Master class to combine art and science of coffee making

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Pioneering coffee roaster Caz Higgs will present a masterclass at the Henty Machinery Field Days.

Coffee lovers will find out the secrets to cupping coffee in a master class with Platform9 roaster Caz Higgs at this year’s field days.

Caz will present her master class on Wednesday, September 21 at 10am and 2pm at the Farm Gate Market Produce demonstration kitchen.

In the 45 minute sessions, Caz will cover extraction, coffee varietals, flavours, synergies and how to cup coffee.

“Henty will be focused on cupping and encouraging people to distinguish flavour,’’ she said.

“Coffee is for sharing and enjoying – let’s not get too burdened by it all, coffee was invented to be drunk and enjoyed.

“Our master class will be aimed at people who are interested in coffee rather than coffee professionals – we want them to enjoy it and understand it a little bit more.’’

Caz began her career in technical theatre, working as the production manager for Albury-Wodonga’s Flying Fruit Fly Circus, before branching into hospitality.

She teamed up with Antonia Kotsiros to open the avante-gard Electra Café in 1995, followed by Zo’i Coffee Roasters, Albury’s first dedicated expresso bar with on-street service, Coffee Mama, and the Coffee Mama mobile van.

Three years ago, Caz decided to consolidate her roasting efforts into a wholesale business and founded Platform 9, a high quality, medium-volume roasting facility to service the Albury-Wodonga region.

The business focuses on coffee blends specifically for cafes.

“We try to be a carbon neutral business – all of our products are compostable and biodegradable,’’ she said.

“We like to understand the chain of custody back to the coffee farmers so we make sure we are buying ethically sound coffee.

“The old school pub used to be the social hub but culturally we have switched to coffee.

“Coffee has become the social glue – many cannot afford to go out for dinner but most can find $4 to have a coffee each day.

“People are in love with it as a product.’’

Caz said Australia led the world as coffee roasters, baristas and consumers.

“You can get better coffee in Albury-Wodonga than you can in Paris or New York,’’ she said.

“When it comes to respecting the product and skill set, Australia leads the way.

“Most of the good coffee bars in London and New York are run by Australians and we have become great technicians and creators.’’

Caz provides small business coaching for cafes and restaurants.

Different flavours come from different bean varietals and its up to the roaster to blend those flavours to create a desirable synergy in the cup.

Australian preferences are as broad in coffee as they are in wines.

Caz said differentiating a coffee business came down to cup preparation.

“There are lots of good coffees and machines around so the only place to make a distinction in the market place is to focus on highly skilled baristas with high-end cup preparation,’’ she said.

“It does take years to become a great coffee maker – it’s a combination of science and art.

“It can become subjective like wine but unlike wine it is harder to pour a good coffee to taste – there are many technical elements in the road to get to a perfect extraction.’’