8 Facts About Baristas

Are you one of those people who start their morning with a hot cup of coffee?

Do you enjoy learning everything there is to know about coffee including coffee bean origins, how brewing methods effect the taste and the best temperature to drink it at?

Well if you are so interested in these detail then why not consider making it your career to make a delicious cup of coffee ?

What profession does all this and more? Well that would be Baristas!

Barista comes from the Italian work for “bartender” and it is used to describe the men and women who prepare hot and cold coffee drinks and other beverages. They are well-regarded for their ability to create latte art and their expert knowledge in the complexities of coffee, its roasts and flavour subtleties. You can think of baristas as the coffee equivalent of wine sommeliers.

his week FoodGrads is taking a look at Baristas and how they make tasty drinks.

1. Baristas make flavorful coffee

Barista’s are professionals responsible for:

preparing specialty coffee and espresso drinks such as cappuccinos, lattes and mochas to high customer standards. They are skilled at using various pieces of coffee related equipment such as coffee grinders, espresso machines and frothers. Baristas perform fast, friendly, professional service which helps to keep customers coming back.

In addition, these professionals have a strong knowledge in the preparation of coffee drinks and general coffee harvesting techniques. They are able to explain the differences in tastes of regional coffee beans if a customer asks. Additionally, they are familiar with information such as proper brewing temperatures for coffee, the proper pressure used in an espresso machine and other coffee preparation techniques.

Aside from preparing coffee, these professionals conduct general service industry duties such as cleaning,performing inventory checks and taking food/beverage orders at a cash register. Baristas provide expert customer service, educating customers on drink menus, making recommendations based on their preferences and up-selling special items.

2. Baristas have this education

Becoming a barista is an occupation that you can enter in without any formal qualifications and sometimes no work experience at all. For some working in a coffee shop is the first job they will ever have. Typically these no work experience roles happen at larger chain establishments such as Starbucks and Second Cup.

However, many individuals looking to take this job from a job to career undergo educational courses. There are many school training programs across Canada and the United States such as the Canadian Barista and Coffee Academy and the Seattle Barista Academy. Training programs teach students the basics of grinding coffee and steaming milk, as well as how to properly operate professional equipment.

In the United Stated baristas are able to become certified through The Barista Guild of America, a trade association under the umbrella of the Specialty Coffee Association of America. They provide coursework to baristas and aspiring baristas which include “Introduction to Espresso” and “Espresso Bar Efficiency & Workflow.” There are various levels of certification including level 1, 2 and 3.

2. Baristas become coffee experts

There is so much to learn about coffee. Someone could dedicate their entire lives to the craft and still not uncover all of it’s secrets. Because there is so much knowledge to be gained with coffee this also means that there are many people who become experts in the field.

Barista start to become experts by learning to brew coffees that are prepared in their shops. Over time they learn the proper brewing temperatures of different coffee beverage, the taste variations in different regional coffee beans and the differences in fair trade and direct trade coffee.

Though their knowledge isn’t just limited to coffee! Many coffee shops serve other beverage such as tea allowing baristas to pick up side knowledge on these topics.

3. Baristas work in fast paced environments

If you have ever stood in line at a coffee shop then you know how busy these places can become. Master baristas are able to work in fast-based environments and not become overwhelmed during a shift. In order to combat these busy times barista’s will multi-task, performing more than one task at a time. For example, they will prepare three cups worth of espresso at once rather then one at a time. Additionally, they work with their co-workers so drinks can be made quickly and correctly. Not to mention, baristas are able to make everything look as though it was effortless!

4. Baristas have good customer service

Making a cup of coffee is all about the customer experience. After all, the effort a barista puts into their job is so that the customer can have a great cup of coffee. Many customers go into coffee shops simply for the experience and customer service. After all these are things that help set their shop apart from other competitors. Baristas are friendly and partake in small conversation with customers which can bring a smile to their day.

5. Baristas prepare and maintain coffee shops for service

As with any other service type profession, baristas must maintain a clean and organized workspace. When cleaning (and working) they return items to a designated spot to ensure speedy drink making during service. If a co-workers doesn’t put an item back in it’s proper spot this can mean losing valuable time looking for an item.

In addition to cleaning, baristas will also perform inventory checks before service to ensure that everything is accounted for. Inventory helps to combat the possibility of running out of an ingredient half way through the service. It is not a fun thing to tell a customer they can not complete their order because they ran out of milk!

6. Baristas have technical aptitude

Anyone can make a cup of coffee but it takes a special someone to create a truly good cup of coffee. Firstly, a barista understands how the grind size of coffee beans will affect the overall flavour. For example, they understand that if a coffee is found to be too bitter one solution is to use a coarser ground to slow down extraction and speed up the brew time. A second technical aptitude they will learn to master is how to froth milk and how to simply pout it. Learning how to make a good cup of coffee takes a lot of time to learn. However, the end result is worth it!

7. Baristas work as a team

You might think of baristas working alone creating coffees for customers but this simply is not the case. When working in a cafe jobs are evenly divided among team mates. For example, if a drink order is composed of three different coffee drinks it is likely that different staff members take on each each task. By each individual having their own role this prevents double orders from being made and confusion behind the counter.

Good baristas know that if they are in the weeds they should communicate this information to their managers so that the team can respond as necessary. Additionally, on a daily basis baristas will contribute to positive team environment by recognizing alarms or changes in partner morale and performance.

8. Baristas have these set of skills

Being a barista requires a range of skills however there are a few which are more essential than others. These skills include:

  • Meticulousness– Meticulousness is a term used to describe when someone pays attention to detail and takes care in all the smallest details. This is an important soft skill when brewing a cup of coffee. Specialty coffee shops want baristas who are meticulousness because it helps to ensure that quality coffee is made. Following well-established standards is a sign of meticulousness and someone who can make a good cup of coffee.
  • Consistency– When a customer orders a drink at their favorite coffee shop they expect that every time they go it will taste the same. Consistency is a sign that the barista is meticulous and pays the same amount of attention to each coffee order. Consistency can be seen in how they keep their stations clean and how they brew each cup of coffee.
  • Speed and efficiency– If you plan to work in a coffee shop then you need to be a person who is light on their feet. When customers order coffee they do not expect to wait very long for their orders so a barista has to act fast. In order to work fast they will multi-task and know how to make standard drinks well in advance. They also use their ability to work consistently to ensure that they get the actual drink order correct.

Veronica Hislop is a master’s student in Molecular Science at Ryerson University and a career partner with FoodGrads. She is passionate about bringing awareness to young people about the amazing opportunities available in the food and beverage industry.

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