“Usually experimenting is for people who have already mastered the technique and want to go beyond it” Interview with Austrian Johannes Strickner, Coffee Enthusiast at ELDC


By: Alicia Molina 

Johannes Strickner is an Austrian Graphic Designer and Musician who took two of our Barista courses: Barista basics and Latte Art. Two years ago, he bought an espresso machine and he had been practicing on his own. He is very excited because here, at El Laboratorio de Café, he could learn about the whole process of making good coffee and he could ask a lot of questions, some that he had accumulated these years and some that came out from our sessions.

We talked to Johannes and he told us about his experience, his impressions about the courses and what he liked the most about these 6 days that he spent with us at El Laboratorio de Café.

ELDC: Why did you decide to take a coffee course at El Laboratorio de Café?

JS: I was travelling in Perú and I was curious about Colombia. On my way from Cali to Medellin, I went to Salento and I was really surprised about the beauty of this place. I have a small coffee machine in Austria and so I’ve been practicing all alone with the machine at home for about 2 years. This visit to Salento got me more curious about coffee. Suddenly I realized that I wanted to explore the roots of making coffee, something that is part of my everyday routine.

I had already seen the plant in Salento (where the coffee comes from), so then I went to Medellín and I had the idea that I could work on my abilities of making coffee. I was looking on the Internet what kind of places there were to learn about coffee and I found this place, the Laboratory.

I had a lot of questions because I had been working on an autodidactic way for the past two years, preparing a lot of cappuccinos. My coffe machine broke down a year ago, so I had to repair it and rethink the process of making coffee. I realized that sometimes the coffee came out good and sometimes it didn’t and I wanted to know the reasons. Here I could learn about the factors and the variables that you need to control to make the perfect espresso: the type of grinding, the water, the quantity of coffee, etc.


ELDC: Tell us about your impressions of the two Barista courses 

JS: I took the first level and now I’m taking the Latte Art, which is level 2. Level 1 is kind of the essentials, making any kind of coffee. It’s a good mixture of theory and practice. But I have to say that there is a lot more practice in this part of the Latte Art. I don’t know how many Cappuccinos I’ve prepared in the last two days! It’s not easy to do Latte art because you have to get the right cream. Now, I feel that I know what I have to do.

I’m glad that I decided to take Latte Art (Level 2) because I could ask many questions about level 1. Level 1 provides a lot of information and theory and if you have the chance to ask the questions a week later it works perfectly. Today we could talk about the roasting process again and how to get all the different flavors.

ELDC: Do you remember any anecdote or funny event that happened to you during your learning?

JS: Yes, actually yesterday morning we started the Latte Art course and I couln’t get anything right. There are so many movements that you have to do well…In the afternoon, we kept practicing and every time Andrés (my teacher) showed me all of the small required details. Finally, at the end of the day I could make the first figure. So I told Andrés that I was not thinking in the morning that I could actually do this in one day and then he said “Neither did I” and we laughed. It was very funny!


ELDC: What did you like the most from these days?

JS: I liked to learn about the roasting process because many of the coffee flavors come from this process. I believe that now I’m able to evaluate the different flavors of a coffee and its quality.

For sure, working on the machine is the most exciting part. It’s where you can really get to the point. But working on the machine without knowing the theory is kind of boring. That’s what I did the last couple of years. Now I’ve learned the different factors that I have to control and calibrate.

Having the chance to practice at El Laboratorio de Café was very good because when something went wrong I could ask why and have the answer right away.

“I had been trying to make a latte art heart for a year with no success, here in El Laboratorio de Café I learned in two days, and on the third day I was pouring rosettas and tulips”: Johannes Strickner.

ELDC: Why do you think that coffee is an important thing to learn about?

JS: I think that you should learn about everything. Many people don’t know how and espresso tastes like, they drink it everyday but the don’t know anything about it. Coffee is like wine if you have a good grape, you have a good start, but if you mess it with the wrong process you won’t get a good wine. I think there’s a point in your learning on your own where you get stuck and where you have to look for a professional help. I’m very happy that I decided to do these courses!

ELDC: Why would you recommend El Laboratorio de Café as a place to learn about coffee?

JS: I think that if you want to learn something about coffee, this is the best place because it’s very professional. People here know a lot about the culture and the whole coffee process. Like the name says: it’s a Laboratory, so it’s a lot about experiencing and experimenting. And usually experimenting is for people who have already mastered the technique and want to go beyond it.  


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