Barista Skills: Unlock the Secrets to Coffee Mastery!

A professional barista in addition to the ability to deal with pressure and work quickly whilst maintaining consistently high standards, but more important is to have extensive specialty coffee knowledge including brewing techniques.

1. Manual & Batch Brewing

What specialty coffee shop menu is complete without its filter coffee?

Familiarise yourself with the main manual brewers, from the Kalita Wave to the AeroPress. Make sure you know the differences and brew coffee well but also make recommendations to customers.

Many specialty coffee shops also offer batch brew – some even prefer it to manual brewers. Batch brew isn’t always as respected as manual brew, but when done well it creates a consistent, delicious coffee. Understanding how to operate a manual brewer, and how to change brew time and bed depth to get the desired coffee profile, will be a valuable skill.

2. Grinding

Grinding is key to making great coffee. It is important to grind right before brewing, otherwise, your coffee will become stale. This should be understood before attempting to master any other barista techniques.

Secondly, you need to understand the importance of grind size for different brew methods and extraction, because it affects the flavor and strength of the brewed coffee. The finer the grind, the more surface area of the bean is exposed, resulting in a stronger flavor; conversely, the coarser the grind, the less surface area the beans expose and the lighter the flavor.

You'll need to learn how to calibrate your grinder for the espresso machine, as the ideal grind settings depend on the weather, the age of the roasted coffee, and more, varying daily or even hourly. Grinder calibration is one of the essential skills of a professional barista.

3. Making Milk Froth And Latte Art

Beautiful latte art can enhance customers' visual experience, reflecting the skill and quality of your baristas, and increasing customers' perception of the coffee's quality and value for money, combined with a terrific taste, making them more likely to tip for your professional services.

To make milk froth, a barista should be familiar with the steam wand on the espresso machine, and how to adjust the steam pressure and temperature to create the desired texture of the froth. They should also be familiar with the proper technique for frothing milk, such as using a circular motion and keeping the wand just below the surface of the milk.

4. Basic Coffee Knowledge

4.1 Coffee flavor profiles

Did you understand the basic coffee flavors and descriptors? Which are the most valuable (e.g. balance, acidity, sweetness)? Can you see the difference between a customer asking for "strong" or "strong" coffee?

Understanding coffee flavor profiles are essential for baristas, as it helps them to better communicate and recommend coffee to the customers, and provide a satisfying coffee-drinking experience.

4.2 Production& Processing & Roasting

Understanding the production, processing, and roasting of coffee will help baristas choose the right coffee beans and adjust the brewing method to make coffee faster, and they can also create unique flavors by roasting the beans themselves.

For example, know the flavor characteristics of different major producing regions of coffee beans, such as Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia, Ethiopia, India, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Peru.

Understand the characteristics of Natural, Washed, and Honey coffee beans.
Understand the difference between light roast, medium roast, and dark roast coffee.

4.3 Extraction & Brewing

In a specialty coffee shop, there’s much more to making coffee than pushing buttons. And so baristas need to understand the basics of extraction. This is the process by which coffee flavor compounds and aromas are extracted from the ground coffee water.

The extraction rate is affected by the grind size, ratio of coffee to water, water temperature, roast level, and more.

You should also understand the impact of other elements on the final cup profile: coffee freshness, filters, water quality…

5.Recipe Creation

Baristas first need to master 2 basic recipes: espresso/filter recipe creation, and signature beverages/mocktails.

Making espresso requires knowledge of brew time, temperature, grind setting, and more.

In order to improve the competitiveness of the store, employers may hope that baristas have their own unique coffee recipes and innovative ideas to increase their attractiveness to consumers. For example, use syrups, spices, and flowers to create unique drinks. This requires an understanding of flavor combinations, aroma, texture, and more – and it's something that usually only comes with experimentation and practice.

6. Cleaning & Hygiene

If you are a barista being hired, you may not avoid cleaning coffee equipment, as a clean environment can leave a good impression on customers, and frequent cleaning of the machine can extend the life of your machine and make clean-tasting coffee.

Every day, you’ll have efficiently to clean a variety of surfaces and equipment, including espresso machines, fridges, floors, and more. You’ll learn how to use specialized cleaning products and techniques, as well as how to keep track of food expiration dates.

Being an excellent barista is more than just making coffee, it requires a combination of technical knowledge, customer service skills, and the ability to work well with others with the right attitude and dedication, one can provide customers with an unforgettable experience.

Author: Lillian Mao
Date: 2023.02.17