The life of a barista may not seem that exotic on the outside. They’re just the people who make your custom coffee order, right? Believe it or not, there’s more that goes into being a barista than meets the eye. Most days, it takes a little bit of science and a whole lot of passion to complete the perfect coffee order.
Lucky for you, here at The Roasterie, we are happy to provide you with the secrets that many coffee baristas hold near and dear to their hearts. We want to welcome you into the secret world of coffee baristas with these 10 shocking coffee barista facts:
1. Thirty years ago, no one knew what a coffee barista was
The coffee barista profession is a fairly new one. In fact, coffee baristas did not exist 30 years ago. That’s pretty impressive considering there are now 50,000 coffee shops in the United States, posting $18 billion in annual sales. But purchasing cups of coffee out of the home did not become popular until 1982.
2. Coffee baristas aren’t slackers and hipsters
We all know the coffee barista stereotype: wears a beanie, sports thick-rimmed glasses and maybe even some dreadlocks. But not all coffee baristas are the hipster slackers that society paints them to be. In fact, most coffee baristas are college graduates who decided on coffee-concocting as a full-time career (not a part-time job!). The reason why these people become baristas? It’s simple—they’re passionate about the product!
3. It takes a long time to perfect that latte art
Society is infatuated with latte art—something that coffee baristas are oh so good at! And anything as beautiful as a four leaf clover on top of your morning latte obviously takes a long time to learn. Most baristas perfect latte art in about 4 months. That’s a lot of practice!
4. They can “decaf” you!
Watch out! Some coffee shop baristas have been known to “decaf” customers if they’re rude or have a history of not tipping! Although none of our Roasterie baristas have ever “decaffed” a customer, this practice is seen at many chain coffee shops. Yikes!
5. They prefer different techniques
…especially when it comes to tamping! Every coffee barista has their own special tamping technique whether it be “the level”, “the lean” or “the smack”. Either way, almost all baristas are required to put about 30 pounds of pressure on a tamper when making an espresso. This takes a whole lot of muscle memory!
6. Steaming the milk (it’s a science!)
What’s the loud noise you often hear when sitting in the coffee shop? Usually, it’s the milk being steamed! But why do baristas steam the milk instead of nuke it in the microwave for 30 seconds? As a matter of fact, there is a lot of science that goes into steaming milk. For starters, steaming milk makes it sweeter and frothy. But there’s a lot more to it than that…and baristas know all of the science behind it! It has to do with sugars, fats, proteins, lactose and specific temperatures. Learn more about why baristas steam the milk here.
7. Baristas compete in coffee competitions
There seems to be a competition for everything these days—including coffee! Your local barista may be a national champion in latte art, a winner of espresso making, a cappuccino connoisseur or could even be the reigning champion of the United States Barista Championship! Ask them—they won’t be shy to tell you!
8. Some attend barista school
Before entering a competition, many coffee baristas attend barista school. These (usually) 6-month programs teach students how to select beans, grind beans and pour all different types of coffee concoctions. Some students go to coffee barista school to start their own coffee shops and become coffee entrepreneurs—how ambitious!
9. Not all coffee language is universal
Just because you use the term “venti” in a Starbucks when ordering a large coffee, the same is not true when you order at other coffee shops. In fact, many specialty coffee baristas may not know what you’re talking about when your order a venti mocha Frappuccino. Take time to look at the particular coffee shop’s menu before you order and know the lingo!
10. They’re the experts!
Your coffee barista isn’t just your morning coffee maker—he or she is also a coffee expert! Not sure what to order? Don’t just guess! Ask your barista what they recommend or what their drink of choice is. A good coffee barista will always be able to provide you the difference between an Americano and a latte; a cappuccino and a mocha. Just ask!