Baristas who have been between coffee jobs for long periods of time; how did you keep your skills sharp?

I've been probably a year or so between coffee jobs since moving for school.  While I've invested in a good home grinder and french press, an espresso machine is simply too expensive to be considered.  

For those of you who've ever found yourself out of the coffee industry for an extended period, did you have any means of practicing your skills?  Or is it simply inevitable that you'll get rusty and have to start over when you get another coffee job?

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Hi, Michael!  I wouldn't say that you'll have to "start over" when you find another job; for many people, the skills come back pretty easily once they're back on the bar.  I'd strongly encourage you to go to throwdowns in your area and participate.  Even if you don't think you'll win, it's great practice and you get to hang out with fun coffee people.  I'd also recommend that you keep up with industry news, so that if there are big trends in the espresso world, you won't be totally out of the loop.  Most of all, don't let yourself get discouraged!

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