3 Misconceptions about Working as a Barista

Coffee shops are a dime a dozen in Manila. As a matter of fact, Starbucks alone has 164 outlets nationwide. Notwithstanding other coffee shops like Costa, Toby’s Estate, and other specialty coffee shops.

Essentially, people go to coffee shops to study, conduct meetings, catch-up with friends, or just simply find serenity. Either way, we visit coffee shops for the unique coffee experience and the ambiance.

Toby's Estate Melbourne Makati

I love Toby’s Estate. I love their Baristas. I just hope they would offer Wi-Fi soon, so it’s online worker-friendly! Haha. Nevertheless, Toby’s is my favorite coffee shop.

For the past two weeks, I spent my days working at a coffee shop and I came across a scenario between a barista and a customer. Honestly, I felt bad for the barista as the customer literally said: “taga gawa ka lang ng kape.” (All you do is make coffee).

Toby's Estate Melbourne Makati

I’m wondering if she knew how to do latte art or even pull an ideal espresso shot?

Anyhow, people would usually think that working as a barista is similar to making instant coffee. Hell, NO.

In fact, after my appreciation coffee class, the more I value our baristas now. Why? Because it’s not easy to drink 7 espresso shots and determine which one’s the ideal one!

coffee jitters

(Photo credit: Lumosandwired/Tumblr)

Joking aside, there’s more than just pouring or yelling your name on the counter.  So, what are these common misconceptions?  Let us start reading them, shall we?

 3 Misconceptions about Working as a Barista

3. Most Baristas don’t look good

So, what? Good looks got nothing to do with pulling a perfect espresso or making cappuccino. But, if you would let me debunk that misconception, I would happily oblige. Wait, check them out. :)

misconceptions about barista

Meet Andy (left) and CJ (right) of Toby’s Estate. They are the good-looking baristas of Toby’s Whitespace branch. By the way, Andy was one of the finalists of the first Philippine National Latte Art Championship. CJ, on the other hand, is one of the handsome roasters of Toby’s Whitespace branch. 

yrrej_galang

Here’s another one from Seattle’s Best. His picture originally appeared on Cosmo as one of the good-looking baristas in the Philippines.

2. Baristas don’t have to do paperwork

barista misconceptions 2

Photo credit: shutterstock.com

Just when you thought they just pull, pour, and call out your name, you thought wrong. Baristas have to do some paperwork too. I had a real talk with another Barista and she shared that these documents are vital to their shop. In fact at Starbucks, ALL baristas, including Managers, have the 1-hour rotation deployment. This means they need to do all the tasks in the operations like maintenance, cashier, and reports. Furthermore, these documents are essential to maintaining the quality of their machines, prevent pests at the store, and more!

1. People think Baristas don’t have other skills than making coffee

Besides the beautiful latte art you take pictures of and share on your Instagram account, Baristas are also a jack of all trades. They study about different kinds of coffee beans, its culture, religiously. The spontaneity of their knowledge about pulling a perfect espresso shot must be present at all times. Otherwise, the credibility of their brand is at stake.

coffee beans

Do you know how an ideal espresso shot tastes like? I don’t claim to know it all but I’m happy to share with you what I’ve learned during my appreciation class with the coffee masters last week. To be honest, I never knew that pulling a perfect shot requires an extensive food tasting skill! And, that an ideal espresso shot is a vital reason to come up with a delightful cappuccino and other blends.

ideal espress shot

So, our coffee master pulled 7 espresso shots. One of which was the ideal one and we must determine it by tasting each one of them. Kamusta naman, diba?! If you are used to drinking brewed coffee or instant like me, you’d develop coffee jitters! hahaha

coffee gitters

That’s me after the nth time tasting and determining the ideal shot! 

What’s an ideal shot, you may ask? According to our coffee master, there are four techniques you should consider with pulling an espresso shot:

  • Grind – the beans must be fresh and not stale. The texture must be close enough to granulated sugar.
  • Dose – should be measured depending on the limit of the porta basket 18 up to 30 grams.
  • Tamp – there’s also a technique on tamping. According to an article published by seattlecoffeegear.com, you must hold your elbow at 90 degrees, rest your portafilter on a level surface and then apply 30 lbs of pressure until the coffee has an even and polished look.
  • Extraction – the vital ingredient is to watch your clock while pouring. If you stop the pouring earlier than the desired time it would taste acidic, salty, and way too bitter. The extracts within 24-30 sec. in 30ml – 25ml. Depending on your espresso machine, the proper dose for a double shot should be between 14 – 18 grams.

barista tamping

Tamping is also known as a “consistency game.” (Photo credit: freshcup.com)

Ideally, while they are knowledgeable in different kinds of coffee beans, they also need to undergo several seminars and training to improve everyone’s coffee experience. “Akala nila pag barista, barista lang na we make coffee, NO po. We study and review a loooooooooooot po,” confesses a Starbucks barista.

Similar to any jobs, Baristas go through the intensive training and tests, as well. Besides the nerve-wracking set of interviews, they need to do the following:

  • Coffee appreciation class – this includes the culture, different kinds of beans, meaning of first, second, and third wave in the coffee industry, and more.
  • Learn how to perfectly roast coffee beans
  • Familiarization of the store’s guidelines and policies.
  • Certifications and more!

In the word of Mike, Toby’s Estate’s senior barista, “being a barista is not just pulling a perfect espresso shot nor entice you with our marvelous latte art. It’s all about honoring and growing with our customers. We pull extra effort in every cup we make to make you feel blissful.”

latte art

Photo credit:drinks.seriouseats.com

In a succinct manner, baristas have a lot of things to offer other than making you a cuppa. They must have great communication and impeccable customer service skills.

Being a barista requires great attitude and determination. And, without them, we wouldn’t truly unveil the true characteristics of “good” coffee.

So, to my barista friends out there, what is the funniest misconception that you’ve ever experienced?  Let’s talk about them by leaving a comment below!






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