How to Become an Effective Barista

"I'd like a grande in a venti half-caf nonfat no foam with whip extra hot caramel drizzle latte". You hear that in the middle of a morning rush, but can you remember every little detail? As a beginner, it's not that simple. There's countless ways of making coffee and other latte drinks - being an effective barista takes time, practice, and a shot of creativity.


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    Listen to each step as is. It's easy to remember a drink if you repeat the exact or similar way they said it. As you repeat it to yourself, retrieve the cup needed (so you know what size), start the number of espresso shots required for the specific drink and as the shots are pouring, steam the milk. Finally, add any necessary items to complete the drink.
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    Write the drink down if needed. Use codes or circle the letters on top of the cup cover. Have a system that is comfortable for you or that other baristas working with you know what they are. You might not want to write the entire thing during a rush or if you have a line, especially if the drink is complicated or detailed.
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    Be comfortable! When items or details get altered, you may have to restart. If a person wants a hot drink, but you accidentally create a cold one, don't worry! Just apologize and make a new one. It happens to everyone! Take your time! It's better to get a drink right than have a customer come back unhappy/disappointed.
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    Use cheat-sheets. Progress by looking at them every so often or when necessary, until you feel confident to make drinks without the help.


  • A breve is using "half and half" milk and a skinny or non-fat coffee is using fat free or skim milk.
  • A cappuccino is a very small amount of milk and lots of foam, while a latte has milk and foam. Do not stir either drink - just let the foam form and fluff up on the top.
  • There are also the amount of espresso shots to listen for. Single is one, double is two, triple is three, and quad is four.
  • Always ask if they want room for cream for orders of brewed coffee -- never assume.
  • As you progress or know what you're doing, you'll be able to pull shots and steam milk at the same time, have the ability to make two customers' orders at the same time, or remember people's orders.
  • Always match the temperatures with drinks. Anything iced or blended, must be made with cold items (for example cold milk) and anything hot should be made with hot items (for example, steamed milk or hot water).


  • For iced espresso drinks don't pour the espresso directly over the ice (it will shock the espresso and make it bitter), slowly add the cold milk and then finally the ice. Usually if the customer requests just the espresso and no milk over ice then it is fine to just pour the espresso let it cool some and then add ice.
  • Watch what you're doing and don't always trust your instincts. Anything over 160 °F (71 °C) will scorch the person's mouth. Just remember, even if the spout is out, the milk or liquid can rise an additional 5 to 15 degrees.

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Categories: Coffee