A barista (from the Italian for “bartender”) is a person, usually a coffeehouse employee, who prepares and serves espresso-based coffee drinks. In the United States, the term barista is also often applied to coffee shop employees who prepare both espresso and regular coffee drinks. Although the term barista technically refers to someone who has been professionally trained in preparing espresso, it may also be used to describe anyone with a high level of skill in making espresso shots and espresso drinks, such as lattes and cappuccinos.
Generally, baristas working in coffeehouses, coffee shops, or coffee bars operate commercial espresso machines (rather than home espresso machines). While their job may sound simple, commercial espresso machines range in difficulty. Some are manual and require immense skill, training, and ability to adapt to the nuance of each batch of coffee, the day’s weather conditions, the drinker’s preferences, and other factors. Other machines are “super-automatic,” requiring no more than the loading of whole beans and the push of a button. Since baristas work the more highly-detailed machines, they must learn the complicated steps of preparing espresso shots.
Beyond making espresso, baristas also generally foam, froth, and steam milk to make a wide range of espresso-based drinks and prepare coffee drinks, such as French press coffee, pour over coffee, and drip coffee.
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