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Barista Basics - Articles

Effective Barista Training, Tea and Coffee Asia, first quarter 2006

Thursday, March 30, 2006


Appearing in Tea & Coffee Asia 1st quarter, 2006






Imagine walking into a hospital to have open-heart surgery and having a plumber perform the task or walking into a financial planner and getting a hairdresser to give you investment advice. You wouldn’t be too happy, would you? Yet thousands of café owners around the world have unqualified people driving their espresso machines and they still expect their operations to succeed. The location might be great, the fitout mind-blowing and the equipment brand new but without a properly trained barista you can forget about gourmet coffee and the profits that come with it. Professional barista trainers Matthew Gee and David Gee give us their views on effective barista training and what it should entail.

[1] Start on a Theoretical Level



Nobody should work behind an espresso machine without a full knowledge of how coffee is grown, harvested, roasted and blended. They should also know about the particular blend they are serving as customers will come up and ask from time to time about the coffee that is being served. They should have knowledge of the origin of the beans in the blend, whether there is a mixture of arabica and robusta beans in that blend and what degree of roast the blend is. This type of blend-specific information can be obtained from your coffee supplier but the underlying information of how and why coffee is blended can really only be conveyed by effective barista training.

We’ve spoken to some so-called "baristas" who swear that their beans are grown in Italy (coffee cannot grow in Italy as it is too cold), some who think that coffee beans grow in the ground (they don’t, they are the seeds within a cherry that grows on a tree) and that all coffee beans roast for the same amount of time (they don’t – it depends on their size, moisture content, hardness and density). The information they therefore give their customers is completely without foundation in fact.

Apart from all of this background information about coffee being interesting, it surely must be regarded as essential information for the passionate barista who wants to know everything about the product they serve.


Effective milk texturing is one of the most important aspects of coffee-making. If you cannot get the milk right, you cannot pour nicely presented coffees, the coffees will not taste good and creating latte art will be an impossibility.

One of the key areas of focus in good barista training is the creation of smooth, silky, creamy milk (milk that has thousands of densely-packed bubbles that are almost invisible to the naked eye). The froth should "hold" in place without deflating or imploding.

The three main areas that need to be focused on are:

[1] Temperature – how using a thermometer will help the barista to achieve the correct temperature in their milk every time (65 degrees C/150 degrees F).

[2] Swirling – how obtaining and maintaining a circular motion of the milk in the jug at all times is vital in creating highly-textured, velvet-like milk.

[3] Stretching – what you need to do to "stretch" the milk to obtain more creaminess. Listening out for the right "hissing" sound is vital in helping students hone their stretching skill.

Most people making coffee who have not had effective barista training produce old-fashioned, dry, aerated "fresh.


[2] Get Technical


Milk Texturing


Effective Barista Training, Tea and Coffee Asia, first quarter 2006
Coffee The Australian Way, Tea and Coffee Asia, fourth quarter 2005
In the End, It's All in the Blend, Bean Scene, Issue 10, 2005
Tools of the Trade, Bean Scene, Issue 10, 2005
The Starters Guide To Coffee, Bean Scene, Issue 9, 2005
Cutting Edge Espresso - Bean Scene Magazine, Issue 8, 2005
Postcards from Seattle - Bean Scene Magazine, Issue 8, 2005
Making Great Coffee At Home - Loreal's Club Matrix Magazine, Issue 2, 2004
Buying a Home Espresso Machine - Loreal's Club Matrix Magazine, Issue 3, 2005
Australians v Italians: Who Makes Better Coffee? - Bean Scene Magazine, Issue 6, 2004
The Decline of Tea and the Dethroning of the Flat White - Bean Scene Magazine, Issue 7, 2005
Coffee Indulgence - Loreals' Club Matrix Magazine, Issue 4, 2005
Coffee Appreciation
How to be a Gun Barista - Bean Scene, Issue 5, 2004
Affogato with a twist of Mocha - Australian Table, May 2004
Hygiene in the Café Environment - Bean Scene, Issue 3, 2004
Grind It, Baby - Eat Drink Magazine, May 2004
Coffee Myths, Dispelled!, Bean Scene, Issue 4, 2004
Coffee Art - Eatdrink Magazine, June 2004
Questions: Hospitality Magazine, May 2004


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