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  • New Barista Jitters

    Hello! I just started at a nice little coffee shop with great beans. Im just terrified my milk steaming capabilities are lacking. I often hear coffee aficionados complaining about such and such a baristas terrible microfoam, and Im terrified it will be me! I havent worked at a coffee shop in about 8 years, Im terribly rusty.

    They steam their milk without a thermometer, and although I know the three second test, I understand theres also a sound test?
    I really just want to start learning from the beginning, and Ive looked up a thousand different videos, but none look great! Everyone has a different technique, and what makes perfect steamed milk to someone is awful to someone else.

    Could someone provide me with some good guidelines on how to create good microfoam? Whats perfect for lattes, what about cappuccinos? Ive read a bit about stretching and texturizing, but everything Ive read requires the use of thermometers, which my boss sneers at. Help?

  • #2
    Re: New Barista Jitters

    Welcome Arya and congrats on the new role.

    All I can say is one word: Training!

    If your boss expects you to make coffee but without training, hot foot it out of there and find a good place to work.

    There are some great training opportunities around the country. If you tell us where you are, somebody is sure to be able to assist.

    Good luck!

    Chris

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    • #3
      Re: New Barista Jitters

      Hi Arya - welcome to CoffeeSnobs!

      Have a look at KKs technique in this thread:

      http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1220959662

      A lot of people swear by it.

      Cheers

      Sniff

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      • #4
        Re: New Barista Jitters

        Originally posted by 21121901600 link=1310412082/0#0 date=1310412082
        Ive read a bit about stretching and texturizing, but everything Ive read requires the use of thermometers, which my boss sneers at. Help?

        ... Doesnt sound like your boss is being very helpful.
        Why havent you raised this issue with him/her instead?

        Unless there was some fabrication of experience when you first applied for the position...

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        • #5
          Re: New Barista Jitters

          you also need to remember that there are people who always know better than you.

          you cant please all of the people all of the time.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: New Barista Jitters

            Practise is always a good one

            Are they letting you on the machine yet?
            Also how much experience did you have when you used to make coffee? Is it more a case of re-honing the skills or do you really want to start from the beginning again?

            If at the moment you are just taking the orders and waiting tables, ask if you can make your own coffee and perhaps the staff coffees to get you back into the swing of things.

            I would say that personally I make nice milk consistently, but I dont think that there was any one thing in particular that made my milk start getting a lot better.

            If you know the basics as in how to get a nice whirlpool going, and how much microfoam you need depending on if its a flat white/latte/cap, then the silkiness of the milk just comes with practise.


            The fact that you have come here in search of answers shows to me that you care enough to want to be good, and thats always the best start.

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            • #7
              Re: New Barista Jitters

              I hope she is busy making coffees at her new position and enjoying it.

              All the best Arya. 

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              • #8
                Re: New Barista Jitters

                Edit: I should probably check post dates in the future...Ah well - information for anyone else interested! ;D

                Tim Wendelboe: "Good coffee does not occur out of love or eye measurements based on experience. Good coffee is a result of precision and discipline."

                Your boss sounds like hes got a few tickets on himself, so take what he says with a grain of salt.

                If youre uncomfortable, get the training. If he wont provide training for you, and you want to stay at that establishment - get your own training via an independent provider.

                Learning to judge sound and temperature (by feel) comes only with experience. Sound is variable depending on position of the wand, the movement of the milk and even the amountof milk are you using. Judging temperature by hand is again another issue, as your hands are often hotter/colder varying on the activity your performing and ambient temperature. 
                Until you are 110% confident, get a thermometer and pay attention to even what you may consider insignificant details.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: New Barista Jitters

                  Sorry guys! I had a bunch of family drama as well as my honours thesis to do, so I havent been back to respond. Ive been doing a lot better with my milk recently, although latte art still escapes me!

                  That article on texturizing was great though, thanks SniffCoffee, and thanks for the encouragement petanque!

                  TalkCoffee, Im actually in Canada at the moment, but Ill be in the Heidelberg West suburb of Melbourne in not too long, at which point Ill probably take you up on your offer.

                  Jasonlew, there was no fabrication. I worked at a starbucks many years ago and made the occasional latte as a server at a restaurant (maybe 1 or 2 a week) on a dinky little machine, and thats what I told her. She wanted me to learn on the job, but had pretty high expectations.

                  Thanks for the encouragement Gary S! I started from basically zero (which is apparently where most of the baristas in this city stay, I havent seen microfoam outside my shop) but I think Im getting along nicely. Im still a little shaky on how to steam milk differently for different drinks, though. Right now Im just making stiffer foam, and more of it for cappucinos. Im using less milk in the jug to make room for more foam, and surfing the holes longer to make stiffer foam, is that about right? Im afraid I dont know what a flat white is, its not on our menu, and Ive never been asked for one. My whirlpools are pretty nice now, though!

                  Thanks very much Gary@gala!

                  MattyDV, my boss is actually an alright lady, and she makes a great cup of coffee. She says she doesnt like thermometers because theyre generally inaccurate and to slow to catch up with tthe actual temperature of the milk. Id tend to agree based on all the burnt milk Ive been served at Starbucks where they religiously use em, but to each theyre own.

                  Thanks everyone for the help!!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: New Barista Jitters

                    Great to hear back from you and also to hear that things are coming along nicely.

                    Stiff foam to me sounds like it might be foam which is separating from the milk, which is generally not what we strive for. Although we could just be describing the same thing differently..

                    Generally the aim is to texture right amount depending on the type of coffee youre making, ie a bit more of youre making a cappuccino and a bit less if youre making a latte.


                    Keep up the good work. Dont worry so much about trying to produce latte art, focus on making the best smooth creamy textured milk you can (a good analogy which is often used is wet paint in appearance).

                    Once you get this, you will start to notice how the milk and the shot of coffee mix when you pour from different heights and at different speeds, then just watch a few thousand videos and youll be on your way hehe

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                    • #11
                      Re: New Barista Jitters

                      Originally posted by 4D7E756D0C0 link=1310412082/8#8 date=1316521588
                      Im still a little shaky on how to steam milk differently for different drinks, though. Right now Im just making stiffer foam, and more of it for cappucinos. Im using less milk in the jug to make room for more foam, and surfing the holes longer to make stiffer foam, is that about right? Im afraid I dont know what a flat white is, its not on our menu, and Ive never been asked for one. My whirlpools are pretty nice now, though!

                      Thanks very much Gary@gala!

                      MattyDV, my boss is actually an alright lady, and she makes a great cup of coffee. She says she doesnt like thermometers because theyre generally inaccurate and to slow to catch up with tthe actual temperature of the milk. Id tend to agree based on all the burnt milk Ive been served at Starbucks where they religiously use em, but to each theyre own.
                      Good to hear that youre enjoying it, and likewise re: your boss.

                      If I can offer a tip for stretching the milk for cappuccinos or any other drink requiring so, is stretch as early as possible! It was a tip I was taught by the master roaster of Orb, and although it has made a few people cringe when they first hear me stretching, Ive received countless positive comments for it.
                      And to clarify, I mean really stretch the hell out of it! Blow the most amount of air you possibly can into it. But the moment the milk hits ~15degrees (20 if need be, depending on how much youve stretched.) get it pooling and tumbling as quickly and efficiently as possible! It will work itself back down into silky smooth microfoam.

                      (Another friendly fact, when texturing milk you want to stop surfing the holes when the milk reaches approx 30 degrees - so watch out you dont get caught surfing the holes for too long!)

                      With that being said, Id be surprised if there arent a few on here that will criticise this method - its certainly not WBC methodology. This is just what I have been taught, and found over the last 2 years to work the best on the particular wand I use.

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