What is a barista?

Dany Marquis

What is a Barista?

I'm often asked this question and it always brings me back to the bottom of my head. By working in the same field, we come to think that everyone knows the basics of coffee. And I imagine it's the same for the majority of domains. So, in my caffeinated lingo, I regularly use the term Barista thinking everyone knows what it is.

First of all, I invite you to read the Wikipedia description: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barista

I completely agree with this definition and would like to add my two cents. (By the way, there are still restaurants that put salt in their coffee before brewing it… So that it tastes something…)

Let’s start with the whole wheat side.

For me, the Barista is a professional and I like the term “coffee sommelier”. When you go to an SAQ, you expect the staff to know wine and alcohol inside out. I expect the same from my Baristis (plural barista). So, the barista is above all an enthusiast. Dedicated to serving the customer who comes to pick up their $2.50 coffee. This customer must be treated with as much consideration as possible, with a smile. It requires a good dose of humility but it’s an extraordinary job. Because for me it is a job that requires a lot of theoretical knowledge and technical work. In recent years, we have greatly improved our techniques, our training program and the selection of our candidates. I am satisfied overall with the quality of the product offered. But I have the impression that we have reached a stage of pale gray, theoretical, and overly technical competence.

This must be why I remain hungry. Now let's move on to the frosty side.

Where is the magic in my coffees?

The barista is an animal to me. A circus beast. A social freak who decided to leave behind a careerist and materialistic version of life to dedicate his time to making a sweetly addictive hot drink. The Barista is a pusher. A pimp of the cup. Wearing the tattoo and piercing, the barista is an anarchist. A jester where the customer is the king!

I expect a barista to put on a show. On this subject, I fully admit my influence from Seattle's Pike Place fish market. You do not know ?

Watch this little video: http://youtu.be/TbtsfyrEF_c

It must be four or five years now that I jokingly ask, during interviews, if the candidate knows how to juggle cups. I dream about it ! Juggling, throwing plates, sandwiches. New employees aren't sure if I'm serious. But yes, I am! And that’s essential for me! Once you get a taste of being a barista, you're done. You are on the fringes of civil society. You're a barista. Maybe you have a job as a nurse, a French teacher (random example), you have a tattoo on your heart. You're a barista. You walked the stage. You offered yourself as food to the client and you liked it…

Yes, you, the barista, who is reading this text, let go of the animal in you, roar to the sound of the hissing steam. Heat the machine, scrub the machine, worship the cup. Offer yourself, with all your heart, to customers, even for the $1.32 filter coffee. Because you are the machine. The satisfaction machine, the pleasure machine, all these people line up for you, just for you, to taste the fruit of your knowledge. Express yourself in latte art, in service, in your words. Know yourself and accept your wild side, you are a beast, do you hear me, a beast!

And don't forget to wash the toilet, empty the trash, dust the shelves, make iced tea, hot chocolate ganache, sweep.

Or you will taste whip...

Do you want to improve your skills as a barista or do you want to let loose and become one?

I advise you to take a look at our collection of sacred books for baristas or for all coffee lovers in general! The collection for baristas " The Professional Barista's Handbook " is essential, only crazy people can do without it!



  • marcel

    merci pour cette vision du barista Dany.
    Petit détails orthographique Barista c’est bien du singulier comme tu l’as dit mais le pluriel n’est pas Baristis mais Baristi (et oui le pluriel c’est le i donc pas besoin de rajouter un s) :)

  • Marguerite Desrosiers

    C’est du FEU ce message!!! Un Espresso en mots..! J’aime bien. Oui, ce métier demande des connaissances, mais, la façon de transmettre la passion du café est essentielle aussi et selon mes observations ceux que j’ai observés offraient un service très original…Je suis chanceuse d’avoir découvert l’univers du café. ..un peu tard mais je me rattrape. Continuez votre bon travail!???

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