Online Barista Training: Another Look at Espresso

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A Discussion on Topics Important For Your Online Barista Training

Even if you have only recently been introduced to the world of coffee, you would have certainly have heard of espresso. In today’s coffee world, it is synonymous with coffee. But what is it?

Whether you work in a small cafe, chain coffee shop, or a coffee stand, you will want to be familiar with the elements of espresso.

A “shot” of espresso is generally referred to as the amount of coffee beverage that comes from an espresso machine. A “shot” isn’t a technical term nor does it have a predefined amount of mass or volume. A shot can be different to every coffee business or barista.

Therefore, it’s important to realize that a “shot” of espresso is arbitrary. However, there is a general guideline that many people have that defines a suitable range for a typical espresso shot.

A general espresso template or definition:

Espresso is created by the pressurized percolation of hot water that flows through a tight puck of ground coffee. The water extracts or removes the solids and oils from the expanded surface of the grounded coffee.

An espresso shot has a range of 6 grams to 21 grams (approximately) of dry ground coffee. It is extracted via 7-9 bars of pressure in the espresso machine.

Typically, the extraction time is between 20 to 35 seconds.

The water used to extract the coffee falls between 185 degrees and 205 degrees. (85° C – 96° C)

Again, this is a general espresso template. Deviations – though are relevant – they are to be expected as everyone like espresso done in a manner that is suitable for them.

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Barista Fundamentals

You’ve just read the word, “extraction”. What is extraction? To put it simply, extraction is the removal of mass from through the coffee grounds. This mass is made up of soluble and insoluble substances.  Soluble solids add to what we taste and the brew strength, while the soluble gasses add to what we smell or the aroma of coffee.

When we are talking about drip coffee (that you might brew at home, for example) insolubles are solids and oils that are essentially floating or suspended in the water molecules.

When it comes to using the espresso machine, insoluble are held in suspension or they are emulsified.  That is, they are the smallest drops of oils that are surrounded by liquid. These also contribute to the taste, aroma, taste, and the body of the coffee itself.

When you “pull” a shot, you will notice some bubbling foam or what we refer as “crema”. Crema is an important part of the shot. It is really made up of CO2 gas (Carbon Dioxide) and water bubbles that are encased in a film.  The appearance of crème is only made possible by the amount of pressure that comes with brewing it via an espresso machine.

When geeking out about crema, you might here the term “surfactant” which essentially is a substance that reduces the surface tension of a liquid. They encase the bubbles caused by the espresso machine creating a foam. It may be possible to gain useful information from the crema and gauge the strength of the drink. It is after all a part of the same drink. The lighter color is brought out by the bubbles and the refraction of light from the space the bubbles create.

Crema doesn’t necessarily taste pleasant by itself, but it takes on an important role in how it feels on the tongue.

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So, what’s the role of a barista?

The role in the barista is to take the coffee and consistently create a shot of espresso that tastes ideal. This first starts with understanding the type of coffee (its origin and roast). It also means choosing the right grind that allows you to generate the “right” amount of flow (that is, the rate at which the water fills the portafilter basket and streams out onto your shot glass).

The job of the barista is to not only ensure that a proper dose of coffee is used, the right grind size, but also that it is evenly or uniformly distributed within the basket. This is done through “tamping” with a tamper.

Additionally, much of the extraction is done through pressurized water.  But the water has to be hot and at a particular temperature.


Barista Training Academy is your online barista training resource. Our aim is to provide you with the information you need to start your career in coffee.