7 Things Baristas Should Know in 2024: Perfect for Beginners

By Mark •  Updated: 10/11/22 •  11 min read

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If you are just starting as a barista, the things you need to learn and memorize can be overwhelming. What are the essential things a barista needs to know? How can you excel as a barista even if you are just starting?

Here are 7 things every barista should know:

  1. Understand the importance of connecting with your surroundings.
  2. Learn the different types of coffee beans.
  3. Understand the right grinding point, temperature, and pressure.
  4. Know your equipment and how to clean it.
  5. Know the art of milk steaming and frothing.
  6. Know there is always more to learn.
  7. Learn How to Work with Passion, Quality, and Freshly Brewed Coffee.

While there may be an overwhelming list of things to learn while becoming a barista, it is essential to learn just a few basics that will allow you to excel at your job.

Things Baristas Should Know
Here Are 7 Things Baristas Should Know

Remember, it isn’t just about the coffee or technique; it’s also about the customers’ experience and environment.

Keep reading to learn the seven most important things a barista should know to promote happy, frequently returning customers. 

Understand The Importance of Connecting with Your Surroundings

Customer service is crucial for baristas as they constantly interact with clients. Yet, the best customer service relies on engaging with the environment and providing a positive experience. This includes your appearance, customer relations, and a welcoming atmosphere. 

A barista is a face that clients will see, making you the face for their first impression.

Therefore, the barista’s appearance, attitude, and customer service skills will so they have the most influence on customers’ perception of the cafe and product. 

Understand The Importance of Connecting with Your Surroundings
Understand The Importance of Connecting with Your Surroundings

A good barista can make great impressions effortless by:

A superb impression is an excellent way to encourage clients to return, yet, baristas make impressions in various ways other than interacting with customers. Baristas must ensure that the environment is clean, tidy, and hygienic. 

Customers are more than likely to return if baristas do the following:

  • Keep the cafe free of garbage or trash
  • Maintaining an organized workspace
  • Working quickly and efficiently
  • Constantly cleaning and upkeeping the cafe lobby
  • Being proactive and prepared with supplies.

If customers feel they are in a welcoming, clean environment, they will enjoy their time and return. Although appearance and environment play a crucial role in first impressions, customer service skills are fundamental to a great barista. 

Excellent customer service entails the following:

  • Being polite
  • Being patient
  • Being honest and giving recommendations
  • Remaining calm
  • Moving quickly
  • Creating small talk and rapport with customers
  • Avoiding personal topics that you are strongly opinionated on.

If you follow all of these steps regarding appearance, environment, and customer service skills, you will more than likely be recognized as a great employee by the customers or your boss!

Learn The Different Types of Coffee Beans

While it may seem pretty straightforward, baristas must know the coffee beans. The types of beans have different tastes, grinding points, temperatures, and pressures to be served at.

Learn The Different Types of Coffee Beans
Learn The Different Types of Coffee Beans

Identifying and talking about each coffee bean, its taste, and its caffeine level is a no-brainer, as many customers will have questions about this topic.

There are four different types of coffee beans around the world:

  1. Arabica,
  2. Robusta,
  3. Excelsa, and
  4. Liberica.

Each has a distinguishable acidity, a distinct taste, and a distinct amount of caffeine.

Caffeine Level, Taste (per 100mg), and Origins of Coffee Beans

Coffee BeanCaffeineTasteOrigin
Arabica0.8g-1.5gSweet and softBrazil, East Africa, Central Africa, India, Indonesia, Ethiopia
Robusta1.7g-3.5gStrong and harshVietnam, India, Africa, Indonesia
Excelsa0.86 to 1.13gStrong and dark tart and fruityCentral Africa, Philippines, Vietnam
Liberica1.23gEarthly, woodsy, slightly bitterCentral Africa, Indonesia, Philippines


The Arabica coffee bean is the sweetest and most subtle coffee. It has the lowest caffeine content and originates from South America, Ethiopia, and Central Africa. 

Arabica beans have a large oval shape with a curved crease. They are also greasy, which allows for a sweeter flavor. 


Robusta coffee beans are a bit different but similar to Arabica coffee beans. Robusta beans have the highest caffeine content and are more potent and harsher than coffee beans. Robusta coffee originated from Vietnam, India, Indonesia, and Africa.

Robusta coffee beans are smaller and more round than Arabica beans. They also have a straight crease in the middle. 


The excelsa bean has a lower caffeine content than the three other beans. It is intense, dark, and has a tart or fruity flavor. 

Excelsa originates from Central Africa, the Philippines, and Vietnam. 

Excelsa beans have recently been classified as a part of the Liberica bean family. However, these coffee beans have an extended almond shape than the classic Liberica bean. 


Liberica is a less common type of coffee bean. It has up to 1.23 grams of caffeine per 100 milligrams. It is a more earthy, slightly bitter coffee from Central Africa, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Liberica beans are less common but can be identified by their almond shape. They are also paler in color than other beans. 

Understand The Right Grinding Point, Temperature, and Pressure

Each type of coffee a barista will make has specific rules and guidelines. The three most important things a barista needs to know are the grinding point of the beans, the temperature, and the pressure as you brew the coffee. 

Understand The Right Grinding Point, Temperature, and Pressure
Understand The Right Grinding Point, Temperature, and Pressure

Controlled Extraction

The barista’s main objective is to achieve each cup’s best creation! A great barista knows how to perform a controlled extraction to prepare the coffee with the best flavor.

To get the best taste, it is vital to consider extraction, as the taste depends on the number of components extracted from the beans.

Experiment with different balances of water, coffee, temperature, and grind size to find the perfect combination and extraction procedure. 

Grinding The Beans

The reason for grinding coffee beans is to increase and promote a higher contact area with the water.

Depending on how fine or coarse each coffee bean is ground, it will affect the time it takes for the hot water to flow through the portafilter basket. It is best to have very finely ground beans to maximize extraction efficiency. 


The water temperature is a fundamental focus for authentic coffee extraction because it affects the solubility of the substances extracted.

Higher temperatures will allow better soluble extraction of oils, flavors, and aromas, making for a better-tasting cup of coffee. 


The purpose of pressing is to create resistance and make water push through. This is how the flavor is extracted.

If the water pressure is too low because of loose and uneven grounds, you will not remove the aroma, oils, and flavors very well from the grounds.

The force of the water pulls the oils from the beans and creates the bold flavor and rich texture that you should deliver with every cup of coffee. 

Know Your Equipment and How to Clean It

The best baristas know that each machine has its purpose, and keeping them clean is the best way to be an effective and efficient worker! Keeping equipment clean is also vital in making a first impression. 

Learn about the various equipment and how to clean each one with the following table.

 Coffee Equipment, Purpose, and Cleaning Guidelines

EquipmentPurposeCleaning Routine
Automatic Drip Coffee Makers and BrewersBrew up to eight or twelve cups of coffee at once with a button.Clean every night and Wash with cleaning tablets. Remove auxiliary pieces and Clean.
Coffee UrnsKeep drinks hot for an extended time.Clean every night, clean, and rinse with cleaning tablets. Remove filters and wash urns.
Espresso MachineProduces a thick, concentrated coffee called espresso.Clean coffee cleaning tablets every night to clean the portafilter, grates, steam wand, etc.
Industrial Coffee GrindersProduces ground coffee of various grind levels for different types of coffee.Clean every night using coffee cleaning tablets.
Industrial BlendersCreate frozen drinks.After every use, clean your blender with a rag and cleaning solution.
Coffee TamperPacks coffee grounds evenly for a quality shot of expresso.Every night clean with coffee tablets and soap, and water.
Milk ThermometerMeasures the temperature of the milk.After every use, wash with soap and water.
ShakersCombine drinks and balance ingredients.After every use, wash with soap and water.
Hot Water DispensersProduces hot water instantaneously for tea or coffee.Every night wash with soap and water.
French PressCaptures concentrated flavors in tea or coffee.After every use, wash with soap and water or coffee cleanser tablets.  

Maintaining a clean workplace and knowing each machine will increase efficiency and effectiveness and make great impressions on your customers. 

Know The Art of Milk Steaming and Frothing

To be the best barista, you must master the art of milk frothing and steaming! This allows you to create latte art in every drink and make customers smile. It isn’t an easy task, but with the proper instructions, you can become an expert quickly! 

The first step is to have the right tools.

You need a coffee machine with a steam wand, a milk jug, a thermometer, and cold, fresh milk. 

Pour your milk into a milk jug and fill it up to about ¾ to ½. Then purge the steam wand arm a few times to prepare it for frothing. Then place the steam arm’s tip just below the milk’s surface.

Know The Art of Milk Steaming and Frothing
Know The Art of Milk Steaming and Frothing

Then turn it on to full power and ensure it is at the desired temperature for the final drink. 

Wait for the milk to begin frothing and lower the jug to keep the steam wand’s tip submerged in the liquid, not the coffee. When it is done frothing, pour from the spout slowly, starting at about two inches, and get closer as you pour the rest.

This tip will improve the taste and texture of your coffee drink!

Another great thing to know about milk steaming and frothing is how to do designs in coffee with milk! Hundreds of designs include hearts, rosettas and leaf patterns, flowers, and more.

Each has a different pouring technique, but it is easy to master with practice.

How To Make Simple Latte Art with Steamed Milk

LeafPour the milk as you move the jug from side to side, then pour a straight line through the middle.
HeartPour the steamed milk into one circle of coffee. Then move the jug slightly forward until the cup is almost full, then pour a straight line forward.
FlowerPour the milk, and when it is halfway full, barely move the pitcher back and forth while moving backward.

There are various milk art designs, but to become an expert, practice makes perfect! Make sure you steam or froth your milk correctly, and practice different techniques to perfect your coffee art. 

Know There Is Always More to Learn

Although you may know your beans and equipment, there is always more to learn. It doesn’t matter if you master specialty drinks or memorize the facts about each coffee. A great barista takes every moment and finds a way to learn from it. 

Know There Is More to Learn
Know There Is More to Learn

To be a great barista, you should know to find something to learn from every moment throughout the day.

Whether it be how to please customers, new drinks, or how to brew coffees differently, there is no end to the learning process! 

Learn How to Work with Passion, Quality, and Freshly Brewed Coffee!

The best tip for any barista is to work with passion and quality and serve freshly brewed coffee. Every day is a day that you get to meet new people and create something truly unique. Learn to love the process and produce quality coffee. 

Learn How to Work with Passion, Quality, and Freshly Brewed Coffee!
Learn How to Work with Passion, Quality, and Freshly Brewed Coffee!

Learn to build rapport with customers and learn to experiment with different materials. There is always something to learn as a barista, and with learning comes passion and quality. 


Being a barista isn’t easy as they are the face of the brand, giving the first impression to all customers.

However, with excellent customer service and knowledge of coffee beans and pouring techniques, it’s easy to learn more and have a passion for creating freshly brewed coffee. Remember, practice makes perfect, and all customers want is a quality cup of coffee.


G'day from Australia! I'm Mark, the Chief Editor of Portafilter. I'm super passionate about everything coffee-related and love to spend endless hours mastering pulling the perfect shot on my Breville Barista Express. Follow on: Linkedin and Facebook.

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