You’ve probably heard the word Barista before. As the popularity of coffee rises, so does the term Barista. What is a Barista? Surely, it’s more than just a person who makes you your coffee. It sounds much fancier than that. Don’t worry: I will explain to you what a Barista is and how you can be one, too.
Think of a sushi chef. When you see the chef preparing the food right in front of you, you’re experiencing something that does not compare to simply eating the food. You see this person making precise movements that look more like a sophisticated ritual: it can’t be simply called “cooking”. This is what a Barista does. He or she does not just simply make coffee; he lives in it and leaves you with a new sense of appreciation for coffee.
To be a Barista is to live in a world of coffee. A seasoned Barista knows where his coffee is coming from— where the beans were grown, how they were grown, and what kind of flavor they’re going to produce in the end. The Barista has developed a sixth sense for coffee, and his brain is fueled by it. The defining and most important qualities of a good Barista are as follows.
Not all coffee is created equal. The Arabica coffee bean has a distinct aroma that will make your mouth water. This is the most used type of coffee bean for Baristas since they have a softer, sweet taste. By contrast, the Robusta bean has a stronger and much bitter taste, and it’s typically used for instant coffee. These two are the basic ones every aspiring barista should get to know.
Being mindful every time you drink coffee is key to developing a more sophisticated palate for coffee. In time, a Barista can tell even the slightest of differences: With just a sip of espresso, you will have to know what kind of coffee you’re drinking, how it was ground down and whether it was prepared right or not.
A good Barista takes good care of his tools and materials, but the most important part of making a good coffee is to be completely focused on every part of the process. Operating the machines is as important as cleaning and taking care of them. They place an equal amount of attention to each part of the process: this is the key to the consistency in quality that makes a Barista.
One second can make an enormous difference when making coffee; burned coffee is unacceptable for a Barista—Even though you might not notice the difference at first, an expert can tell this by taste. There’s a particular amount of time that is required to get the coffee just right or to make the perfect milk foam for a specific drink.
While these are basic qualities that Baristas have in common, one trait that is also very important is a passion for their craft. The best ones stand out because they are always seeking out new, better ways to make coffee: self-actualizing is the one trait that really sets the difference among Baristas. Check out “5 Pro Tips to Become a Great Barista With Ease” for more inspiration on perfecting being a Barista
How to Become a Barista
The first step to becoming a barista is the coffee. Without a good coffee bean, the barista does not exist. I can’t stress enough. No matter how much you try, how complicated you make the process, if you start out with a bad coffee, you can never have a good espresso. And any coffee drink starts with a good espresso. The second, most obvious step, is practice. Make an espresso, then make a hundred more: once you’ve mastered the espresso, you can start thinking about other things. But a good, solid espresso is the foundation of the flavor in your craft. As a Barista myself, I will list the most important things you can work on to start you on the way of the coffee.
Read a lot. You must do the due research on everything coffee related. Look up everything you can, and never be satisfied with how much you already know about coffee and making coffee. Knowledge goes hand in hand with being a Barista.
Need more tips on being a great Barista after reading this? Take a look at “How To Be A Barista 101” for another full guide, written by a seasoned barista themselves!
Love for Coffee
Drink a lot of coffee. Familiarize yourself with the taste of coffee. Go to as many places as you can from the lowest-tech ones that will ground the beans by hand to the places that push a button and a Frappuccino comes out. If you don’t know how good coffee tastes, you won’t be able to make it.
Invest in a good set of tools. This makes a world of difference when starting out. Do your research, and get yourself a good basic set of tools. Everybody has their preferences, but for starting you will need only the necessary, which are:
A scale. A simple, basic scale is the easiest way for you to get the doses of coffee right so you don’t end up confused, wondering what part you did wrong at the end. Spoiler: You either used too much or too little. Don’t measure by sight! Invest in a good scale.
The coffee grinder. A semi-automatic grinder will do the job for you in the beginning, make sure it has at least three settings. You don’t need to buy a fancy one when starting out.
A tamper. When preparing the ground coffee for extraction, a good tamper will save you a lot of trouble. I like to use a wooden one. Don’t cheap out on these because, sure, it’s such a small part of it, but a plastic one will leave the coffee uneven and make for a poor espresso. Get yourself at least a couple of these because you’ll misplace them frequently.
A timer. No, not your iPhone! A proper timer: A tool you will use expressly (see what I did there?) for brewing coffee. This will prevent your coffee from getting burnt and becoming bitter. Timing is very important. You’ll eventually know by instinct when to stop steaming the milk, too. Be sure to check out “How to Make Coffee Less Bitter?” to see what you can do if your coffee is too bitter.
The Espresso Machine.
Now we’re talking. Now, the espresso machine is the heart of coffee making. There are so many types, and they can be horribly expensive. Don’t worry, in my experience, a semi-automatic, single boiler machine can do the trick just fine. This is a machine that will let you make an espresso, and nothing more. But that’s, I repeat, the most important part. Don’t worry if there’s no steamer for you to froth the milk, the foam can come later, and can be done without a steamer. For you, my dear aspiring Barista, a single boiler machine is going to be your best friend.
As you start becoming familiar with your tools, you’ll want to experiment. But don’t be hasty. Stick to the basics first, and once you’re confident enough, you can go on to bigger things. I, for example, use a Moka Pot to brew my coffee because I think it makes coffee taste better. Everyone has their preferences, and you’ll learn yours in time. There is a new world ahead of you. Good luck!
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