Dish of the Day: Coffee Careers – How Baristas are the new bakers

Jeremy Torz
barista 300x209 Dish of the Day: Coffee Careers – How Baristas are the new bakers

(Getty Images)

Have you ever given a thought when waiting in line for your morning coffee what the person behind the bar is actually doing? Unlike with other food products, making coffee ‘Jamie style’ – chucking in a bit of this and that – just won’t cut it. This is where a well-trained barista should come in – someone who is able to extract the perfect elements from the coffee bean, steam milk to a beautiful creamy texture, and really care about what they do.

These are the steps they will go through to give you your morning cup:

Carefully roasted beans will be freshly ground (that’s the noisy bit). The coffee must be ground to a fineness that restricts the water’s passage through it, to allow all the flavours to be collected in the cup. The correct weight of ground coffee for the amount of water must be used in the espresso machine (this is normally 60g per litre) and the temperature and pressure of the machine must all be set correctly. These steps are all vital in getting the coffee to display sweet balanced flavours and avoid harsh and bitter tones.

For lattes, cappuccinos and the like there is an added technique – milk steaming (also noisy, baristas look for a ‘hissing’ sound). A steam wand is added to a jug of cold milk for around five to 10 seconds, depending on which drink they are making, as different different proportions of foam to milk will be required.

It is quite the work of art – for coffee roasters like myself we are entrusting the final quality of our coffee to these baristas so it is essential they are well trained. Australian and Kiwi baristas have been talked about a lot in recent years; there’s actually nothing special about their skills, but the cafe culture down under has a real focus on HOW coffee is made. Happily we are now training our own talent – there is even a Barista World Championship which has had two UK winners.

So now you know why the queue for excellent coffee can get so long. Good things come to those who wait.

Jeremy Torz is Co-Founder of Union Hand-Roasted Coffee and a self confessed Coffee Addict

Follow Jeremy at @unionroasted

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  • TheSplund

    Agreed, and I doubt if Illy is as good as what the Italians would prefer (many other brands seemed to prevail). At £6 a can it’s regarded as expensive but when you compare that against the price of a coffee in Costa it’s actually dirt-cheap!

    And people ought to be more aware that there’s only about 10p worth of coffee in a franchised shot of espresso.

  • adamsson66

    after they have finished all this endless faffing about why does it always taste of brown?

  • Hugh Snooze, U Lose


  • noughter

    Didn’t someone make a film about selling coffee?
    O what a lucky man he was!

  • Jeremy

    As a fluent Italian speaker I can assure you that Illy is regarded as the best of the brands, by a long way. Hence the price.

  • BartonStacey

    It’s just making coffee, not heart surgery!

  • pedrodelgardo

    What a load of pretentious bourgeois froth.

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