If you want to know how to be a great barista, you should first learn the function of every single tool at the barista workstation.
It’s important to learn how to operate an espresso machine, grinders, have a set of special towels, use right portafilters and pitchers. Good knowledge of your workflow makes it easier for you to focus on practicing your latte art or communicating with customers.
All these factors contribute to a high quality service and better customer experience.
Your Espresso machine
After you start your training at the coffee shop you’ll be introduced to a heart of any coffee shop – an espresso machine. An espresso machine is any piece of equipment dedicated to brewing espresso shots.
The main principle of any espresso machine’s work is that the hot water (195°- 205°F) is running under an extremely high pressure (at 9-10 atm) through portafilters filled with coffee.
Espresso machines can be manual, semi-automatic, automatic and super automatic.
An espresso machine consists of various components, that you’ll get acquainted as soon as you get your job as a barista.
A grinder is the second most important piece of equipment at your barista workstation. To operate a grinder you need to know if it is a doser or doserless grinder. A doserless grinder has no space for holding ground coffee. Everything you grind you’ll use immediately. Be careful not no waste your precious coffee beans!
Usually at your coffee shop you’ll see two grinders – one for a common blend, another – for decaf.
Shot glasses and a scale
As you dial in your coffee every morning you’ll need clear shot glasses to watch the color, volume, body and the output of your espresso shots.
It’s also a good idea to have a digital scale at your workstation, especially if you are doing your initial barista training. You’ll use a scale to measure the weight of your ground coffee and the extraction dose.
A tamper is a small but extremely important barista tool. It is used to evenly tamp ground espresso beans in a portafilter. The quality of your final extraction will depend on how well you compress your coffee. Always choose the portafilter that you are most comfortable with. Don’t tamp with your fingers. Hold the tamper like a door knob and tamp with one smooth motion. Remember not to bend your wrist and hold your hand straight. Monotonous repeated actions can cause problems with your joint.
The secret of how to be a barista is in keeping your workstation impeccable. Have at least 3 towels: one for portafilters to keep them dry and clean of any contaminants. Have a dedicated moist towel for a steam wand. You will use it every single time after steaming. With a third towel you’ll want to wipe the drip tray of the espresso machine. You might also want to have one more towel for cleaning the counter top.
Your barista workstation need to be ergonomic. That’s why the knock box should be easily reached every time you need to knock off too much coffee after levelling and knock out coffee from a portafilter after brewing.
At your barista workstation it’s worth having at least three pitchers of different sizes for steaming different amounts of milk:
- 350 ml (12 oz) – for cappuccino size and smaller beverages. If you use this pitcher to steam your milk for latte, then fill only half of it.
- 600 ml (20 oz) – for different sizes of latte.
- 950 ml (32 oz) – for steaming two drinks at once or for a large latte.
It’s essential to keep your machine and workstation clean. A barista always works in front of the customers so you want your working place to look nice and esthetic during the day and after finishing your night shift. A barista uses a brush to swipe coffee grounds. Other brushes are to clean groupheads and the steam wand of the espresso machine.
Among other maintenance tools you’ll see a blind portafilter, screwdriver. Detergent, etc. All of them are used to run a full backflush at least twice a day in a busy coffee shop.
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