The tantilising scent of freshly ground coffee greeted 21 students at The Huddle on Wednesday, as it opened its doors for the first time this year.

There were smiles ear-to-ear of each participant as they mastered the art of creating café quality lattes, cappuccinos, and long blacks in the first session of The Huddle’s School holiday program. 

Self-confessed coffee enthusiast Sheena Pioquinto took part in the course, combining her love of coffee with the opportunity to gain workplace skills. 

“I thought if I could put this one on my resume then I might stand out a bit more because I now have the experience and plus, I am a really big coffee drinker so that attracted me to the course as well,” Pioquinto said. 

“I really liked how hands on and interactive the course was; there was constant feedback on what I was doing well and letting me know where I could improve.

“It was a bit strange being around people after 2020, but seeing everyone become more comfortable and confident during the course was really nice. I got to meet new people and make new friends throughout the day.”

A quintessential part of Melbourne culture, the barista course brings young people together to develop their skills and capacity across education, careers, and social inclusion.

The Huddle’s School Holiday program is designed to provide new experiences, build social connections, and push youths out of their comfort zone.

“It has been great to see the students really come out of their shell and become confident in their own abilities,” North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos' AFLW Captain Emma Kearney said.

“It’s amazing to see so many young people get involved with the program. The students are so enthusiastic, and it is really rewarding to help them learn new skills which is important for development, while also building new relationships.”

The barista course was the first day of the two-week school holiday program The Huddle runs, with activities designed to help young people in our community to learn, grow and belong.

For many participants, it was their first time making a coffee, while other participants attended to grow their workplace skills and experience. 

“The Huddle’s School Holiday program gives us the opportunity to bring together young members of our community,” Ruth Game, The Huddle’s Education Coordinator, said.

“The barista course was our first program of 2021 and to see so many happy and familiar faces bounce back after the year we have had was very rewarding for all involved and a testament to the strength of our community.

“The program provides young people the opportunity to take part in new and innovative activities aimed at the improvement and development of leadership skills, teamwork, education, careers and social inclusion.”