Do you know what a Barista is? A barista is a person who makes and serves coffee drinks to customers in a shop or coffee shop. You could say, he is the spearhead that determines a cup of coffee that can be enjoyed by the public. Therefore, he must have qualified knowledge in matters of coffee.
For those of you who often have coffee in cafes or coffee shops, the term barista is something that is commonly heard. Then what is a coffee barista? What are the duties and expertise? Why can it only be found in a typical Italian coffee shop?
For those of you who don’t know, the barista is the name for people who mix coffee in a coffee shop. Even though it sounds trivial, the task is not easy and requires expertise. The coffee brewers are also not arbitrary, they need practice before they finally serve customers.
Not only dealing with customers, but the skills of these coffee mixers also competed. In Indonesia alone, an annual national-level barista competition has been held since 2004. Some of the finalists even competed at the world level and won.
In this article, we will explain in full what a barista is, from responsibility to the required training. Then is it possible for someone to become a barista without formal courses? Check out the full discussion to the end!
To answer what a barista is, let’s look at its origins first. Indeed, the increasing number of people who choose the profession as a barista is influenced by the success of the coffee franchise business that broke out in the second wave (1960s). But did you know that it turns out that baristas have been around a lot longer?
History of the Barista
Etymologically, barista means a bartender or bartender in Italian. In their home country, a male barista is called barista while a female barista is called barista. In Italy, this profession is not limited to making coffee drinks, but all kinds of drinks including alcohol.
The coffee brewing profession is thought to have existed since the 15th century when coffee shops first opened in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. This coffee shop is often used for relaxing, discussing, and playing chess for residents. Over time, other shops in Arabia emerged as the coffee trade expanded.
In Europe, coffee shops first appeared in 1629 in Venice, Italy. After that, this beverage shop business has sprung up not only in Italy but also in other countries such as England, France, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland, and many more.
Although typical Italian coffee shops have developed in Europe since the 1600s, the term barista as a coffee maker has its origin in the United States. In the 1900s, many Italian immigrants opened stalls or stalls selling coffee dishes typical of their home countries.
These stalls originally opened in densely populated areas of Italian origin, such as New York, Little Italy, Boston, and Greenwich Village. This shop was gradually popular among the people of the United States, then penetrated other cities in the early 1950s.
People call this shop a cafe which means coffee in several languages. Also, the majority of shops write a cafe as a sign that they provide drinks from the seeds of this Coffea plant. To describe the person who works behind a coffee shop bar, people call him a barista.
The barista called for coffee mixers continues to be used in line with the development of the coffee and cafe industry. Not only do associations appear in each country, but there are also certifications, training, and competitions.
Also, there were franchise shops that later expanded to many countries. This helps promote the habit of drinking coffee and absorbs a lot of labor to make this bitter drink. Because of this, the barista is not only a promising profession but also quite prestigious.
The difference between a bartender and a barista
Barista and bartender have the same meaning but are synonymous with different professions. Because in the United States at that time, before Italian cafes or coffee shops emerged, there were many pubs and clubs. These places have bars that sell alcoholic drinks prepared and served by bartenders.
Since most coffee shops at that time sold typical Italian drinks, people were accustomed to calling the barista. The call continues to be used to distinguish the drinks served.
Apart from the type of drink, there is no difference between a barista and a bartender. Both of them must mix drinks and serve customers with the skills and tools that are on their bar tables.
Duties and Responsibilities of a Barista
Here it explains that three arts must be mastered by a barista. The art of serving, serving, and concocting coffee. Therefore, the duties of a barista in a cafe are as follows.
1. Make Delicious Coffee
After knowing what a barista is, of course, you can already guess the main task, mixing drinks from coffee beans. A good bartender can not only brew using a machine but also use the manual method. For example pour-over, siphon, collision, and plunger.
Making delicious coffee doesn’t just depend on brewing skills. A bar waiter is also required to be able to mix delicious house blends. Therefore, the majority of cafe baristas who are not in the form of a franchise are responsible for choosing the beans used.
2. Operate and Maintain Equipment
A barista or barmaid is the spearhead of a coffee shop, especially in determining the taste of coffee that customers will enjoy. Apart from the taste of the drinks, their actions can also be entertainment. Some cafes place a bar table in the middle of the room so that customers can see the mixers in action. Therefore, the skills to use all kinds of brewing tools are needed.
But did you know that barista duties are not limited to that? Apart from concocting, concocting, and brewing drinks, a barmaid is also responsible for caring for the tools. Ranging from small ones like glasses and pour over cones, to large and complex ones like espresso machines.
3. Keeping the Bar Clean
Have you ever come to a coffee shop where the bar table is messy and dirty? If so, how would you feel when you wanted to order a drink or enjoy a meal at the table? Ifill? Disgusted? or even give up on coming there again?
The bar table is the face of a coffee shop, not only is it a place to process orders, but it is also the center of transactions and attention in the room. Keeping it clean is the responsibility of a barista.
The cleanliness of the workplace affects not only the appearance but also the product. Like a chef who always keeps his workplace tidy so that he is efficient at work, so is the coffee brewer.
4. Make Non-Coffee Drinks
In what part is a barista it is explained that the term is identical to a bar waiter who provides coffee. However, the cafes no longer only sell this delicious bitter drink. A non-coffee menu is provided so that people who are not strong with caffeine are still willing to come and spend time at the place.
Therefore, baristas are also required to be able to make non-coffee drinks. Some of the menus that are usually available at cafes are matcha latte, red velvet latte, chocolate, tea, and mocktails.
5. Communicating with Customers
Don’t think that being a barista is just about brewing drinks, making customers feel comfortable is also important. Just imagine if you are new to the world of coffee, come to a coffee shop, but meet a bitchy barman.
Therefore, a bar waiter must also have good communication skills. Not only can customers feel comfortable, but it can bring together customers who are unfamiliar with coffee with dishes that match them.
Requirements to Become a Barista
After understanding what the barista’s duties are, are you interested in a career as a barmaid? If so, it turns out that the conditions are not difficult, it’s just that it takes persistence in practicing and exploring the world of coffee.
It is stated that barista science consists of four bases. Assess the quality of ingredients, operate the espresso machine, grinder (grinder), and mix coffee.
To master these basic skills, you need to practice diligently, patiently, and thoroughly. Starting from seeing and studying the process of processing coffee beans, grinding, to getting used to using brewing tools.
In the industry, the barista is one of the important people in promoting the coffee habit. Therefore, you also need to broaden your horizons in the world of coffee and train your sense of taste. The trick is to taste a variety of dishes, whether they are delicious or not.
Because, how can you become a coffee brewer if you never drink coffee? Or make a great drink if you never know what tastes bad? In an interview on private television, a barista named Novita Riantika once told me that she could drink twenty cups of coffee in a day while practicing.
To start a career as a barista in Indonesia, you are not required to attend certain schools or courses. Although indeed, when practicing at a school or course institution you will get easy access to tools, coffee beans, and the guidance of experienced instructors.
People who do not take courses are usually self-taught at home. The problem is, not everyone has an espresso machine because they are quite expensive. Because of this, many people start working as junior baristas, servers, or just helpers at coffee shops while learning from more senior baristas.
Training to Become a Barista
Many places provide courses and training to become a barista. All course places have the same basic material, the only thing that distinguishes is the tools, instructors, and the division of the portion of the hour. The following are some of the main training materials to become a barista.
Every customer who walks into your coffee shop is king, no king wants to be served badly. Serving customers is the job of a barista, which is why training in the art of service or hospitality is required.
Almost all courses or senior baristas will teach you standards so you can accommodate the needs of your customers who come. This material not only explains knowledge about business and the world of coffee but also how to deal with customers. Because it’s useless if the coffee is delicious but customers give upcoming because you’re grumpy, bitchy, or don’t even understand coffee.
2. Coffee Cupping and Olfactory Skills
After learning about hospitality, you will be taught about coffee cupping. For those who don’t know, cupping is a way to judge a coffee based on its taste and aroma profile. Baristas not only have to make drinks but also mix them, which is why this technique is very important.
For maximum cupping, you must train olfactory skills. If you are confused about what olfactory skill is in the world of coffee, the easy thing is the barista’s ability to distinguish the aroma of steeping beans from one another.
The only way to practice this skill is to try and taste coffee. Meanwhile, usually, the course only lasts three days to a week, so it takes extra practice outside of course hours.
In this session, you will also be taught how to choose good coffee beans and how to store them so they last. So you can find out the roasting level and grade of the beans you are using. For a cafe or coffee shop, usually use grade 1 coffee beans.
3. Examining Coffee Extraction and the Factors Affecting It
The coffee you drink is the result of the extraction of the roasted and ground Coffea beans. This extraction is not a simple matter, some theories and factors influence it.
In Little Coffee Know it All, Shawn Steiman explains, “Brewing is a simple process of solute (coffee particles) with solvent (water) from a matrix (coffee grounds) to produce a solution (drink).” He added, “We need to understand every parameter that affects extraction, starting from energy (temperature), water quality, surface area, contact time, agitation, pressure, ratio, filter type, and type of container.”
So, by tweaking these parameters to balance them with the character of the raw materials, delicious dishes can be created. Therefore, baristas need to know what coffee extraction is and what are the factors that must be taken into account.
Indeed, delicious coffee starts with quality raw materials. But delicious and expensive coffee beans can taste like dregs if not brewed properly. On the other hand, cheap beans can taste really good if you brew them right.
4. Manual Brewing
After understanding what coffee extraction is, the next thing is to practice manual brewing or brewing without a machine. There are various methods with various levels of difficulty. Starting from collision, pour-over, vacuum, press, plunger, to immerse.
In this exercise, you will not only be taught techniques or how to use the tools, but also ratios. Because, different brewing methods or tools, different ratios of water, and coffee powder. Some of the brewing tools that are usually available in cafes are v60, brewing, french press, and Vietnam drip.
Manual brew is one of the skills you have to master by rote when you want to become a barista. Because in cafes, brewing with the manual method is not only a process but also an attraction. Also, manual brewing can bring out a different coffee sensation when compared to steeping an espresso machine.
5. Espresso Machine Theory and Practice
Do you know what makes a barista different from the coffee artisans at other shops? The answer is its ability to make espresso-based drinks. Because this type of dish is a characteristic of the Italian state.
In the barista course, you will be taught various theories, mechanisms, and models of espresso machines on the market. Starting from automatic, semi-automatic, professional, to manual using a pressed skirt.
Not only a theory of how a machine works, but a barista must also know how to maintain it. Indonesian barista competition champion, Doddy Samsara, mentions in his book that the espresso machine and the barista are two things that cannot be separated. Therefore, you will also be taught how to check the machine and fix it if there is any damage.
6. Brewing espresso-based drinks
After knowing the theories and how the espresso machine works, the barista will be trained to make various espresso-based drinks. Making espresso-based drinks is not difficult because there is already a patent recipe, but it takes practice so that the results are consistent and efficient.
Because in cafes, this type of drink is usually ordered the most because it is made fast and tastes delicious. So the barista must be nimble and thorough if you don’t want customers to move to the next shop. Some espresso-based drinks for example are latte, cappuccino, macchiato, long black, con Panna, and many more.
7. Brewing Non-Coffee Drinks
To accommodate people who are not strong with caffeine, almost all coffee shops provide non-coffee menus. Of course, the barista remains the one who has to fulfill the desires of these customers. Then what non-coffee drinks are usually taught?
Some of the menus that are taught mostly are lattes. For those of you who don’t know, latte itself means milk. So the menus are drinks with a mixture of milk, it’s just that you don’t use coffee, but matcha, syrup, chocolate, or tea.
Apart from lattes, aspiring baristas will also be taught how to make mocktails. But this material is not taught in all courses.
8. Latte Art
The last material is about latte art or the art of drawing shapes in a cup of coffee. Latte art is included in the art of serving drinks, but not something mandatory for a barista. In courses, you will usually only be taught one or two basic shapes.
To be able to master latte art, you need a long practice, not just three or four days. Also, the quality of your drink must be delicious. It’s useless if it looks okay but tastes like dregs.
For those of you who are obsessed with the art of drawing on a cup of latte, there is a separate course that you can take. Unlike the barista course, this course intensively teaches drawing techniques from flat to embossed.
Tips for Becoming a Good Coffee Barista
After knowing what the requirements are and how to train a barista, it doesn’t mean you won’t have problems. Here are some tips that might help while working or running your business.
1. Be Diligent in Rinsing the Group Head
One of the tasks of the barista is to clean the premises and tools so that they can work effectively. Therefore, the first tip for becoming a good barista is to clean the group heads on the espresso machine frequently. The trick is to drain a little hot water from the machine, usually, this process is called rinsing.
Rinsing may seem trivial, but diligently doing it has an effect on the result of the brew. Because that way the remaining extraction or even the dregs from the previous brew is not mixed with the new drink. So the results can be more consistent and free from unpleasant odors and tastes.
2. Don’t hesitate to experiment
Shawn Steiman in The Little Coffee Know it All said that coffee is not complicated rocket science. But to understand it is not easy, like studying chemistry and physics.
So, don’t hesitate to experiment and make a variety of coffees. Even if you graduate from a barista school or have years of experience working, experimentation is still needed. Without trying new things you will not be able to innovate.
3. Be patient
Tells of a coffee warrior. The term is to describe a customer who walks into a cafe to sneer at the barista.
This swordsman has various behavior, some order something outside the menu, ask very detailed questions, hoping the barista is confused, and even bring his beans for the barista to brew. Upset? Naturally, but do you want to make a fuss and annoy other customers?
That’s why it’s important to learn to be friendly and practice patience in dealing with customers. Just imagine, if the warriors were defeated by the insinuations of ordinary customers, there would be nothing.
4. Make a blend that doesn’t depend on one variety
The fourth tip relates to tip number two because the barista is responsible for preparing the house-blend. Making a house-blend is like painting, everyone can do it, but not everything feels good.
So to find a unique taste, baristas can spend weeks or maybe months experimenting. The more types of beans used, the more difficult it is to balance the taste. However, if only a few types are used or the dominant taste of one coffee bean, imagine if suddenly the stock runs out?
Housebound and cafe are like cellphones and batteries when the power runs out, the appliance will not work. Therefore, many brewers choose to spend their time experimenting to get a balanced formula using different types of coffee. So the risk of running out of green beans can be minimized.
5. Offer a special menu that day
What’s the tiring experiment for but no one has tried your dish? Therefore, don’t be shy and offer your cafe’s special menu to guests who come.
That way you can hear the responses as well as the responses of those who enjoy it. You can also improve the taste based on customer input. Who knows, because the delicious new dish can enter the regular menu.
Competition in the Coffee Competition
Not only work, business, or courses, baristas are also regulated by associations and competed. This coffee-making competition is held at various levels, from local, national to international.
1. Aspects of Assessment
You need to know that the coffee beans used for the competition must be provided by the participants themselves. This becomes the first assessment aspect, namely the quality of the materials used. This is the importance of knowing coffee and the ability of the barista to judge the ingredients used.
After assessing the coffee beans, the second aspect of the assessment is the product or result of the brew. The first test is to make espresso. In this test, there are six indicators of barista assessment, starting from cleanliness, tool preparation, residual waste, consistency, brewing speed, and extraction time. After that, the espresso will be assessed for its crema color, thickness, taste, and presentation.
After that, the participants will be asked to make a cappuccino. Barista assessment indicators on this drink test are the same as on the espresso test. While the drinks are judged differently, cappuccinos are judged based on taste, thickness, foam thickness, and presentation.
The third aspect assessed is service and communication. During the drink-making test, the barista will be asked questions by the judges during the process. He also has to present the results of the brew when serving drinks. What is assessed on this test is not only the friendliness and knowledge of coffee, but also the details of the work, tidiness, and appearance of the brewer himself.
2. Barista is a profession that requires passion
Now you know what a barista is and the duties, responsibilities, and basics that must be mastered. Hopefully, after reading the reviews above, your insight into the world of coffee will broaden.
Do you think you are interested in becoming a coffee brewer? If not, it doesn’t matter, because becoming an expert in brewing this bitter drink requires passion. The training time and costs required are not small.
If you are interested in a career as a barista, here are a few tips. First, take a barista course or class, because in addition to the knowledge you can also get connections. Second, if you take classes, you should first equip yourself with basic knowledge and terms about coffee.