Basically brewing coffee at home, you have all the time in the world, and no responsibility in front of other people.
Everyone who ever worked behind the espresso machine and received an order like “4 cappuccinos, 1 soy latte, 2 espressos and a v60” knows what I am talking about.
Your skills should be already mastered, and you are busy managing the time. To put it in other words, it is already supposed that your espresso will be on point, and the milk for your cappuccino will be perfect – you are working on delivering this order all at once, so your guests will receive the coffees at the same time, and espresso will not get cold while they are waiting for v60.
In other words, barista in the cafe is busy not only adjusting the grinder to get the best espresso possible – he is busy doing it shot after shot.
To brew at home, or to do a barista training, when you are not put in the “cafe environment”, which emulates the real cafe life, is a different story. You are more focused on your skills, you have all the time, you are calm, relaxed. Which can be good, or not so good. I am one of those who thinks that some pressure in training could always play in your favor.
It is mostly as cooking at home and cooking in the restaurant. You can make a wonderful dinner, but the question is – can you repeat it again, and again, exactly the same, and in 4-times less time? Day after day? (and be calm about those ones who didn’t like it 🙂 )
The same with the espresso. Baristas who work at the same machine, with the same grinders, the same equipment, day after day, under pressure, and stay conscious about their practice, let’s take the ideal situation, 2 hours out of 8 hours shift – they are jumping to another level.
2 hours of pure concentration on your espresso per day. 10 hours per week. Nothing is as powerful as practice. They are at another level, they are facing and seeing other things, that home brewer has no opportunity to witness.
- They understand more about the grinder, cause they constantly switch from flat whites to double espressos, or two single espressos – and they have not so much time to react, cause people are waiting for that coffee.
- They see how grinders behave when they heat up.
- How extraction changes when your machine cools down.
- They see how coffee behaves when it gets old. At 2 weeks. At 3 weeks.
Lots of data are passing in front of them – just take it and use.
Take the portafilter out – flush – wipe – weight – adjust the grind – grind – weight again – tamp – clean – flush – insert – put the scales – tare – start/start the timer – steam the milk meanwhile…. Hundreds times a day, that sequence.
Home brewing is more about meditation. About clarifying some doubts, conducting experiments, checking out some theories. Learning some skills.
But it is not quite the same as working brewing coffee.
And those barista courses that exist, certifications – are more about learning theory, in a calm environment, learning skills – but they are not preparing you for working in that, they will not give you that knowledge.
I am writing this article to make a point that although professional baristas and home brewers work with the same product and sometimes most lucky ones even with the same equipment – they are not working in the same environment, with the same limitations, and therefore, are having a different experince and have something to learn from each other.
Those who work in the cafes can learn from home brewers all those techniques of slow coffee brewing that they had time to experiment, things regarding some new approaches, in other words, the results of those home experiments. Because this is the strong side of dedicated and meticulous home brewers – experiments. The side that professional baristas sometime have no time to develop on full.