Barista Schools, Techniques, and Methods

Espresso doesn’t mean fast, it means expression.

There are so many options when you are ordering drinks from an artisanal coffee shop, and each has its own methods and teachings, handed down orally from years of knowledge. I know three and I’d love to discuss them here before I start my new assignment at Ebar at Nordstrom’s. I plan to offer all three I currently know, there are so many others, and each is wonderful and different. I have my own version of each of them, so please know when you’re ordering at any coffee shop I work at, that while my personal style is unique I can make anything you really dream of, from the deepest mochas to the lightest cappuccinos and macchiatos. I’m sure I will learn a new style at Ebar.

I don’t know the house style yet at Ebar, but my barista training taught me three methods, one I could call the Equator, with subtle, elegant microfoam, one I could call Texas96, an aerated, vintage, bubbly froth explosion, and one I could call Mill Valley School, as a working title.

Texas 96 is a frothy, aerated foam crested drink that leaves an espresso milk base completely separated from the milk itself, and it’s served extremely hot, pushing to the upper levels to the maximum 140-degree mark, but still drinkable. It’s bold like Texas itself. I was taught in a bookstore in Texas in 1996, as my first job, and so I’m calling it Texas96. It’s vintage, and almost a quarter-century old.

Equator is a modern style, which I learned from taking a barista certification course, which is really elegant, with a series of modern techniques creating a blend across and within the surface of the entire espresso drink itself, it’s subtle, elegant, and delicious, It’s so good that the last one I made I literally scooped out the remaining foam from the cup, and it was not quite a desert, but so amazing. I love making my version of it and I can’t wait to see what folks think about it.

And the Peets style, which I’m going to call Mill Valley School. comes from what I learned at Peets, which is a rather hot bold style that is all its own, which is a mildly frothy, un aerated mix that is inseparable in my mind from the experience of the cafe itself. I was taught by one of the lead baristas about this method one day in Mill Valley School, by an almost operatic singer who I worked the closing shift with one evening in the town.

Each is a style I can weave in between, and I have my own style in all three styles I could call Cloud School, which is the ability to have any one of these shapes and textures, just like clouds in the sky. In that way each belongs to me, no one, and everyone at the same time, just as clouds combine in our own imaginations into something that’s truly our own, in perfect harmony with all that can be, and all there is, in our bodies, speech, and mind.

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