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Beans & Blends: Know Your Barista Basics

Barista Basics - Beans and Blends - New Zealand

From Brilliant Bean Selection to Perfect Coffee

Coffee shops are sprouting up around Auckland like weeds, if weeds were heavenly places where you can get expect a cup of coffee that’s been cared for like a fine wine. Now is the best time to learn how to be a barista, so it’s important to at least know your basics if you’re seeking a career in cafes. Baristas these days need more than a certificate in barista skills. You need to live and breathe coffee, understand its roots and the art of perfecting the frothed milk.


From beans to blends, here are your barista basics.



Understanding the Origins of Coffee Beans

If you want to call yourself a barista, you should probably know the origins of coffee. The beans start out as the seed of a cherry-like fruit that grows on a coffee tree, usually in higher altitude, equatorial climates. The fruit starts as a blossom, which lasts a few days, and then the flower dies, leaving behind a small green coffee cherry. The cherries turn yellow, then red, then almost black. Over the span of 6 to 9 months, the cherries ripen and then are picked.


The fruit is removed from the seed in either a dry method or wet method. During the dry method, the cherries are dried in the sun, then a mechanical husker separates the fruit from the bean. The wet method involves soaking the beans.


Tell Me More About the Beans

There are two types of coffee beans, generally. Arabica and Robusta. Arabica are more aromatic with a lovely flavour, which is why they produce 75% of the world’s coffee trade. They grow at higher altitudes (originated in the highlands of Ethiopia), but they have half the caffeine of the Robusta bean.

Robusta are easier to grow and are grown at lower elevation (origins in sub-Saharan Africa). They produce more beans, and give you a woodier flavour. They are often added to Italian blends for the additional crema and complexity.

Usually, a good mix of the two beans gives you a great blend that balances out the other for ultimate flavour and aroma.


Roasted and Blended to Perfection

There are different methods of roasting that produce different types of coffee and flavours:

  • Drum Roasting: This entails heating a drum by gas or wood. This drum rotates the coffee beans as they roast.
  • Hot Air Roasting: This involves roasting the beans as they tumble on a current of hot air.
  • Light Roasts: Gives you a sharp, acidic taste. Not recommended for espresso.
  • Darker Roasts: These have been roasted for a bit longer, producing a fuller flavour.
  • Extreme Dark Roasts: These roasts have a smoky flavour that suits brewed coffee.


Storing Beans

It is important as a barista to know that beans that have been introduced to air will begin to deteriorate. If stored properly, the beans can stay fresh for 7 to 10 days. Always store beans in an airtight container in a cool dry place out of the light. Don’t store in the fridge because beans absorb flavours.

Start your path towards becoming a professional barista. Apply for hospitality certifications and barista training courses in Auckland today. Call the Crown Institute on 0800 357 316 to learn more or enquire online.