Barista: working behind the other side of the counter

Choosing life with coffee

How did professional baristas come to live with coffee and choosetheir profession behind the coffee machine? Their path wasn't as clear-cut as choosing a job as a doctor or a lawyer. Famous coffee professionals didn't think about coffee when someone asked them about their dream job as a child.

"I always wanted to do something important for my company. When I was little I wanted to be a doctor, but when I look at what I do today, I can say that - in my own small way - I can make other people's days better with good coffee, and somehow I achieved what I wanted to be when I was little," says Francesco Sanapo, the 2010 Italian barista champion .

And another coffee pioneer, Jeremy Zhang, recalls his childhood aspirations, "Other than some superheroes in a cartoon, I didn't think much about it. I wasn't too sure at the time to have any wild dreams."

Working as a barista

As with any new job, the first job as a barista can be tough. You have to master everything from making different drinks, operating the coffee machine, the sweet bar and working the cash register. And you have to master it all while providing exceptional service.

Making a cup of coffee is all about the customer experience. After all, the effort that a barista puts into their job is dedicated to making sure that the customer enjoys a great cup of coffee.

What does a barista have to do?

Anyone can make a cup of coffee. But to make really good coffee, it takes someone special. It takes a lot of time to learn how to make good coffee. But the end result is worth it.

A professional barista understands how the grind size of coffee beans affects the overall taste, knows how to whisk milk and how to dose it easily.

With the growth of the coffee market, baristas need to learn more about the different types of coffee, identifying the connections between flavor and processing.

What should a barista be like?

The job of a barista requires a number of skills to master behind the counter:

  • Speed and efficiency: a barista is like an octopus. He or she can operate the coffee machine, prepare the coffees and, in short, do several things at once so that everything is perfect.
  • Diligence. He has everything in place so that no unexpected wave of people will derail him. The environment is clean and tidy and supplies are replenished.
  • Consistency. He'd rather make a new one than hand a guest an unsuccessful cup. He manages workplace coordination, supervises his staff and will not take a poorly prepared order.

A day in the life of a barista

A meticulous barista preparing espresso with a smile on his face. That's how we customers know him. But what happens behind the barista counter during the day?

Morning makes the day

For most baristas , the day starts early. Everything has to work perfectly, so everything needs to be set up and prepared in advance.

The coffee machine needs to be set up so that it can make great coffee. Usually, the first few espressos are thrown out until the coffee machine isproperly cleaned and ready. That the espresso is ready must be tasted by the barista and known by taste.

Checking that the barista has everything ready: the right coffee, the right grind, the right cups and saucers and of course last but not least the knowledge of how to create different coffee drinks.

Organized chaos

The most successful baristas, however, must be passionate about quality and customer service. From the first latte or cappuccino prepared in the morning, a career barista's entire shift canlast well into the evening hours.

Being a barista doesn't mean sitting around all day having coffee with customers. Usually a barista ison their feet all day, busy working behind the coffee machine or refilling supplies.

However, the days usually go by at a fast pace, but there's still time to paint decorative hearts on lattes, pour the best espresso and interact with customers.

What does the morning shift look like at the café?

Customers first

Like any job working with people, being a barista can be not only physically but mentally demanding. Handling coffee is an art in itself. Add to that the ability to work with people and you have the perfect barista.

According to barista Garrett Esary , one of the greatest parts of customer service is the ability to read people and understand how they want to be interacted with. Some people just want to come in, have a cup of coffee and leave. Other people like to talk about their life story.

Being a barista can be both an art and a science. Just like with food recipes, not everyone can cook, not everyone can be a chef. So take courses, do your research, try to stay informed about trends, and most importantly, practice at every opportunity.