Coffee 101: Barista tips for beginners

A barista’s position in a cafĂ© is highly sought after due to the job’s prestige and good pay, but it also presents real challenges. It can be daunting to enter this profession because of the competition and the steep learning curve that greet newcomers. That is why if you dream of becoming a good barista, you must do the work and train for it.

To help you get started, South Philly Barbacoa gives you these beginner tips:

Learn to make microfoam

Microfoam is a subset of frothed milk foam produced by frothing very cold milk with the steam wand’s tip hovering just below the milk’s surface. The barista will heat the milk further using the steam wand after generating the foam. 

Aside from its superior texture, microfoam also produces a gorgeous latte art. To start, make sure that the milk and the pitcher used to hold the foam must be chilled before frothing can begin. The foaming process will expand the container, so fill it no more than two-thirds full with cold milk. 

Warm the cups

If you want to make your espresso drink more appetising, try warming the glasses first. The cup not only keeps the beverage hotter for longer, but it also improves the overall drinking experience. You can either use the steam wand to heat the cup or fill it with hot water before serving. When preparing espresso, hot cups are essential. 

Learn to tamp

If baristas tamp with a firm wrist and arm, they can aid the coffee-making process. Brewing coffee with more taste is made possible by tamping the ground coffee into the portafilter to create a uniform density and surface. To do this, you need to apply gentle pressure until an even puck forms, then knuckle down and work it into a solid puck. 

Grind well

Creating a delicious cup of coffee and extracting the most flavour from each cup requires grinding coffee beans into uniform, fine particles, which can only be done with a professional grinder. When you need a fine grind, only a commercial grinder will do. To start, pulse the grinder for three to five seconds at a time on a medium to high setting. You need to keep pulsing until you achieve a smooth surface.

Go slow

Learning how to make a perfect latte takes practice. At the beginning of your barista career, it is recommended that you settle on a single latte art style that you feel comfortable with and master before moving on to more complex designs. 

When learning the basics of latte art, many people choose to practise with a heart because it’s easy to recognise and adapt to. No one expects a first-timer to master latte art perfectly, but it’s still awe-inspiring to see the effort. 

Keep your tools close

Your coffee making tools should remain close to your brewing machines. Everything from the tamper to the cups, to the scales to the grinder, is considered utensils. Improve your productivity by having your coffee tools close to where you work. Create a coffee station that places all of these items within reach and no more than a few steps away from the main coffee machine.

Work clean

It is crucial to clean the coffee maker every day, if not more than once. You should still clean the area every day, even if you only make one or two shots. As the clutter builds up, you’ll end up with more to do. For example, a busy barista should clean their espresso machine many times daily. You can start by giving the machine a thorough cleaning after the morning rush and before the evening rush.

Do you need more barista tips and guides? Learn more about how to be an efficient barista and the best ways to make coffee at South Philly Barbacoa.

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