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James Hoffmann at the World Barista Championship (2006). WBC-pouring split.jpg
James Hoffmann at the World Barista Championship (2006).

A barista ( /bəˈrstə,-ˈrɪstə/ ; Italian:  [ b a ˈ r i s t a ] ; from the Italian for "bartender") is a person, usually a coffeehouse employee, who prepares and serves espresso-based coffee drinks. In Starbucks, over the counter employees are referred to as "baristas", although the preparation process is fully automated.


Etymology and inflection

The word barista comes from Italian, where it means a male or female "bartender" who typically works behind a counter, [1] serving hot drinks (such as espresso), cold alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and snacks. [2] The native plural in English is baristas, while in Italian the plural is baristi for masculine (literally meaning "barmen", "bartenders") or bariste for feminine (literally meaning "barmaids"). [2]

Application of the title

Gwilym Davies, WBC champion 2009. Gwilym Davies.jpg
Gwilym Davies, WBC champion 2009.

While the title is not regulated, most[ citation needed ] coffee shops use the title to describe the preparer of coffee and operator of an espresso machine.

Good espresso-making is essential to a barista's role. Linea doubleespresso.jpg
Good espresso-making is essential to a barista's role.
Latte art is a visible sign of a trained barista and well-frothed milk. Latte at Doppio Ristretto Chiang Mai 02.jpg
Latte art is a visible sign of a trained barista and well-frothed milk.
A barista with his mobile espresso bar in Ystad, Sweden, 2013. Barista - Ystad -2013.jpg
A barista with his mobile espresso bar in Ystad, Sweden, 2013.

Baristas generally operate a commercial espresso machine, and their role is preparing and pulling the shot; the degree to which this is automated or done manually varies significantly, ranging from push-button operation to an involved manual process. Espresso is a notoriously finicky beverage, and good manual espresso making is considered a skilled task. Further, preparation of other beverages, particularly milk-based drinks such as cappuccinos and lattes, but also non-espresso coffee such as drip or press pot, requires additional work and skill for effective frothing, pouring and most often latte art.

The barista usually has been trained to operate the machine and to prepare the coffee based on the guidelines of the roaster or shop owner, while more experienced baristas may have discretion to vary preparation or experiment. To make the coffee well, there is a series of steps needing attention, including grinding the beans, extracting the coffee, frothing the milk and pouring. [3]

Beyond the preparation of espresso and other beverages and general customer service, skilled baristas acquire knowledge of the entire process of coffee to effectively prepare a desired cup of coffee, including maintenance and programming of the machine, grinding methods, roasting, and coffee plant cultivation, similar to how a sommelier is familiar with the entire process of wine making and consumption. A barista can acquire these skills by attending training classes, but they are more commonly learned on the job.


Formal barista competitions originated in Norway, [4] and one such is the World Barista Championships, held annually at varied international locations. [5] Baristas worldwide compete, though they must first compete in a competition held in their own country to qualify to enter in the WBC.

See also

Related Research Articles

Cappuccino Drink made with espresso coffee and steamed milk

A cappuccino is an espresso-based coffee drink that originated in Italy, and is traditionally prepared with steamed milk foam (microfoam).

Espresso Type of strong coffee

Espresso is a coffee-brewing method of Italian origin, in which a small amount of nearly boiling water is forced under 9–10 bars of pressure (expressed) through finely-ground coffee beans. Espresso coffee can be made with a wide variety of coffee beans and roast degrees. Espresso is the most common way of making coffee in southern Europe, especially in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Southern France and Bulgaria.

Coffee in Italy

Caffè is the Italian word for coffee and probably originates from Kaffa, the region in Ethiopia where coffee originated. The Muslims first used and distributed it worldwide from the port of Mocha in Yemen, after which the Europeans named it mokka. Caffè may refer to the Italian way of preparing a coffee, an espresso, or occasionally used as a synonym for the European coffee bar.

Latte Drink made with espresso coffee and milk

Caffe latte is a coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk. The term comes from the Italian caffè e latte[kafˌfɛ e lˈlatte], caffelatte[kaffeˈlatte] or caffellatte[kaffelˈlatte], which means "coffee and milk". In English, it is often shortened to just latte; either or both words sometimes have an accent on the final e.

Espresso machine Device used to brew espresso coffee

An espresso machine brews coffee by forcing pressurized water near boiling point through a "puck" of ground coffee and a filter in order to produce a thick, concentrated coffee called espresso. The first machine for making espresso was built and patented in 1884 by Angelo Moriondo of Turin, Italy. An improved design was patented on April 28, 1903, by Luigi Bezzera. The founder of the La Pavoni company bought the patent and from 1905 produced espresso machines commercially on a small scale in Milan. Multiple machine designs have been created to produce espresso. Several machines share some common elements, such as a grouphead and a portafilter. An espresso machine may also have a steam wand which is used to steam and froth liquids for coffee drinks such as cappuccino and caffe latte.

Caffè macchiato Espresso coffee drink with a small amount of milk, usually foamed

Caffè macchiato, sometimes called espresso macchiato, is an espresso coffee drink with a small amount of milk, usually foamed. In Italian, macchiato means "stained" or "spotted" so the literal translation of caffè macchiato is "stained” or “marked coffee.”

Ristretto short shot of espresso coffee

Ristretto is a "short shot" of a more highly concentrated espresso coffee. It is made with the same amount of ground coffee, but extracted with a finer grind using half as much water. A normal short shot might look like a Ristretto, but in reality, would only be a weaker, more diluted, shot. The opposite of a Ristretto is a lungo ("long"), which is a double shot. The French call a ristretto a café serré.

Caffè mocha A chocolate-flavored variant of a caffè latte

A caffè mocha, also called mocaccino, is a chocolate-flavoured variant of a caffè latte, commonly served in a glass. Other commonly used spellings are mochaccino and also mochachino. The name is derived from the city of Mocha, Yemen, which was one of the centers of early coffee trade.

Latte macchiato

Latte macchiato is a coffee beverage; the name means stained or marked milk. Marked as in an espresso stain on the milk used. It is a play on “Espresso macchiato” which is an espresso with a drop or two of milk or cream.

Flat white Drink made with espresso coffee and milk

A flat white is a coffee drink consisting of espresso with microfoam. It is comparable to a latte, but smaller in volume and with less microfoam, therefore having a higher proportion of coffee to milk, and milk that is more velvety in consistency – allowing the espresso to dominate the flavour, while being supported by the milk.


Microfoam is finely textured milk used for making espresso-based coffee drinks, particularly those with latte art. It is typically made with the steam wand of an espresso machine, which pumps steam into a pitcher of milk.

Café con leche Spanish drink made with coffee and hot milk

Café con leche is a Spanish coffee beverage consisting of strong coffee mixed with scalded milk in approximately equal amounts. The amount of milk can be higher in café con leche en vaso or café con leche de desayuno. Sugar or sweetener is added to taste. It is similar to the Italian caffè latte and the French café au lait.

Coffee preparation Process of turning coffee beans into a beverage

Coffee preparation is the process of turning coffee beans into a beverage. While the particular steps vary with the type of coffee and with the raw materials, the process includes four basic steps: raw coffee beans must be roasted, the roasted coffee beans must then be ground, the ground coffee must then be mixed with hot water for a certain time (brewed), and finally the liquid coffee must be separated from the used grounds.

Milk coffee Category of coffee-based drinks

Milk coffee is a category of coffee-based drinks made with milk. Johan Nieuhof, the Dutch ambassador to China, is credited as the first person to drink coffee with milk when he experimented with it around 1660.

Latte art Type of decoration on coffee

Latte art is a method of preparing coffee created by pouring microfoam into a shot of espresso and resulting in a pattern or design on the surface of the latte. It can also be created or embellished by simply "drawing" in the top layer of foam. Latte art is particularly difficult to create consistently, due to the demanding conditions required of both the espresso shot and milk. This, in turn, is limited by the experience of the barista and quality of the espresso machine. The pour itself, then, becomes the last challenge for the latte artist. The term is not limited to latte coffee but also applies to other beverages containing milk foam, such as cappuccino and hot chocolate.

Caffè crema refers to two different coffee drinks:

Easy Serving Espresso Pod

The Easy Serving Espresso pod, is a small packed coffee pod with a paper filter covering for use in a non-grinding espresso machine. The E.S.E. standard was created by Italian Illy in the 1970s and is maintained by the "Consortium for the Development and the Protection of the E.S.E. Standard." It is open to all coffee roasters and machine manufacturers, making it the self-acclaimed "only open system available to the sector for espresso coffee prepared with paper pods".

Marocchino Italian drink made with coffee and cocoa

Marocchino is a coffee drink created in Alessandria, Italy. It is served in a small glass and consists of a shot of espresso, cocoa powder and milk froth. In some regions of northern Italy, thick hot cocoa is added. In Alba, the home of the Italian chocolate giant Ferrero, Nutella is used. The name Marocchino is derived from its colour, as marocchino was a type of light brown leather used in the 1930s to make hair bands.

Milk frother utensil

A milk frother is a utensil for making milk froth, typically to be added to coffee. It aerates the milk, creating a thick and heavy foam. The tiny bubbles, which are formed during this process, make the milk texture lighter and increase its volume. There are three major types of milk frother: manual, handheld electric, and automatic. Some devices can warm the milk while making froth.


  1. "barista | Origin and meaning of barista by Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 2019-11-06.
  2. 1 2 "What It Means to Be a Barista". The Spruce Eats. Retrieved 2019-11-06.
  3. Anand, Shitka (10 November 2011). "How to make perfect coffee: Sydney's best baristas reveal their secrets". CNN. Archived from the original on 10 June 2015. Retrieved 10 June 2015.
  4. Wendelboe, Tim (May 1, 2005) The Future of the World Barista Championship. Archived 2012-11-20 at the Wayback Machine "" Retrieved on 2006-oct-25
  5. "World Barista Championship".