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Etymology and inflection
The word barista comes from Italian, where it means a male or female "bartender" who typically works behind a counter, serving hot drinks (such as espresso), cold alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and snacks. The native plural in English is baristas, while in Italian the plural is baristi for masculine (literally meaning "barmen", "bartenders") or bariste for feminine (literally meaning "barmaids").
Application of the title
While the title is not regulated, most coffee shops use the title to describe the preparer of coffee and operator of an espresso machine.
Baristas generally operate a commercial espresso machine, and their role is preparing and pulling the shot; the degree to which this is automated or done manually varies significantly, ranging from push-button operation to an involved manual process. Espresso is a notoriously finicky beverage, and good manual espresso making is considered a skilled task. Further, preparation of other beverages, particularly milk-based drinks such as cappuccinos and lattes, but also non-espresso coffee such as drip or press pot, requires additional work and skill for effective frothing, pouring and most often latte art.
The barista usually has been trained to operate the machine and to prepare the coffee based on the guidelines of the roaster or shop owner, while more experienced baristas may have discretion to vary preparation or experiment. To make the coffee well, there is a series of steps needing attention, including grinding the beans, extracting the coffee, frothing the milk and pouring.
Beyond the preparation of espresso and other beverages and general customer service, skilled baristas acquire knowledge of the entire process of coffee to effectively prepare a desired cup of coffee, including maintenance and programming of the machine, grinding methods, roasting, and coffee plant cultivation, similar to how a sommelier is familiar with the entire process of wine making and consumption. A barista can acquire these skills by attending training classes, but they are more commonly learned on the job.
Formal barista competitions originated in Norway, and one such is the World Barista Championships, held annually at varied international locations. Baristas worldwide compete, though they must first compete in a competition held in their own country to qualify to enter in the WBC.
These competitions focus on promoting coffee. Each barista is judged on their skill representing their country's drinks.
National Barista Day
Summary of Australia's National Barista Day
|Date: 1st of March|
|Created by: Almond Breeze Barista Blend &
Baristas for Baristas
|Major Prize: $5000|
|Minor Prize: $1000|
National Barista Day is an event celebrated annually on the 1st of March in Australia. Created by the Almond Breeze Barista Blend company and the community Baristas for Baristas, the first National Barista Day was inaugurated in 2019. The day is to recognise the barista community in Australia, which is one of the leading coffee scenes in the world. The event was inspired from the results of a survey which demonstrated that only 79% of baristas feel appreciated. The concept was developed so Australians could show their barista love by celebrating the efforts of baristas on a nationwide basis. This is achieved by allowing the public to nominate their favourite barista for a cash prize. In 2019, the competition period in which these nominations occurred was between the 4th February 2019 and the 28th February 2019. The most successful nominee, 'Australia's Barista of Choice', is given a $5,000 reward and an opportunity to share in the wisdom of a world-renowned barista. The champion is determined by an organised panel of industry leaders. A further 9 barista champions are given $1000, of which they can use to further their skills or develop their business. In addition to this, the findings of a large research survey into Australia's barista culture are released on National Barista Day, in the form of an e-book available on the Baristas for Baristas website. The National Barista Day’s first champion was Celeste Norris, a barista from the Good 2 Go Cafe in Melbourne’s Hosier Lane.
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