How to Be a Professional Barista in the Italian Tradition
This is a guide not only to the traditions of an Italian Barista but also the skills and knowledge of a modern coffee connoisseur.
This Barista Guide appreciates the modern gourmet coffee lover and understands that he or she should know not only how to Steam and Froth Milk and pull great espresso shot(s) and make outstanding Espresso Drink Recipes like cappuccinos, mochas and lattes, you should also have a well-rounded knowledge of coffee itself.
The Well-Rounded Modern Barista
In an intelligent coffee shop discussion of these coffees the Barista may perhaps mention something about the history of the famous coffee blend of Mocha Java, and how it includes Arabian (Yemen) Mocha coffee as well as Indonesian Java Arabica coffee and how these coffees go together well because they have complementary characteristics.
As the discussion progresses, the Barista might also mention how the Mocha Java works so well due to the bright and clean, smooth quality of the Java coffee and how it is so well complemented by the pleasant wildness and lively intensity of the Yemen Mocha creating a well-balanced and yet quite complex coffee.
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Anecdotes from the History of Coffee a Modern Barista Trademark
If the Barista had read up on the matter in the World's Best History of Coffee they might also mention the interesting point about how the sailing ships that came from Java Island would arrive in the the great Yemen port of Mokha, and that is where the two types of coffee beans found their union there in the hulls of the wooden ships, and so the history the famous coffee blend is actually a very happy accident of history.
Of course if a patron or another Barista had already injected that comment into the intelligent Barista conversation then instead the Barista may comment about the Ethiopian Harrar Coffee and state an appreciation of its spicy and fragrant qualities and its heavy body with such a bold taste that it resonates in the cup.
It is likely the Barista will also want to comment about how this wonderful Arabica is coffee grown in southern Ethiopia at very high elevations, usually between about 4,500 feet and 6,300 feet above sea level.
The conversation might go something like this: “Yes, I do appreciate the winey and fruity, floral-toned acidity of the Ethiopian Harrar.”
“Yes indeed, I say, it's quite bright in the cup, sometimes even intense with a splendid heady aroma.”
“Yes, yes, that aroma! So rich and pungent, and I often detect notes of blackberries.”
“True, true, and have you noticed in that luxurious and long-lingering finish that sometimes it seems slightly fermented with intense notes of jasmine.”
“Indeed, indeed, the Harrar is also so edgy and bold. I really enjoy its complexity of spice tones including cardamom, cinnamon and apricots.”
“Yes, yes, and also sometimes notes of blueberry jam and even compote.”
“And some Harrars exhibit tones of very rich, dark chocolate.”
“Mmmm, Mmm,” nods the Barista.
A conversation can on like this for quite some time, just about one particular coffee. Listen closely if you are amongst this crowd as you can learn a lot.
Studying Up On Coffee - A Master Barista Has a World of Experience
If you want to study up on your own then read about all of the world's top gourmet coffees and also study up on all the coffee terms in the Coffee and Espresso Glossary. If you are serious about being a master Barista then study this glossary for several hours and you will be amazed how much you learn.
No Barista Guide is complete without a detailed description of how to brew a perfect espresso shot using an espresso machine. The first step is making sure you acquire very high quality coffee which has been cultivated and processed properly and then roasted just before it was shipped, or roasted in your very own coffee house.
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Master Barista Tips for Grinding Coffee
Coffee grinding should be done with a type of burr coffee grinder known as a conical burr grinder, and the grinding should be done just before brewing for the freshest tastes and aromas. (See Grinding Coffee For Espresso).
For one shot of espresso use about 8 grams of ground coffee (approximately two tablespoons). Before you begin brewing the espresso make sure to pre-warm the demitasse and also the portafilter of the espresso machine by running them under very hot water.
Tamping and Brewing the Espresso - Master Barista Tips
As you tamp (compact) the coffee into the portafilter use a firm pressure with just a slight twist to help to seal the puck of coffee and prevent any weak spots where hot water may blow through and cause under-extraction.
After you hit the brew button and the espresso starts flowing out of the spout it should be about the color of maple syrup. Proper espresso brewing requires an attention to the espresso and the many variable involved so you can decide what is the perfect amount of time to brew the shot and when to stop the extraction process.
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Barista Tips - Fine Tuning for the Perfect Espresso Shot
If the espresso is flowing out of the spout too fast you may have tamped it too lightly or used to coarse of a coffee grind, leading to under extraction and a weak, watery shot.
If the espresso is coming out of the spout too slow then you may have ground the coffee to fine or tamped it too firmly causing a dark and bitter over-extracted shot.
The Espresso Crema - Barista Course Tips
Once about one-third of the shot has poured you should see the fine, golden-brown crema begin to form on top. The crema is a very important part of the espresso shot because it contains the fine flavors and aromatic qualities of the shot.
As the espresso continues to flow into the demitasse notice the layers beginning to form in the shop. The layers of an espresso shot consist of the heart, the body and the crema.
Barista Tips - The Heart, Body and Crema of the Espresso Shot
The heart is at the bottom and should be distinctly separated from the body. If it is not this is a sign of an under-extracted shot. Try tamping the coffee more firmly or using a finer grind size.
The body is in the middle of the shot and shouldn't be too dark or it is a sign of over-extraction and may cause a burnt taste. Try tamping the coffee less firmly or using a finer grind.
A master Barista will fine tune the espresso brewing process for the particular espresso machine and the type of coffee in order to create an intense and concentrated shot with just the proper amount of sweetness.
To ensure the espresso machine is working properly see Technical Specifications for a proper espresso and make sure the temperature and pressure are correct.
Barista Course Guide to Steaming and Frothing Milk
The steamed milk should be rich and creamy with a velvety consistency. The foam should be pourable and shapeable, consisting of only very fine bubbles enhancing the drink and creating a harmony of flavors.
When you begin the process take the milk directly form the refrigerator and fill the steaming pitcher about one-third full. Now place a wet towel over the espresso machine steaming wand for a couple seconds and turn the steam on to purge any water out of the system.
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Finding the Sweet Spot - Barista Course Milk Steaming Tips
Place the steaming wand into the steaming pitcher and turn on the steam. The tip of the wand should be just below the surface of the milk and just off-center so the milk starts to spin around in a circular motion.
Listen for a tell-tale hissing sound that tell you the milk is being frothed properly - this is known as the “sweet spot.”
Once you find the sweet spot you won't need to do anything but hold the steaming pitcher steadily without moving it up or down, and the milk will continue to spin around in a vortex.
As the volume of the milk begins to expand (eventually more than doubling) you will need to slowly lower the steaming pitcher so the steam wand stays the right distance beneath the surface (again, listen for the hissing sound).
Barista Steaming Tips - Creating a Creamy and Velvety Milk
As the milk grows richer in texture due to the air being injected into it the consistency will begin to get very rich and creamy. This is what you want for your espresso coffee drinks. If any large bubbles are forming make sure to readjust your steam want so it just kisses the surface and the bubbles should roll back into the milk and disappear.
If you need lots of foam, say for a cappuccino, then position the tip of the steam wand nearer to the surface for a short time to create a large amount of foam.
When the temperature of the milk reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit then stop the steaming to avoid scalding the milk. Make sure and clean the steam wand off, and again use a wet towel to cover the tip and turn the steam on a moment to remove any milk. Tidiness is an important habit of a master Barista.
Okay, now you can pull a perfect espresso shot and create velvety steamed milk and pourable, shapeable foam. You are ready to make some great Espresso Drinks! Check out all the recipes and learn to make the main drinks and you will be well on your way to becoming an expert Barista.
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Some Other Coffee Brewing Skills for the Master Barista
As a skilled Barista you will need to become familiar with a variety of coffee brewing devices from automatic drip coffee makers to the traditional French Press, always with the goal of creating a perfect cup of coffee.
A Knowledge of the World's Premium Gourmet Coffees
The world's coffees might generally be divided into the Arabian and African Coffees, the Asian, Indonesian, and Pacific Coffees, and the Coffees of the Americas. By gaining an understanding of each of these regions and the coffees they are known to produce you will made great steps toward the lofty achievement of master Barista.
Learn about the distinguishing characteristics of these coffees and gain an understanding of their fine and subtle qualities, the flavors and aromas, the coffee processing methods used, and also the proper roast profiles for each particular gourmet coffee.
Sample some Sulawesi Toraja Coffee and experience its multiple dimensions and expansive flavors, and learn about where it is grown in the southeastern highlands of Sulawesi and the unique Giling Basah wet-hull method of processing used.
One by one explore all of the world's finest coffees from the fragrant and spicy Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee to the smooth and silky Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee to the esteemed Kenya AA Coffee grown at more than 6,600 feet above sea level on Kenya's high plateaus.
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