The Barista job is getting more and more popular. Everybody wants to be a Barista nowadays. Not just because it sounds cool and looks good on your Instagram profile, but also because coffee as a product becomes more popular. Next to that it’s a good skill to have when you would like to go to Australia or New-Zealand with a working-holiday visa. What I have learned during the years as a Barista is that there are still misconceptions about the job and not as appreciated as it should be.
After 7 years of making coffee, working behind the bar and facing many customers, I started to realize there are still lots of misconceptions around the Barista job. I know people say there are no stupid questions, but pardon me for saying this but there are. Some questions you don’t ask, because they are rude. And some questions you won’t ask, because you first have to think or dive in deeper in the subject. Some misconceptions came from my experience, and some I got from my coffee friends on Instagram. Thanks all for helping me writing this post!
When you “make” coffee you are a Barista
Like I said the Barista job is getting more and more popular. Which also makes that people like to put it on their CV or in their Instagram bio. I think this misconception frustrated me the most. As I worked for like a year as a freelance Barista in The Netherlands, mostly for the platform Temper, I’ve met many “Baristas”. I saw many destroyed coffee machines, wrong temping, horrible overheated milk and bad extractions. Me asking how long they already work as a Barista. Some just made coffee at a restaurant, called themselves Barista and wanted to dive in deeper in the job, some just did a one-day course. The only thing I have to say is please don’t put on your curriculum that you are a Barista if you made coffee at a bar of a restaurant. It’s not fair for the well-trained Baristas in the world. Do your study, get your practice, and be honest with the Barista level you have.
The Barista job is a part-time and/or jus a side job
There are countries where Baristas are the king of the world, the rockstar in the hospitality, ‘top of the food chain’. And even the Barista job is getting more appreciated and because of social media everybody gets a better understanding how profound the job actually is. Still there is a lack of understanding that being a Barista could be a fulltime and passionated job. During my Barista life, and especially in the beginning, I got many questions from customers if I was still studying, how many hours I was working and what else I do. When I said this was my fulltime job I could see the pity and incomprehension in their face expression. Isn’t that ridiculous. Like I would ask someone who works in Finance if that’s what they do for a living. Wouldn’t that be the invented world. Baristas let’s try this if you get this stupid question from a customer!
Baristas drink like 10 coffees a day
Baristas are always high on caffeine and drink at least 10 coffees a day. How many times I got the question or maybe more like an observation like ‘you probably drink coffee the whole day’ or ‘you probably drink a lot of coffee’. They already had the misconception in their mind. So when I told my customers that I am actually very sensitive to caffeine they were shocked and asked me why I work as a Barista and how I do the job? Like you eat cookies all day working as a Baker or drink cocktails as a Bartender right? But yes I do love coffee and I love sipping espressos. I asked many of my fellow Baristas around the world and many of them are keeping it easy on the caffeine during their work day. Because being all shaky, anxious and not able to concentrate while high on caffeine doesn’t make it easier to make a pour over or a perfect rosetta.
Baristas must be bored making coffee all day
One of the most silly misconceptions I think. Customers asking you if you don’t get bored making coffee all day. Doing the same thing all day. First of all you don’t have a clue what else comes with the Barista job. Second I get bored getting these questions all the time. It’s a job and you do a job because you love the job, just like you.
Baristas don’t drink milk-based coffee
Baristas like their coffee pure, strong and black. Did you hear that before? I didn’t know about this misconception until my fellow Barista blogger The Way To Coffee asked me if Baristas think less of her because she drinks milk-based coffees. It triggered me and I wrote a column about this if cappuccino-drinkers have less coffee knowledge. It made me dive in the coffee habits of Baristas and understood that many Baristas mix up their daily coffee consumption. Having a filter, an espresso and a flat white for example. Same for me I always started with espressos when setting the grinders and would have a milk-based coffee later on. And I think it’s good to mix it up so you always know what you are serving your customer. Even now I don’t work as a Barista anymore (although the Barista is still inside me) I drink more (plant)milk-based coffee, because my caffeine tolerance is increasing unfortunately.
I especially loved sipping (Australian) lattes while I was there. I wrote a blogpost about The Australian Specialty Coffee Menu where I explain the difference between European and Aussie lattes.
All a Barista do is heat up milk and that is not so difficult
With the introduction of social media and exploding coffee accounts people start to realize that latte art is quite an art. They know that those ‘figures’ or ‘drawings’ in the milk are not so easy to make, but many still don’t know that the way of heating up the milk does the real milk. I always told my students that with shitty milk you can’t draw. And making textured milk isn’t that easy. It’s not just heating it up. There is a real technique behind it and takes a lot of practice to get the velvety textured milk with the right temperature and amount of foam.
If a Barista can do pretty latte art, he/she a good Barista
There are Baristas that just practice latte art, because it’s fun and it looks good. But you know what they say: ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. Saying don’t judge the barista by its art. I made that mistake back in the days. Ordering a cappuccino. Got a beautiful rosetta and then spit it out, because it was over-extracted. Bummer! Being a good Barista means that you have the knowledge and skills about specialty coffee from seed to cup.