Moira woman Irene Sproule is causing a stir in coffee circles after becoming the oldest person in Europe to complete an industry recognised barista skills foundation course.
Irene, who prefers not to disclose her age, but continues to work well beyond retirement age, completed her one-day training course at Bailies Coffee Roasters in Belfast last month.
Her status as the oldest person in Europe to complete an industry recognised barista skills foundation course has been confirmed by the certification body, Speciality Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE).
Irene was enrolled on the course as a surprise alternative birthday gift from her daughter, Caroline.
Her day’s training involved participating with other coffee enthusiasts of all ages and abilities at Bailies Coffee Roasters. She had to sit a written exam, in which she scored full marks, as well as a series of practical tests from grinder adjustments to pulling shots and making the perfect cappuccino.
Irene, who is the General Secretary for the Federation of Women’s Institutes in Northern Ireland, commented: “I never used to like coffee and now I drink it all day. My favourite would be a cappuccino. My family bought me a bean to cup machine last year and after a few tutorials on the iPad I was making espressos and steaming milk. I’ve always been up for a challenge and the coffee training class seemed like the natural progression.
“It was quite daunting at first but Julia, the SCAE trainer at Bailies, and the other participants made me feel very welcome. I even met a man from Texas who signed up for the class as part of his visit to Belfast. It was an intense day of learning but very enjoyable too. You need to push outside your comfort zone – even at my age.”
Caroline said she wanted to get her mum something memorable for her milestone birthday and knew it had to be different.
“After a few Google searches I came across the SCAE training at Bailies Coffee Roasters in Belfast who roast the coffee for our favourite local coffee shop, The Fat Gherkin in Moira,” she explained.
“My mum has always been an inspiration to us and is so adventurous I knew she would be up for the challenge. When I gave it to her I told her it would give her options for future career choices!”
Congratulating Irene on her success and presenting her SCAE barista skills certificate, Julia McKenna from Bailies Coffee Roasters said: “Irene was a pleasure to train and we look forward to watching her progress.”
Bailies Coffee Roasters are the only SCAE accredited training centre in Northern Ireland and are renowned for their high standards of coffee from sourcing, roasting, education and training.
The local company supplies coffee to independent coffee shops and wholesale accounts across Europe.
For more information about Bailies’ barista and brew classes log on to bailiescoffee.com