3/01/2013 12:00:00 PM

Coffee 101: Where to Learn About Java in SF

Bay Area coffee enthusiasts at every knowledge level have a number of ways to learn more about beans and brewing techniques. Unless there’s a special event happening, Ritual Coffee Roasters offers a free cupping at the Valencia Street location in San Francisco every Friday at 1 PM where the curious can learn more about the flavors and aromas of the popular brand’s beans. For the uninitiated, the session also provides a window into the language of description - which, like explaining the taste of wine, can be very specific and intimidating for a novice.

Similarly, Blue Bottle Coffee’s Oakland roastery has free cuppings twice a week, held every Tuesday and Sunday at 2 p.m. If you’ve got a group of at least 10 friends, you can also sign up for a private tour of the facility ($15 per person/$20 per person with pastries) and that includes an in-depth discussion and tasting. Additionally, the company periodically holds brewing classes and other educational one-off events, such as a recent single origin tasting at Bi-Rite’s non-profit community space, 18 Reasons.

Back in San Francisco, Four Barrel Coffee hosts twice-monthly “Brewing Better Coffee at Home” courses, limited to 10 people and priced at $25 (which includes beans to go and a discount on brewing gear). Expect a 90-minute overview of the varieties of modern brewing techniques and tricks to make a consistently perfect cup. The March classes are already sold out, but there’s still room in the sessions on April 8 and April 22.

Those looking to give their caffeine knowledge a serious kick (whether an amateur cook or food professional) can turn to Mill Valley’s Boot Coffee for a number of three-day intensive courses running this March, May, June and July. Classes include Roast Profiling and Cupping, Advanced Roasting and Single Origins and Creating Blends. It’s something of a boot camp all right, but it is actually named after the founder, Willem Boot.

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