Posted in Kafevend Blog
Unsurprisingly, the word barista has its origin in Italy, the home of the espresso. However, a barista in Italy is a bartender, serving alcoholic beverages as well as coffee and other hot drinks. The rest of the world took the term and used it more specifically as a result of the growing passion for a wide range of espresso based coffee drinks that required someone with skill to deliver.
A typical barista has a number of roles to fill ranging from the artistic down to the mundane. They will, of course, have to operate the espresso machine and develop the skill to pull the perfect shot of espresso. This involves grinding the beans to the right consistency, measuring out the correct amount and then there's the business of tapping and levelling - all that banging about in a very focussed way that mystifies me whenever I go out for a coffee. They will have acquired an in depth knowledge of all the drinks and their myriad variations and have the patience and expertise to guide unsure customers in acquiring the best drink for them. In addition there's the everyday cleaning of equipment and tables, monitoring of stock levels, health and safety regulations to comply with and the stress of the long queue impatient for their caffeine hit! Baristas can indulge their creative side when producing art in the foam of a latte. Artwork that holds well is a measure of how well the drink has been prepared, demonstrating good technical skill too.
Those with a real passion for their profession can go on to compete at national and international championships. The 2013 World Barista Championship is being held currently in Melbourne, Australia.