Barista, in a word of introduction
In the past, it was thought that making coffee is a simple thing that does not require great skills. It was thought that it was enough to distinguish between loose and soluble coffee. Today, we have such a large variety of coffees, ways of brewing (from a coffee machine, the coffee after french press. aeropress and Chemex) that it is impossible to acquire all this knowledge quickly and easily. A person who has mastered it, and also constantly develops in this direction BARISTA. Barista is a professional in the field of coffee making, and his employment in a cafe or restaurant adds to its prestige and reputation.
Who can become a barista?
Everyone, but one thing is certain: everything must start with love for coffee. The greatest perfection is achieved by enthusiasts. There is a large range of courses and training for future baristas. In addition, many catering schools organize such courses for their students. Courses for baristas consist of a practical and theoretical part, in which participants learn the history of coffee, learn about the cultivation of coffee, types of coffee, methods of its collection and processing and selection of grains, their storage and transport, and smoking methods. Future baristas are also learning about how to make espresso and beverage on its basis.
You can also learn the art of making coffee by hiring a good coffee shop. If our guide is a talented barista, he will certainly guide us and teach us this profession. However, the most important aspect of learning is commitment, passion, patience and curiosity. A person who wants to become a barista should constantly develop, acquire new knowledge, read and follow news about coffee, because it is a very dynamic industry.
As has already been pointed out, a barista is usually a person who loves the aroma and taste of coffee. Why are not skills enough here? Even if you really just need to drink to really learn about coffee. It is necessary to learn about different flavors, remember them, try them and experiment, that’s how our sensory memory arises. Knowledge and experience are the most important components of a barista’s success.
The rules of a perfect espresso
An important element of the course is getting to know 4M policy, which forms the basis of the barista’s work. It is a principle from Italy, consisting of the main elements that allow professional preparation of coffee and without them is excluded to get a good espresso. However, it should be remembered that these points must closely co-exist with each other and only the perfection of each of them guarantees a perfect espresso. These are:
- La Macchina – high-quality pressure espresso machine;
- La Maccinadosatore – coffee grinder;
- La Miscela – a mixture of good quality;
- La Mano – a barista’s hand, and therefore the skills he has;
Principle 4M is the basis, however, there are a number of other factors that play an important role in the entire espresso brewing process. It is important, among other things, to set the proper parameters of the machine, care for its cleanliness and regular maintenance. Another key issue is water in the end, up to 98% of the espresso consists of water and it essentially influences the taste of the final drink. Every barista will admit that the use of even the best quality beans does not guarantee success if we omit the issue of adequate water. Unfiltered water, poor quality spoils the taste, aroma and appearance of espresso. The use of a water filter allows to eliminate impurities contained in it, deprives it of the mineral compounds, thanks to which the water is not too hard. In addition, filtered water helps protect the machine from scale formation, which is responsible for about 70% of all its failures. Other factors affecting the preparation of espresso are, for example, the temperature of water, which should oscillate between 90 – 95 ° C, the right coffee beating to avoid inequalities and depressions, the quality of used cups, which is recommended to use heated porcelain cups with a thick wall and length extraction, i.e. brewing espresso, which should last about 25 – 30 seconds. By keeping the above points, we can be sure that the resulting espresso will be perfect.
Once the basic knowledge and skills are mastered, the future barista goes to a higher level of initiation, that is, he learns the secrets latte art. Preparation of coffee outside the taste values also means visual effects. While mastering the technique of decorating coffee with a heart or a rosette of frothed milk is not very complicated, the works of the best baristas are able to pass all imaginations. Here, for example, about 3D ornaments or very precise pictures. The art of latte art is a difficult subject, without a proper course it is very difficult to acquire the appropriate knowledge and skills necessary to create milky designs. Without the help of a qualified barista, learning can be long and not very effective. The technique of latte art requires a lot of patience and self-discipline. Just like in every area of life, training makes perfect, therefore to achieve the master level, it is necessary to constantly deepen your knowledge and perseverance in the exercises. The Latte Art World Championships debuted in 2004 in Singapore, while in Poland they have been running continuously since 2007. During the competition, each participant has 6 minutes to create 4 milk coffees. Patterns are presented in photographs, which each of the participating competitors receives earlier. The competition is based on the most accurate representation of the pattern from the photograph. What is important here is the ability to reproduce a given drawing, so that it would render 100% of the ideal from photography. The formula that the barista competing in the competition should present should meet the following conditions:
- Contrast, i.e. a distinct brown border on the surface of the espresso, not interrupted in any place;
- Symmetry, that is, the same appearance of the right and left side of the pattern
- The position of the pattern, important for the created pattern to be in the middle of the cup and raising the cup for the right ear, the figure should be facing towards us;
- The size of the pattern, the pattern should be proportional to the size of the cup in which it is given.
Barista and his role in a cafe
Of course, the main task of the barista is to prepare coffee according to the aforementioned principles and to give it to customers so as to show the wide range of taste and aroma of the prepared drink. To be able to determine the coffee as perfect, the barista has to take care of many factors, including use the right mix and proportion of coffee, choose the degree of grinding grains, coffee brewing time, degree of whipping, temperature and water pressure in the coffee machine.
Barista also cares about his work technique. It checks the condition and cleanliness of the coffee machine and other devices it uses. It makes sure that the stock of necessary products is not exhausted. He makes sure that the mixture of seeds is freshly and appropriately ground. In addition, it ensures that the coffee is stored properly. Often, it also accepts the delivery of products and makes sure that the coffees reach the best quality coffee.
Barista choosing the coffee with which he works draws attention to the country of its origin, plantations and the height at which it is grown, the method of processing grains and ultimately how it was burned out. Before she decides on a particular type of coffee, she tests it for taste (this is probably the most pleasant stage). Checks how the coffee tastes from the espresso machine, and how using alternative brewing methods, e.g. Chemex or dripper.
Communication is an important feature of the barista
A professional barista can not only make excellent coffee, but also talk about it. That’s why interpersonal skills are so important in this profession. Openness, ease in making contacts, boldness, the ability to enjoy spending time with people as well as cheerfulness and a friendly smile are essential. Barista helps clients choose the right coffee for them, provides detailed information, thus arousing customers’ trust. It tells about the coffee itself as well as the brewing devices. It takes into account the preferences of guests and the dishes ordered by them. Barists can also educate cafe customers through shows, workshops or tastings.
Other barista features
Barista’s work also requires divisibility of attention, the ability to perform several activities simultaneously and perfect reflexes. Another very important feature is having knowledge of sales techniques and sales psychology because barista is also a kind of salesman who depends on the sales volume in the cafe and customer satisfaction. The barista profession is also connected with the necessity to speak foreign languages at least at the basic level, above all English.
Barista and the master level
The best baristas have the opportunity to show off their skills in national competitions (eg Polish Barista Championships) and international competitions (e.g. Barista World Championship). Baristas can and even should know current trends and novelties in the industry and constantly expand their skills through participation in improving courses, especially in the field of latte art and cup tasting.
And finally a few curiosities
- Blind latte art – is one of the most spectacular ways to decorate coffee with milk drawings, because baristas do it … blindfolded.
- Cup Tasters Championship – players participating in them must demonstrate a great ability to distinguish the taste of coffee. They receive eight sets, each of them consisting of three cups of coffee, two of which are the same and one different. The differences are so delicate that barely perceptible – however, the task of a barista is to recognize them.
- Barista for rent – now a barista’s job is not just a cafe or restaurant. It is more and more often that organizers of conferences, galas, fairs or various meetings employ a barista who makes the time for participants professionally preparing coffee. It happens that a barista is also rented for a wedding. The introduction of such a solution will certainly give the event exclusivity and publicity.