By Hussina Raja

It is a beautiful, sunny day at the e5 Roasthouse. On a day like this, the Roasthouse is filling up with happy customers ready to bake in the sun with their iced lattes. Following a breakfast of Gilchester currant buns and sweet jams, we start the session with learning about customer service and how a cafe like the Roasthouse is run.

Nervous at first, but with a little encouragement, each trainee takes an order, puts it through the till and processes it. In no time they’re all in a flow and serving customer after customer. It’s lovely to see how natural they are and how enthusiastic they become.

This week the trainees discover the rich tastes of e5’s Arabica coffee and our pastry chef Fifi’s delicious Date and Maple cakes.

First, we begin with how to make the perfect cup of coffee by familiarising ourselves with the espresso beans we’re using, these vary between e5’s suppliers ranging from Ethiopia, Honduras, Madagascar, Nicaragua, Peru and Brazil. E5 are dedicated to sourcing fair trade coffee beans from farmers they have taken the time to personally get to know.

The e5 method of making coffee involves weighing out each shot, this differs depending on the roast and beans used, followed by putting it through the coffee machine and pulling it for a set time to ensure the coffee isn’t over extracted, which gives it a burnt taste, or under extracted, which gives it a sour taste. As each trainee takes a turn making a shot, we discuss what we smell and if we think it is a good shot.

London, as well as in most parts of the world, a huge coffee culture exists, so it’s easy to get confused these days with the various types of coffee available. This, for the most part, comes down to the milk and how much is used. In the UK, we’ve gone that extra mile to give everyone a much wider choice: Espresso, Ristretto, Piccolo, Americano, Macchiato, Cortado, Cappucino, Latte, Flat-White, V60 Filter, Mocha and Iced-coffees. It’s a lot! But to keep it simple, we focus on making our most popular orders. Each coffee is made up of a double espresso shot; if the milk is mostly frothed it’s a cappuccino and if it’s silkier it’s going to be a latte or flat-white depending on the amount used, and an americano uses water instead of milk.

As the orders come through the ticket machine, the trainees keep practising making shots and learning how to stump the grounded coffee enough so it pulls at the right time. Today we’re working with an Ethiopian bean weighed at 19g and pulled at 31-33 seconds.

Pleased with their coffee creations the trainees deliver them to the customers wearing huge smiles.

The Roasthouse gets its name from the roastery housed in the cafe, and Marius, our very talent coffee roaster is the genius when it comes to explaining how coffee is cultivated, grown and roasted to give it a unique flavour. Initially, he explains the difference between Arabica and Robusto coffee, e5 favours the arabica bean due to the sweeter and softer taste, as opposed to the Robusto bean that is stronger and harsher in taste.

Marius has trays lined up of unroasted green coffee beans and explains the process he goes through to get the right roast and taste to make the best quality coffee. Here are a couple of videos Marius suggested explaining the washed and natural coffee processes.


After a brief education on coffee, we move into the kitchen to get baking for the rest of the session.

Fifi, our wonderful pastry chef was once a Just Bread trainee a few years ago, and now overlooks all the pastries made in the Roasthouse. Each course we run, baking pastries is always a popular request and the trainees today are excited to get stuck.

Fifi goes through the recipe for making her popular Vegan Maple and Date cakes. We gather the ingredients and begins by going through the recipe. Each trainee is given the chance to measure out parts of the dry and wet ingredients. The dates have been soaked in boiling water for 15 minutes, the apples grated and the maple syrup combined to form a sweet batter. The dry ingredients are mixed with the wet ingredients in a large bowl with minimal mixing, the cakes are easy to make as long as the essential ingredients are measured out correctly, the sweetness can always be adjusted to suit everyone’s tastes. The mixture is distributed in silocon moulds or a cupcake tray can be used, and finally transferred to the oven to be baked at 170C for 20-30 minutes.

The aroma of the cakes fills the space and we can’t wait to try them. To finish them off we prepare the Vegan caramel topping made up of maple syrup, almond butter, coconut oil, vanilla and salt. All the ingredients are combined and heated gently to create a rich glaze. Once the cakes are ready, they’re cooled, topped with the caramel and sprinkled with toasted almonds.

Voila! There you have it, tasty cakes to take home after a terrific day!