Six Things You Didn't Know About Baristas

Six Things You Didn't Know About Baristas

Barista Facts - Working in a Coffee Shop

Written By: Caighlen Brady

Baristas are the experts behind the bar. They make custom drinks and build a community around coffee. Believe it or not, there are a lot of behind the scenes things you may not notice when visiting a coffee shop. It also takes passion and dedication to be a barista. Here are six things you didn't know about coffee baristas. 

History of a Barista

Being a barista seems like the new trend people are following today. Actually, the coffee barista profession didn’t exist 30 years ago.
In Italy, bartenders were not only limited to serve alcohol but also coffee drinks. The Italian word for bartender was borrowed from English and the word barista was born!

Today there are over 50,000 coffee shops in the United States alone. Although it wasn’t common to find coffee shops up until the 1980’s.


We all know the stereotypical barista that is portrayed in media. When you think of a barista some characteristics like a hipster wearing a beanie, or a part-time college student come to mind.

But not every barista is a worker at Starbucks. In fact, most coffee baristas pursue coffee as a full-time career.

There are coffee classes where you can learn how to become a professional barista. Most people who are in coffee do it because they are passionate about coffee!

Espresso Machine - Pulling Shots and Steaming Milk

There is a science behind making a perfect latte. A barista has to pull a decent timed shot, and steam the milk to the right texture to pour latte art! If the milk is steamed incorrectly, it can lead to a burnt taste instead of sweet and frothy.
Pulling shot involves tamping pressure. Each barista uses different techniques when making an espresso. Either way, about 30 pounds of pressure has to be applied when tamping.

Baristas are not perfect when learning for the first time. P
racticing and muscle memory will help baristas master the espresso machine.

Latte Art

When going to a coffee shop, part of the experience is seeing beautiful latte art. Baristas are good at it and it adds a unique touch to the drink!

What most people don’t know is latte art is a skill that takes a lot of practice.

Most baristas can do hearts, rosettas and simple patterns.
Baristas practice years to learn new and complex designs.

Coffee and Latte Art Competitions

There are many coffee and latte art competitions. Specialty coffee businesses and baristas gather around to compete.

These competitions are famous in the coffee industry and hosts all over the world. At the competitions, coffee companies come together to trade and commute.
They go head to head in tasting coffee and pouring milk. A barista can win the title of national champion latte art or espresso making. This is a great way to make connections with other coffee experts!

Coffee Language

There is a certain language barista use to talk to each other about coffee related topics. I am not referring to ordering Starbucks “venti vanilla frappuccino” at a specialty coffee shop. Results will be the barista looking blank at you.

In a coffee shop, baristas are the expert! They have a broad knowledge about coffee. Baristas are able to evaluate different profiles in coffee. They are open to answering any questions you have about coffee.

A good barista will be able to provide the differences between coffee origins, latte, americano and cortado. Don’t be afraid to ask!