What does a marketing exec do when he gets fired? If he’s Tom Vincent, he reinvents himself as the founder/director of an in-depth coffee school. Vincent’s “second calling” is teaching the science and business of coffee at his Texas Coffee School in Arlington, Texas, which is located between Dallas and Fort Worth.
According to writer Shon Gables, Vincent’s focus on third wave specialty coffee is almost obsessive. The course basics include such subjects as how to choose locally-roasted coffee beans, adjusting grinders, dosing, tamping, espresso extraction, frothing, latte art, cupping and even flavor pairing. But the school goes well beyond basic barista training, as other classes teach the details involved in opening and running a coffee shop. These include designing an efficient coffee shop space, selecting a roaster, buying equipment, developing a menu, interviewing and hiring staff, and more.
Vincent states, “We approach coffee the way a wine sommelier would approach wine.” The school is obviously filling a niche as students fly in from across the country to attend. According to the school’s website, November classes are filled, except for the 3-day barista training course. Tuition is as high as $1425. It’s all about getting that competitive edge, as Gables states, “coffee is not just a beverage – it brews profits”. The school is either contributing to or reflecting the area’s growing coffee demand. One of Vincent’s clients is the Original Pancake House in nearby Addison. With the Texas Coffee School’s consulting, the restaurant is testing its first coffee bar and lounge. New shops have opened and Houston recently hosted the specialty coffee industry’s trade show, a first for the state. All this points to Texas as the next big coffee market. Watch out Seattle!