by Dan Harrington on March 31, 2011

Complete Barista Guide and Essential Barista Tips

The craft of a fine Barista is to make exceptional coffee beverages including Cappuccinos and Lattes and a whole range of other espresso-based specialty coffee drinks.

Of course the Barista should also be able to brew The Perfect Cup of Coffee and should have a knowledge of fine Espresso Cuisine.

Extraction of Espresso Shots Is Fundamental Barista Skill

It all begins with pulling the Perfect Espresso Shot using an espresso machine. The hot water under high pressure allows for optimal flavors and aroma extraction.

Roasting and Grinding Coffee for Espresso – Barista Tips

Only premium gourmet coffee beans should be used, and proper roasting of the coffee is essential. A Dark Roast typically used for espresso, and this dark roast is also known as Espresso Roast.

The coffee should be fresh-roasted and shipped in a valve-sealed bag to preserve optimum freshness. Make sure the gourmet coffee has been stored in a dry, cool and dark location and do not store coffee beans in the freezer or refrigerator.

Grinding Coffee for the Perfect Espresso Shot

The Barista should have a knowledge of coffee grinding with the typical grind size for espresso coffee being very fine. See Grinding Coffee for Espresso. The grind size may need to be varied a bit depending upon the type of espresso machine being used.

When grinding the coffee bypass the blade coffee grinder because it can re-roast the beans due to excess heat and also produces an inconsistent grind size compared to a Burr Coffee Grinder.

The best type of burr coffee grinder is a  conical burr grinder which has a few advantages compared to a wheel burr grinder, and creates a consistent grind size suitable for bringing out all of the finest qualities of the specialty coffee.

Coffee Tamping – Compacting the Coffee Into the Portafilter

Once the coffee is ground it needs to be tamped (compacted) into the portafilter of the espresso machine. Use a medium amount of firmness (the later you can fine tune it lighter or harder) and also apply a slight twisting motion as you tamp the coffee with the tamper.

The twisting and the firm pressure should seal the puck so there are no weak spots where the hot pressurized water may blow or stream through creating an under-extracted and watery espresso shot.

Barista Definition and Barista Job Description continued:

Adjusting the Tamping Pressure A Key Barista Skill

You will know if you tamped to firmly because the espresso will stream too slowly out of the spout of the espresso machine and may be dark and bitter, and you will know if you tamped too lightly because it will flow out too fast and be weak and watery.

Follow the proper technical specifications for brewing robust and concentrated espresso. About 8 grams (2 tablespoons) of roasted and ground coffee should be used for each shot of espresso.

Ensuring the Seal – Clamping In the Portafilter

Once you have tamped the roasted and ground coffee into the portafilter of the espresso machine, make sure the top surface of the coffee is even and level, and brush any loose coffee grounds off the rim of the portafilter to ensure a tight seal once you lock the portafilter into the group of the espresso machine.

Make sure you pre-warm both the portafilter and the demitasse before brewing by running them under very hot water.

Failure to do this can lower the effective brewing temperature and hinder proper flavor extraction. Some espresso machines automatically pre-warm the portafilter but you will still need to pre-warm the demitasse.

Calculating Optimal Espresso Brewing Time

The total brewing time of the espresso shot should be about 22 seconds though you may need to fine tune this by a few seconds in either direction depending upon various other factors such as the grind size, tamping pressure, type of coffee used, etc.

You will want to brew the espresso just long enough to extract the fine flavors and aromas but not too long because that will extract an unpleasant bitterness.

The final result should be an intensely concentrated, robust espresso shot. Atop the espresso shot should be a thin, fine layer of emulsified proteins and sugars known as the crema.

Essence of Espresso Shot Expressed in the Crema – The Mark of a Fine Barista

The crema contains the finest essence of the shot, the sweetness providing balance to the shot’s bitterness, and also helps to retain the intensity of the espresso shot until you consume it.

If you used too long of an extraction time you will notice that a white ring formed in the crema. This will create a very bitter taste and should be avoided.

Avoiding Over Extraction and Excess Bitterness in the Shot

Once a white ring begins to appear it means that all of the finest flavors and aromas of the coffee has been extracted and any further extraction will taint the shot with excess bitterness.

The proper way to consume an espresso shot is all at once in one hearty gulp and with great ceremony – this is known as having your espresso “solo.” The other way to have espresso is as part of an espresso-based specialty coffee drink.

Creating Velvety Steamed Milk for Harmonious Espresso Drinks

Another important Barista skill is the use of the espresso machine steaming wand for steaming and frothing milk to create a very velvety-textured steamed milk for use in espresso drinks.

While steaming the Barista also creates a very fine-bubbled foam that can go atop the espresso drink. This foam should be pourable as well as shapeable and serves as the perfect complement to the creamy milk and rich espresso blended together to create a delicious texture.

Barista Definition and Barista Job Description continued:

Tips For Steaming and Frothing Perfect Creamy Textured Milk

When you steam and froth milk its volume will increase by one hundred to two hundred percent. Always start with very cold milk just out of the refrigerator.

For the best foam use either one percent or two percent milk. Non-fat milk will not provide as rich of a texture as a milk with a higher fat content.

In general the more fat in the milk the more creamy and velvety the final texture of the steamed milk will be, however the volume of the milk will not increase as much as milk with a lower amount of fat.

Start the steaming and frothing process by first purging any water from the espresso machine steam wand. You can do this by using a wet towel held over the end of the steam wand as you turn on the pressure for one second. Use caution as the steam is hot.

Finding the Sweet Spot When Steaming and Frothing Milk for Espresso Drinks – The Prime Barista Skill

Now lift up the steaming pitcher of milk to the steaming wand so that the tip of the wand is just beneath the surface of the milk and slightly tilted at an angle so that the milk begins to spin around in a rolling vortex.

You’ll know you have found the “sweet spot” when you hear a hissing sound somewhat like something frying in a pan.

Once you have found the proper spot to hold the steaming pitcher then you shouldn’t have to move it at all as the milk continues to spin around and be injected with air from the steam wand.

You should be able to hold the steaming pitcher still as the milk spins, though you will need to slowly lower the steaming pitcher as the volume of the milk expands.

Finishing Up the Steaming

Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature of the milk during the steaming and frothing process and stop the steaming once the milk reaches 145 degrees. If it gets any hotter it can scald the milk and create an unpleasant burnt taste that taints the flavor of the espresso drink.

After steaming take a moment to clean off the steam wand, and again use a wet towel over the end as you purge the system of any milk and then wipe down the outside of the steaming wand.

There, you did it, you created great steamed milk and foam for making Cappuccinos, Lattes and a whole variety of other Gourmet Coffee Drinks.

Barista Knowledge Is Paramount

A master Barista knows about the Taste Profiles of the World’s Gourmet Coffees. A knowledge of The History of Coffee is also important, as is a general awareness of the world’s prime coffee-growing regions and the finest premium gourmet coffees on the planet.

Check out the great Tanzania Peaberry coffee or Kenyan Coffees. Explore the tastes of Costa Rican Tarrazu or a deeply rich Yemen Mocha (Yemeni Coffee), and savor a fine Guatemalan Huehuetenango or Nicaragua coffee.

Enjoy the finest Asia, Indonesia and Pacific Gourmet Coffees, discover the smooth Brazilian Bourbon Santos or Costa Rica Monte Crisol.

Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is a creamy delight on the palate, while the Ethiopian Harrar Coffee and Ethiopian Sidamo Coffee will stun you with their winey fruitiness and substantial acidity.

Barista Knowledge of Basic Coffee Characteristics

As you learn about the world’s finest gourmet coffees you will want to gain an understanding of the basic characteristics of coffee including the body, aroma, sweetness/bitterness, acidity and aftertaste.

These are the qualities that analyzed and evaluated at a coffee cupping (professional coffee tasting) or a competitive Barista event. You can learn more by viewing the Gourmet Coffee Tasting Tips.

Thanks For Reading Barista Job Description in Gourmet Coffee Lovers!

{ 5 trackbacks }

Coffee Prices Rising Due to Arabica Coffee Shortage in 2011
April 1, 2011 at 3:30 am
Starbucks 2011
April 3, 2011 at 12:21 am
Starbucks Increases Coffee Prices in 2011 On Starbuck Packaged Coffee
April 8, 2011 at 1:32 am
Coffee Prices Going Up 2011 and 2012
April 12, 2011 at 3:07 am
Costa Coffee 2011
May 4, 2011 at 3:15 am

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: