beans, tamping (pressing the coffee into the basket of the portafilter), pouring single and double espresso shots, frothing milk and of course tasting. By the end of the day we were armed with all the knowledge and skills of a trained barista, including a handsome certificate and some coffee beans to take home and put to the test.

Our short time away from the twins had been great, but all too soon we were back at Grandma’s and once they had been fed and bathed they were loaded back into the S-MAX and we headed home. We were surprised how quickly their eyes closed and they drifted off into their world of dreams, especially with the strong aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans wafting around the cabin of the S-MAX.

Whilst we are not quite at the stage of opening the cyclists’ cafe we are enjoying our extremely early mornings a lot more now that they start with the perfect cup of coffee. In fact even our little boy loves his cup of warm frothy milk each day sat on Daddy’s knee.