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Western coffee culture hits Asia

Western coffee culture hits Asia

Aoraki tutor honoured with Taiwanese assignment

Rob Coulter knows his beans. The Aoraki Polytechnic hospitality tutor and barista trainer who has launched many young trainees on world careers in his 17 years with the institution always attracts a second glance from Timaru coffee shop staff when he orders a cappuccino or a latte – they know it had better be good.

Now, Mr Coulter will be attracting second glances from a much wider audience in what is major international recognition for both himself and Aoraki Polytechnic – he has been chosen to travel to Taiwan to train barista trainers at the Taiwan School of Hospitality and Tourism.

Leaving for capital Taipei this Friday (eds: November 27), Mr Coulter is preparing for 10 days of classes in front of two groups of 25 lecturers and professors delivering City & Guilds barista training modules for people who will ultimately be responsible for developing the Western coffee culture and providing international career pathways for the Taiwanese people.

City & Guilds qualifications provide an internationally recognised hospitality standard and the invitation followed a City & Guilds representative’s tour of all polytechnics throughout the country earlier this year. Aoraki was chosen because of its high standard of courses and delivery.

Mr Coulter, who is Aoraki’s programme co-ordinator for both the Certificate in Professional Restaurant, Wine and Bar Service and the Certificate in Advanced Food and Beverage Service, which both incorporate City & Guilds qualifications, sees the invitation as an honour for both himself and the polytechnic.

“Quite scary, but exciting at the same time,” he said.

“It’s very pleasing to see Taiwan moving to City & Guilds qualifications.

“Taiwan is coming of age in the Western sense. They are trying to develop more service skills towards Western tourists and City & Guilds study will not only benefit students there but also the many Taiwanese students who come to Aoraki for further training,” he said.

“The experience will build my confidence in dealing with the Asian culture.”

Mr Coulter is no stranger to pressure occasions.

He has both co-ordinated and been maitre d’ at two civic Royal luncheons for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip. He has also arranged countless functions for, and served people as varied as the Governor General, the Prime Minister and guests of the New Zealand Government.

Mr Coulter’s past students have won many medals and awards including the prestigious Toque d’Or, NZ Junior Food and Beverage Service Person of the Year, first, second and third best overall trainee in New Zealand, runner-up in Senior Waiter of the Year and South Island Junior Food and Beverage Service Person of the Year.

He sets a high standard, but does not regard himself hard to please with coffee.

“I am particular though, and I am happy to send it back if it is not up to standard.

“Most Timaru coffee shops know how I like it.”

It’s not going to be long before Taiwan knows too and his message to his Asian classes will be “good coffee is all about the quality of the crema.”

“If you don’t get that layer of foam on the top right your coffee is not going to be of top quality.”

The crema was an emulsion of coffee oils produced by the espresso machine injecting steam into the coffee “shots”.

“A good test of quality is if it sits on your top lip.”


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