James Hoffmann at the World Barista Championship (2006)

A barista (/bəˈrstə, -ˈrɪs-/ bə-REE-stə, bə-RIST, Italian: [baˈrista]; "bartender") is a person, usually a coffeehouse employee, who prepares and serves espresso-based coffee drinks and other beverages.

Etymology and inflection

The word "barista" comes from Italian, where it means a male or female "bartender" who typically works behind a counter,[1] serving hot drinks (such as espresso), cold alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and snacks.[2] The native plural in Italian is baristi for masculine (literally "barmen", "bartenders") or bariste for feminine (literally "barmaids"), while in English and Spanish is baristas.

Application of the title

Gwilym Davies, WBC champion 2009

While the title is not regulated, most[citation needed] coffee shops use the title to describe the preparer of coffee and operator of an espresso machine.

Good espresso-making is essential to a barista's role.
Latte art is a visible sign of a trained barista and well-frothed milk.
A barista with his mobile espresso bar in Ystad, Sweden, 2013

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. At Starbucks, despite the shots being pulled automatically, the barista must steam the milk for lattes, calibrate the machine to the correct timing for the shots and handcraft the beverage (adding the right proportion of syrups or powder to each beverage).

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.[3]

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 winemaking 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,[4] and one such is the World Barista Championships, held annually at varied international locations.[5] Baristas worldwide compete, though they must first compete in a competition held in their own country to qualify to enter in the WBC, such as the United States Barista Championship.[citation needed] The knowledge sharing at WBC is credited with spreading the beverage espresso and tonic to North America.[6]

See also


  1. ^ "barista | Origin and meaning of barista by Online Etymology Dictionary". www.etymonline.com. Retrieved 2019-11-06.
  2. ^ "What It Means to Be a Barista". The Spruce Eats. Retrieved 2019-11-06.
  3. ^ Anand, Shitka (10 November 2011). "How to make perfect coffee: Sydney's best baristas reveal their secrets". CNN. Archived from the original on 10 June 2015. Retrieved 10 June 2015.
  4. ^ Wendelboe, Tim (May 1, 2005) The Future of the World Barista Championship. Archived 2012-11-20 at the Wayback Machine "CoffeeGeek.com" Retrieved on 2006-oct-25
  5. ^ "World Barista Championship".
  6. ^ "Deep Dive: What Is an Espresso Tonic? | Trade Coffee". www.drinktrade.com. Retrieved 2023-11-19.