Café Imports Debuts Pro Training & Education Center in Minneapolis

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Congratulations to the amazing team at Café Imports on the grand opening of the company’s new training space in Minneapolis, called the MPLS Coffee Mill! The company, which is known for providing top quality coffees to roasters of all sizes throughout the international specialty coffee community (as well as to such superstars as U.S. Barista Champ Pete Licata, and New Zealand Barista Champ Nick Clark who will use the Café Imports selections in their World Barista Championship performances next week), proudly threw open the doors to the MPLS Coffee Mill on May 3 for an opening party to introduce the space to the local coffee collective and get the word out about all the Mill has to offer.
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“The MPLS Coffee Mill is a place where coffee professionals can come to refine their knowledge and skills. It is an interactive, hands-on learning and coffee centered workspace,” Café Imports said in a release prior to the party. “This space is outfitted with some of the latest and greatest coffee equipment for training and education, and we will be holding classes throughout the year in the space including our own educational content and Q certifications.”

We at Barista Magazine were super excited about this—this region has never had such a stylish and sophisticated training and coffee education space before. This is a big dealio, folks.

Initially Café Imports will use the space for an intensive three-day class called, “Source, Craft, & Serve.” With the first session kicking off in June (go HERE for information about registering), the class will cover everything from grading green coffee, sample roasting, and cupping; the production roasting and learning all about profile roasting; to bar skills classes and heavy-duty barista training.

The “Source, Craft, & Serve” course will be repeated throughout the year, so stay tuned to Café Imports‘ site for the announcement of future class dates. The company has secured special pricing at a lovely local hotel for folks coming in from out of town to attend, as well.

There is so much going on at MPLS Mill, in fact, that I wanted to hear the story straight from the folks who put the whole thing together, one of whom is my old pal Joe Marrocco, a sales rep for Café Imports and an all-around awesome dude. Joe took some time out of his hectic schedule to answer my questions about the MPLS Coffee Mill so I could share it here with you. Special thanks also to Ari Fasanella for these great photos of the space.

Sarah: How long has the MPLS Coffee Mill been in the works? What was the original vision for it?

Joe: To be honest, this idea has been rolling around in Café Imports’ founding owner’s head for years. I cannot give a specific period to you. Andrew [Miller] has been a major contributor in coffee education through the SCAA for years now. Bringing this home to his company has been a work in progress for a long time.

Sarah: Besides being ground zero for the 3-day classes, “Source, Craft, & Serve,” what will the space be used for? 

Joe: Right now we are very open and still in the creative mindset. We have accommodated the Q Certification [course] in the space already. Tracy Allen [of Brewed Behavior, and also Barista Magazine's business columnist] was kind enough to show up and host this event. These are the kind of collaborations that we look forward to fostering and the kinds of events that we want to offer. I am still working hard at my desk selling green coffee, and traveling around to events to teach and participate. We as a staff will not have the time to put on trainings every week, or even every month. But by providing the space and the resources, we hope to offer the North Central part of the U.S. some fantastic opportunities to refine their skills.

We love throwing parties and hope to open up our doors for TNTs, tasting events, you name it. Do you have an idea in mind? Let me know!!  Speaking of which, we recently had our grand opening party and cupping. It was incredible! Baristas from all over the Twin Cities showed up and threw down. There was a lot of movement while the lattes were being poured… lots of hips shaking, and lips smiling. We saw over 100 people at the party. We were able to really get a glimpse of the excitement that is building within our city over having this educational space. We hope to keep that fire burning with more events and connection to our community.

Sarah: Can you tell us what kind of equipment you have in there?

Joe: We have partnered with some great companies to get some beautiful equipment into the space. For roasting we will be using the Probat L5, a Huky, and the Probat Four Barrel Sample Roaster. For our brewing, Brant Curtis has been extremely generous in getting us a brewer, the Gold Cup and a water tower. La Marzocco, with whom we hope to work together with on some events, has partnered with us in supplying a La Marzocco Linea, 2 group, and two Mazzer Kony E Series grinders. Nuova Simonelli 
Aurelia T3 II, you ask? Yes, we have one. We will be basically set up for competition practice. Our good friends at Espresso Parts helped us get all of our smallwares.
All of these companies are incredibly excited about what we are doing out here. They jumped on board in partnering with us in this endeavor. We have an amazing industry in which companies like these are so supportive of the barista community. I have seen it time and time again, at SCAA events, trade shows, barista competitions, and even local TNTs. These companies are always showing up with support and lifting the barista craft to new heights by supply the baristas with excellent tools and service. Amazing!
Sarah: Why is this a good time in Café Imports‘ history for the MPLS Coffee Mill to be established?
Joe: We are an incredibly busy company, and we operate with a very tight staff. We have to work hard to do what we do, and every person on our team carries a lot on their shoulders. We have now grown enough at this point to allow us to have the coverage needed for some of us to break away and host some of these events. I am the lucky guy who has been charged with organizing these, and even running some of them, but this is definitely a team effort.
Secondly, we have the space! We moved to our current office location about a year and a half ago. That as a big deal. We have since built out this training center and it is now fully operational.
Sarah: Anything else to add? 

Joe: Our first courses start in June. We are having a three-day event that is essentially an expanded seed-to-cup training.

Day 1: Source

Seed to export
Sample Roasting
Cupping
Day 2: Craft
Intro to Roasting
Profile Roasting
Free time with a guide in a roaster
Day 3: Serve
Brewing
Espresso
Milk
Source, Craft, Serve. This is what we all put our hands and hearts to every day. If you anyone is interested in hearing more about these classes, or attending events with us in the future, they should email us at info@cafeimports.com.

Thanks, Joe! And congratulations again to Café Imports on this outstanding accomplishment. The MPLS Coffee Mill is the kind of training and educational center the specialty coffee industry needs to continue growing and developing. Our hats are off to you guys!

 

 

About the Author

Sarah

Sarah Allen is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.