The term “barista” is typically used to describe someone who prepares gourmet coffee beverages — from cappuccinos and caffè lattes to caffè mochas. There is definitely an art to being a skillful barista, just as there is an art to being a skillful bartender or chef. And some coffee lovers assume that coffee beverages made at home cannot measure up to what they get at their favorite coffee house. But in fact, becoming a skillful home barista is quite doable with the right equipment.
Here are some essential tools for becoming a top-notch home barista.
Brewer (Coffee Maker)
There are a wide variety of options when it comes to purchasing a brewer or coffee maker for home use, some more expensive than others. The most important thing for a home barista is to find something that is dependable and user-friendly and to use it correctly.
For the full home barista experience, shop the EspressoWorks 7-Piece or10-Piece Espresso & Cappuccino Maker
There is a reason why so many outlets sell whole-bean coffee: many home baristas avoid purchasing pre-ground coffee, preferring to grind the beans themselves — as the coffee maintains its freshness that way. And a home barista who purchases whole-bean coffee is going to need a reliable bean grinder.
There are two main types of bean grinders: a blade grinder and a burr grinder, which crushes coffee beans between two surfaces. Some baristas much prefer burr grinders, stressing that they offer a more even grind and therefore, promote better-tasting coffee.
A skillful home barista knows the importance of getting the milk and water to the right temperature, which can mean the difference between a great cup of coffee and a disappointing cup of coffee — and using a waterproof digital thermometer can ensure that the milk and water reach the temperature they need to. The water’s temperature, ideally, should be between 195 Fahrenheit/90 Celsius and 205 Fahrenheit/96 Celsius.
Accurately measure the temperature to make your perfect cup with the EspressoWorks Milk and Coffee Thermometer with Clip
Digital Kitchen Scale
A kitchen scale enables a home barista to make sure that the correct amount of coffee is used. Doing so not only improves the flavor and quality of the coffee that is brewed, but also, can help home baristas avoid wasting coffee. Investing in a good, reliable kitchen scale today helps save money in the long run.
Weigh out your perfect ratio with the EspressoWorks Digital Kitchen Scale
Some gourmet coffee beverages require steaming; others require frothing — and some require a combination of the two. But whether a home barista is steaming or frothing milk, or doing both, a steam wand is an essential tool. Most espresso machines come with a built-in steam wand, which is a small metal pipe used for steaming and/or frothing milk. A home barista who wants to make a quality cappuccino, for example, needs a reliable steam wand. Although the boilers in home espresso machines have a smaller capacity than the ones in public coffee bars, a good steam wand can get the job done at home when it comes to frothing milk.
Some coffee lovers wrongly believe that a cappuccino or caffè latte made at home cannot measure up to what they get at their favorite coffee bars. But with the right equipment and knowledge, there is no reason why one cannot become a first-rate home barista.
Check out the EspressoWorks 7-Piece Espresso Maker which comes with a built-in steam wand
Elevating your home drinks to the level of coffee house quality is often a matter of properly frothing the milk. Milk frothers add that extra level of silky smooth indulgence to your brew and help to complement the coffee by aerating the milk giving it that light and frothy texture.
Professional milk frothers are generally built into the machine itself but those who are looking for an easy compliment to their favorite coffee machine or French Press can purchase a handheld frothing wand or a separate frothing machine for scientifically perfected aeration.
Get a cord-free and seamless froth with the EspressoWorks Battery Operated Milk Frother which comes with a glass frothing jug for ease of use.
Sometimes, adding that extra flair is a way to show appreciation to your craft and make a fun and impressive work of drinkable art. Latte Art is often a skill that is trained through a formal barista setting, utilizing a mix of well-planned milk pouring and a latte art pen to correct or add embellishments to your cream tops. By adding latte art to your arsenal, you can mesmerize your friends and bring your at-home coffee house experience that much closer to a professional cafe level of execution.
Get creative with the EspressoWorks Coffee Latte Art Pen
Tamping compresses the grounds evenly within the portafilter to allow for the full flavor of the beans to be activated. An even tamp of your grounds can make a dramatic difference in the crema and flavor fullness of your brew. By using a properly weighted tamper and preparing the area for clean and efficient tamping, your brews will taste better, smell fuller, and ensure the full strength of your beans.
A general rule that gourmet coffee lovers recommend for anyone who aspires to be a first-rate home barista is to only purchase whole-bean coffee. Although pre-ground coffee is more convenient, experienced baristas emphasize that purchasing whole-bean coffee and grinding it up at home is well worth the time and effort. But exactly what type of whole-bean coffee should a home barista purchase? That is a matter of personal preference, and there are a wide variety of options. Some baristas prefer whole beans that come from Brazil; others prefer whole beans that were grown in Colombia — or perhaps a country in Asia or Sub-Saharan Africa. The options for whole-bean coffee are endless.
There are also different options when it comes to roasts. Green coffee beans, whether they come from Ethiopia, Thailand, or Honduras, don’t necessarily have to be roasted — unroasted coffee beans, in their natural green state, can be used to make coffee. But more often than not, green coffee beans are roasted at high temperatures, turned a shade of brown, and transformed into the familiar beverage that is loved all over the world. Roasts range from light to medium to medium-dark to dark, and which one a home barista should purchase comes down to personal taste.