Curiosity is one of the great secrets to happiness.
As true to the mentioned quote above, we’ve seen a rise in the numbers of “home barista’s” lately due to the COVID – 19 effect. Strict movement control law / rules are being implemented all around the globe but that doesn’t stop the common people from getting their caffeine fixed, some opt to support their local cafes by buying coffee through take-away/delivery platforms. While some others, choose to support their local coffee roastery by buying coffee beans to brew own-self at home. The only challenge of brewing your own coffee at home, is that one has to understand the many variables that will directly and indirectly affect your coffee outcome, and so these home brewers begin the journey of searching information through online platforms i.e. Google, Facebook Home Brewing Groups and even talk to their respective coffee roasters. This spiral journey down the rabbit hole soon spark many interests to the possibility of is it possible for one to build a career behind the coffee bar.
The answer is YES! Thus I decided to list out 5 baby steps that you can implement to become a barista behind a coffee bar base on my young journey starting from nowhere to where I am now, a barista of Ghostbird Coffee Roasters.
Let’s begin! To get Your barista journey started, the first & most crucial thing we need to have is the ‘passion for coffee’. We need to love coffee from the bottom of our heart, regardless what kind of coffee it is, be light roasted coffee or dark roasted coffee, be serving an espresso or serving a well brewed filter coffee. The main goal, is to love coffee for coffee. With this motto in mind, no matter how hard the journey is in the future, as everyone knows how tough F&B industry can really be. We can get through it by focusing on our main goal – and that is coffee.
Secondly, we need to be willing to learn and be trained. Not only about coffee knowledge, but everything in the cafe. With all things awesome it will always begin from humble beginnings, before one can actually become a barista, we wouldn’t be immediately put on bar shift. Instead, we might be a service crew first, learning about the service stuff, knowing all menu and bar items. Meanwhile, we will get trained about some basic coffee knowledge, which includes the theory of coffee, milk, machine. Slowly we will get trained inside the bar by fellow senior baristas. By then we will need to put in lots of effort to train hard for coffee bar practical skills. For example, how to do a proper coffee distribution and coffee tamping, how to froth the milk with an espresso machine, and how to do milk mixing in the cup and pouring an intricate latte art.
By not skipping any basic step, we get trained behind the coffee bar from the very beginning on all things related to customer service. *Fun fact – The word Barista actually derives from the word – Bartender, being a barista BAR + RISTA means you have the honor and privilege to entice every patron into the beautiful world of coffee. To make someone’s day by crafting a tasty cuppa together with lovely customer service standards that speaks to every heart, soul & mind of coffee lovers. For myself, I get trained under the guidance of a senior. I spent a few days only training on tamping, a few days learning to froth the milk by mixing water and soap, and training to pour a heart shape latte art at the beginning until I can make a perfect heart shape. This practical training takes time, but the harder we train for it, the shorter the time we can make a perfect cuppa.
Thirdly, we need to be disciplined. During the journey to get trained to become a barista, we need to get trained in our smell and taste sensory. By having the skill & ability to smell and taste coffee well, it allows us to be more focus and accommodate to customer needs & preferences. Everybody has different expectations of what coffee is and can be, and thus meeting those needs with professionalism has become the standard of a competent barista skill one has to possess. Bear in mind that spicy food/flavours will affect our tasting experience, so we shouldn’t have any spicy food before we proceed our daily coffee calibration. Also, be disciplined to follow all the SOP within the bar and cafe.
Fourth, we need to have open communication skills. I still remember a senior who told me before, “barista is not only pouring a latte art, instead we are pouring happiness into people’s life”. For me, coffee is a bridge that connects people to people, or a bridge that links people to happiness. By serving a cuppa, we can get to know more people around the world by sharing about coffee knowledge or experience with each other. Also, the customer will get happy and satisfied when we make them a good cup of coffee. It’s not only communicate with the customer, but also the coffee as well. This is because actually the mood or situation of the barista does affect the coffee. Let’s say if a barista who always has a bad or down mood while making coffee, the coffee might not as yummy as compared with a barista who always stay positive, keep smiling with happy mood. So, just being positive and happy while enjoying what we are doing. This positive could influence the environment through a cup of coffee.
Lastly, the final steps that you need to have to begin your barista journey is we need to have team spirit. Not only within the bar department, but also the other departments like cashier, pastry and service. On my road to become a barista, I am very grateful to have a group of team mate with a very good teamwork. We are not only working at our own department, instead we can cross over from cashier, service, bar, waffle till even kitchen, and help each other automatically without saying a word. By having a team spirit, we are able to cover each other when an incident happens or during peak hour to make sure that the business is running smoothly.
As a barista, we are not only about pouring a latteart. Instead, we are pouring happiness into people's life. As a barista, we are not only working inside the bar. Instead, we are working as a team within the whole cafe.
We come together, grow together, achieve together!!!
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