Coffee Roasting

After you learn how to be a barista you might want to know more about the art and science of coffee roasting. Roasting is one of the variables that affect the final taste of the coffee you just had this morning. Roasting reveals the full flavor and potential of a green coffee bean and makes it ready to brew a delicious espresso.

Most coffee roasting machines use both conduction and convection. Conduction is the physical transfer of heat from the drum to the beans. Convection is heat travelling by air currents. The balance of both forces makes a great coffee roast.

In this online barista training course you will learn the basics of the coffee roasting.

Roasting stages

  1. Dehydrating the bean and removing excess moisture content. The coffee will smell green and grassy. The beans will start changing its color to yellowish.
  2. Yellowing stage (between 212 and 240 F) The beans go through a temperatures range where the basic chemical reactions start happening. The beans themselves get darker. You’ll sense bread baking aroma.
  3. First crack (between 250 and 300 F). When you hear a cracking sound it means that the beans are dried out. Thermic reactions, which put heat into the coffee, end and become extra thermic reactions where the bean starts releasing its own energy. The bean is light brown color.
  4. Roast development stage (between 350 and 400 F). Here’s where a coffee bean starts building simple sugars. After melting them a bean develops caramel, sugary tasting characteristics. You can stop roasting here or move to the next stage.
  5. Second crack (between 425 and 435 F). Under even higher temperatures a coffee bean start producing a popping sound. The beans release more oil and loose acidity.
  6. As the beans drop out of the drum you want to stop the roasting process as soon as possible by quickly cooling the beans.

Use fresh beans to extract your espresso because old coffee tends to lack body, be thin, boring with less character or acidity. Remember how old is your coffee when you extract an espresso shot. Freshly roasted coffee tend to be more gassy and bubbly. If espresso blend is aged you’ll need to dose more coffee to compensate for the gas loss.

Roasting types

Roasting type is often a matter of taste. Don’t be afraid to experiment when you roast your coffee. Let your eyes and your nose be the guide when to stop roasting.

You can roast your coffee at home and save a fortune and create your unique blends or try roasting at your coffee shop if it’s equipped with a coffee roaster. That’s a great skill, which will give you a deeper understanding of your coffee and where your espresso comes from.

There‘s no one unified standardization of roasting types. One of the ways to categorize roasting types is by color. Thus, light, medium, medium-dark and dark roasts are distinguished.

Lighter roasts have more acidity and slightly more caffeine, while darker roasts show more bitter and even carbony tasting profile. Lighter roasts also best reveal the origin of the bean, they might have fruity, chocolate and nutty notes. In darker beans the origin flavor and acidity are almost gone, smoky flavors are more evident.

How To Be a Barista: Coffee Shop Equipment


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A great barista knows well 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.

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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.

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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.

Knock box

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.

Maintenance tools

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.

What You Need to Know To Be a Barista

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What You Need to Know To Be a Barista

(1 in an occasional series)

Want to be a barista?  We’ve created a resource to help you learn the things that you need to learn to become the barista you want. For starters, explore our barista training blog for up-to-date relevant topics. Our online barista training series will help you learn the barista basic (stay tuned!).

Becoming a Barista: Brewing Excellent Coffee

There are several ways that coffee shops and coffee businesses brew coffee. Depending on which coffee shop you’ll work at, you will get more experience in a few of them in particular. Each brewing method extracts coffee a little differently but usually has the same principle (which we will be talking a little more about later).

Making coffee in a coffee shop usually means you will be working with an espresso machine.

Espresso is a method of extracting coffee. So, let’s talk about extraction since you will need to know this as a barista.

What is extraction?

Extraction is everything hot water takes from coffee.

As a barista, we want three different things from extraction:

  • We want a balanced extraction
  • We want an even extraction
  • We want a consistent extraction

What do extraction elements these mean?               

When we are talking about espresso that is balanced, we refer to a beverage that isn’t sour or overly bitter. This often results in a sweet and ideal profile that of course, has a desirable strength to it.

Let’s consider the whole shot of espresso as there are actual phases within the espresso that dictates taste and how it feels against your palate.

An espresso shot takes about 27-31 seconds to complete using an espresso machine.

A full shot of espresso: The flavors, taste and consistency differs depending on where along that extraction period we find ourselves.

Let us consider the first part of a full espresso shot. The first half of the shot is often sour as it contains the acidic compounds. In an under extracted shot, you will find a more sour taste.

As the water first starts extracting the coffee, the more soluble compounds get released first. These first solubles contain most of the caffeine within the shot.

The next or second part of the espresso shot, we find that more water is required to extract the remaining coffee. This extra water dilutes the espresso shot. Bitter tasting compounds and sugars are released in the second half of the espresso shot. These compounds work to counteract the acids that are quickly dissolved in the first half of the shot.

So, a balanced extraction requires both parts of the shot to be ideal.


It should be noted that an excellent tasting shot of espresso is often noted of having “sweet” tastes. Interestingly, there aren’t that many sugars in coffee. No doubt, the idea of sweetness is often confusing when it comes to describing coffee. Brewed coffee has rather a minuscule amount of natural sugar and yet the complexity of sugars and the caramelization of the beans creates a perception of sweetness. Still, sweetness – or the perception of sweetness – always makes for a great-tasting cup of coffee.

When we extract coffee via the espresso method (or any method), we want to take the entirety of the desired flavor offered by the coffee dose of the espresso.  A dose is the actual coffee in the portafilter.

In our next blog post, we consider the variables of extraction.

Barista Training Academy is the premiere online resource for learning basic barista skills. Want to be a barista? We offer an online barista training course (coming soon!)

Exploring Ways to Be a Barista


There is no right way to become a barista. The truth is that many great baristas arrive at their position or status from a wide array of choices.

You can blaze your own trail as well.  Whether you are an experienced coffee veteran or if you are simply exploring what a barista is, you have plenty of options.

Let me say this again: whether you are experienced or not, you have a variety of options waiting at your fingertips when it comes to being a barista. Why? Because if you look around coffee is all around us. People want coffee – and they want coffee served well.

Whether your goal is to own your own coffee shop one day or to help you pay your way through college, being a barista can provide good opportunities to learn and grow.

Learning how to make coffee requires the small – and yet profound decision: to get started. That’s right. Even if you know absolutely nothing about coffee or what being a barista is all about – you can get started today. Right now.


How to be a barista with no experience

We’ve spoken to many coffee shop managers about the subject of hiring those with little or no experience – and they often tell us that they often would prefer barista with little experience because many “experienced” and effective baristas can be more complicated to work with. That’s right. That’s because many baristas have learned – or trained poorly – and in order to serve coffee correctly, many experienced baristas have to often “unlearn” how they have been pulling espresso shots and start over, which can be more difficult to do. Therefore, sometimes having no experience is a blessing.

So what to coffee shop owners really want? What many coffee shop owners want is someone who is:

  • Trainable
  • Fits in with the culture of the coffee shop
  • Dependable
  • Honest
  • Willing to adapt
  • Looking for ways to save money and make the coffee shop better

But let’s be fair. Many coffee shop managers and espresso stand owners will want someone with at least some experience, right? Well, though it’s preferable, it not necessarily the biggest thing. In fact, having a positive attitude and personality that works for their business can surpass another much more experienced applicant.

Their concern for their baristas making coffee is based on three points:

  • Getting the coffee right
  • Keeping pace with the demand
  • Maintaining a high level of customer service

So, yes to adequately address the above points at a coffee shop it is helpful to have experience in serving coffee as a barista. But it is not completely necessary.  If you want to be a barista but you don’t have any experience – consider other areas of the service industry that may also be helpful to your job prospects: experience as a hostess, waiter, cook, fast food manager and retail associate.


If you don’t have any barista experience:

  • Learn as much as you can about coffee
  • Develop your passion for coffee blends
  • Get to know other baristas and coffee managers
  • Attend and learn barista “throw downs”
  • Attend coffee events that might be in your community
  • You may also become a waiter or waitress for a restaurant that serves espresso and learn how to become a barista over time.

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Ask yourself the tough questions, starting with:


Are you barista material?

If you’ve visited your local coffee shop and have seen that the baristas there are having lots of fun – you might be thinking, “Hey, I’d like to be a barista! Where do I sign up?!”

Certainly, being a barista can be a lot of fun and provide you an incredible way of making money in nearly every community – but is there any more to the job? The answer is yes! Being a barista requires you to be a professional at customer service as well as understand how to pull espresso shots – all with ability to work well under pressure.

Understanding coffee beans, various roasts, and pulling shots, you will also must be able to create an endless variety of drinks. Finally, providing each customer with great experience is also the job of a barista.

#1: Are you willing to get up early and display a positive and engaging attitude towards customers?

Baristas start their morning early – sometimes getting up as early as 4:00 am. Starting your day at say, 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning – for the morning rush hour, you will certainly need to be on your game – everyday. Perhaps, your job will ask you to be on the evening shift which may be a good option if you are not at your best in the morning. But trust me, you will be asked from time to time to cover a morning shift.


#2: Are you willing to learn a variety of coffee drinks – all the time?

Every customer is different. Every customer will have their favorite drink – and it may be one that you aren’t familiar with. Getting their drinks right – will be an important for you and your customer’s experience. Much of being a barista is experimentation. While coffee snobs might tell you exactly how coffee should be prepared, you need to be prepared to make the drinks that matter to your customers. Sometimes that means bending your idea of what is a good coffee drink, to what your customers value.


#3: Are you a “people’s person”?

Are you outgoing, chatty, and personable? If you don’t like talking or meeting new people, being a barista may not be the job for you to consider. Being a barista – at least in many coffee bars – will mean that you will need to use your social skills every day. If you are not the “social” type, then your job will be taxing on your soul. Don’t apply for the position if you don’t like talking to new people.

Customers come to coffee shops and cafes expecting to chit-chat with their baristas. If you are generally outgoing, chatty, friendly, and likeable – your personality will go a long way as a barista. Anyone can be trained pull shots and serve coffee. On the other hand, having the personality to fit the job is a qualitative quality that every customer loves.


#4: Do you have a flexible schedule?

Being a barista provides you with having a flexible schedule – so, daily schedules built around say, school or another job may be conducive to being a barista – but you will need to also work a variety of shifts. Working with your boss, owner, or manager to find the schedule that works for everyone will be important.


#5: Are you good in fast-paced situations?

As a barista, you will encounter some very busy times. Sometimes the line behind the counter can quickly add up with customers wanting a variety of drinks that can take more time than others. In addition, each customers may also want to order several drinks, so that line can be even “longer” when it comes to actual orders. Staying “cool” and confident under stressful times is necessary.


#6: Are you willing to handle the extra necessary stuff?

Working in coffee retail, you will also may be required to lift boxes of supplies, clean restrooms, take out the trash, sweep, wipe down tables, and do a number of other essential tasks. You might need to clean windows, run to get supplies, stock shelves, and maybe even roast coffee! Are you flexible enough to grow with the business?


#7: Are you able to minimize conflict and satisfy customer needs professionally?

Let’s be frank, some customers can be very difficult. Appropriately engaging with difficult customers in a professional manner that both resolves the issue and maintains a positive environment for other customers is essential. This kind of task may be difficult for some personalities. Consider whether you will be to “handle” such instances as they may arise from time to time.


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Your Barista Responsibilities will usually entail several key factors:

  • Successfully utilize and maintain an espresso machine and other brewing methods for each customer.
  • Preparing a variety of coffee drinks, beverages, and snacks for each customer.
  • Have the ability and wise judgment and willingness to make decisions.
  • Demonstrate the ability to maintain a positive work environment (this can be through your attitude, leadership, and motivation.)
  • Make sure the established policies and operation procedures are being followed.
  • You may be asked to mentor, coach, or train other employees.
  • You are to successfully ensure each transaction is correct, and monitor sales, labor, and any unnecessary waste.
  • Perform all “opening” or “closing” duties.
  • Maintain a certain dress code that is established by the business.
  • Complete other tasks and projects that have been assigned by a supervisor
  • Attend mandatory meetings.
  • Positively, and effectively engage with each customer, each co-worker, supervisor, manager, and owner.


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How Much to Baristas Make?

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How Much to Baristas Make?

In addition to having a flexible schedule baristas can make very good money on their shifts.

The purpose of this article is not to overstate the potentially high hourly wage for many baristas at independent coffee shops and cafes. Yet, we believe that we should also not underestimate a barista’s ability to make good money through their daily tips!

Here are the facts: Baristas often make minimum wage or close to minimum wage in many cities and states. Larger cities in progressive states often higher minimum wage laws. Aside from the federal minimum wage (currently at $7.25), states, and cities also have their own minimum wage. For example, at the time of this writing, in Seattle the minimum wage is $15, depending on the size of the company you work for.

How much a barista makes per hour, really depends on a number of very important factors that should not be overlooked. The first being what type of business is it? Is the barista working at a “big chain” coffee shop or an independent shop? Many big chains don't require or even make it possible for customers to tip on their credit card. Is tipping encouraged and promoted by signs. Is there a tip jar?

Now, to be fair, many bigger chains often offer other benefits like health care, paid time off, vacation, sick pay, etc. Independent coffee shops often do not have these benefits. However, many independent coffee shops and cafes realize that tips – or earning tips – are where their baristas make their much of their take home money and encourage tipping in various forms.

I think it's important for us to consider how much money you might – emphasis on the might – make if you were to be a barista.

For the sake of this article, let’s say that a barista:

Works a 6 hour shift
The café is in a medium to large city
Tipping is encouraged and expected
Patrons tip normal to above average (50%-90%) of the time.
The average tip is $1.00*
Some patrons will only tip left over change, while other customers will tip the left over change plus a $1 or $2 dollars.
A barista serving 20 people an hour and 16 of them tip the average of $1. On average, that’s $16 bucks an hour on tips alone. The busier the place, the better for your wallet, right? $16 + $8 per hour ($24 an hour)

Let’s say you work at a busier place where there are three baristas and you serve 75 coffees an hour – and the average tip of $1. (Some may not tip but others may tip $2 or more)

This, of course if all hypothetical. But let's try to do that math:

$75 of tips per hour divided by 3 baristas = $25 per hour. If you make $8 as a minimum wage, how much would you make?

The answer $33 an hour.
6 hours X $33 = $198 a shift. (Of course, taxes are not counted).

Still, the possibility of making nearly $200 a day before you head to your afternoon Sociology class in the afternoon is pretty impressive.

Again, of course these are simply hypothetical scenarios that illustrate the possibilities of what baristas can make.

Even if you make $150 a day prior to starting your school day or going home to take care of your family, that's a pretty good deal.
Do Baristas Get Certified?

There is no national certification that is required for being a barista. However, this doesn’t mean there are not state and local requirements for handling food and beverages. Nor does it mean that coffee shop owners wont look to see if you have the passion to study and learn fundamental barista skills.

While federal law may not generally impact the hiring of a barista (with an exception to age, ability, discrimination issues, etc.), baristas may or may not fall into a category of “food handler.” Some municipalities that are eager to promote healthy food handling require, if not strongly encourage some training or the passage of health exams. For example, King County in Seattle heavily encourage employees and employers to require a “food handler’s card.” Check with your local city, county or providence (if you are outside the U.S.).


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